Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Try Not to Be Smug If You See a Teacher under Siege

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Try Not to Be Smug If You See a Teacher under Siege

Article excerpt

Is there a more truculent, pious, virtue-signalling phrase in education than "Well, they behave for me"? In a profession where competence is more valued the more effortless it appears, and where inspirational aphorisms pass as CPD, it's a high bar to beat, but over it skips. Teachers, on the whole, are benevolent souls; we weren't drawn to a life of inky hands and admin because of the glamour and the prosecco. Most of us lean towards altruism; most of us would rather see staff and students prosper than take a pratfall. Which is why the ubiquity of this phrase is initially hard to understand.

Picture this: you're in the staff room (remember them? The Ancients used to have a communal waterhole filled with dirty mugs and unmarked books dissolving into compost). You've Fosbury flopped on to the chaise longue after a biweekly hazing from 9F. At this point you are leaking rather than venting emotions. Your language may, or may not, be salty. Names are mentioned and mums may be blamed. Your woes are recounted in technicolour, in UPPER CASE, and you are the blameless victim of circumstance and juvenile gods. You are the hero of your own self-penned melodrama.

"Well, they behave for me," says a helpful peer. At first, it appears that they're innocently adding context to your story, innocently. In fact they're trolling you. What are they really saying?

1. They behave for me.

2. They don't behave for you.

3. The reason they behave for me is because I am a good teacher.

4. And you are not.

5. More tea? …

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