Can I just have a quick word…

If there is a phrase that is guaranteed to instill a quick blast of fear into a teacher it is a senior colleague uttering the phrase ‘Can I just have a quick word…’. You automatically think back to everything you’ve done in the last week or so and wonder what it is you’ve done wrong. What can  he/ she possibly want? arghhh! panic!

Senior staff members have that slightly ambiguous tone when they utter this phrase and it always sounds bad. I can compare this to my dad when he leaves a voicemail message. It usually goes something like ‘Dad here, call as soon as you get this message’ – it always sounds like someone has died. In reality it is never actually that bad – what my dad wants to talk to me about or when someone wants to talk to me in school.

The main reason is usually feedback on something I’ve done either rightly or wrongly. Feedback is a natural part of the teaching profession and some of us, myself included, need to become better at accepting feedback not as a criticism but as a helpful tool to help us improve. The perfect teacher does not exist and never will. There are really good teachers and we all have really good lessons but the point that you think you are perfect is the point you should quit because there is always room for improvement.

I have to say my latest experience of ‘can I just have a quick word..’ was nice and positive. So the next time someone asks for a quick word don’t automatically assume the worst and if it is something that you need to improve on, take it on board and move on positively.

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