Since starting my job at TheSchoolBus, I have had the privilege of encountering lots of very inspiring teachers who are out there, on the front line, preparing the next generation for life. Whilst talking to these amazing educators, I have been reminded of the woman who, twenty two years ago, inspired me to go into teaching – the amazing Mrs Burton.
Mrs Burton was timeless and ageless, funny and loving. I can remember exactly what she looked like, what she smelled like and more importantly, how she loved us. Her classroom at Crompton Fold County Primary School, now Leverhulme Community Primary School, was my favourite place to be. Out in the playground, I didn’t have such a good time. I was a swot, a book worm – I tried too hard and I was a teachers’ pet. I didn’t have a great number of friends.
But Mrs Burton was my friend. She challenged me to work harder, she made me smile, she singled me out when I did a good job. She was never too strict. She made me love Roald Dahl books. She was my constant champion throughout year 2 and up until she passed away 3 years later.
I wasn’t very good at maths (I’m still not very good at maths), but it didn’t matter in Mrs Burton’s class, she could always find your strength. She didn’t care if you didn’t get top marks, and she wasn’t bothered about statistics, as long as you tried your best. This was right at the start of the national curriculum and I can remember her cupboard full of brand new folders laying out what she should teach.
She did teach from the national curriculum, and got us all to the prescribed level, but she also went “off book”, she was from the old school and had already been teaching for twenty years before I met her.
She would take us out on the grass for a story, and give us these amazing projects, like making hand puppets out of papier mache and paint. I called mine Dolly Daydreamer, and Mrs Burton said that matched me perfectly. She encouraged me to write stories about Dolly Daydreamer, which I did, for several years after I left her classroom.
I kept the project for fifteen years until it unfortunately fell apart during a house move.
By the end of the year, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher, just like her. Sadly, Mrs Burton died when I was in year 5 after a long fight with breast cancer. My resolve to teach was strengthened, and after secondary school, I went off to university, got my undergraduate degree, and then, after a couple of years in the public sector, went off to get my PGCE. Being in front of a classroom was everything I’d hoped it would be.
Then I was offered the opportunity to edit and write for TheSchoolBus and I thought of Mrs Burton again. After all those years of daydreaming, I now get to mix my love of teaching, with my love of writing which can all be traced back to those days in class 2B.
How do you inspire your pupils and who inspired you to teach?
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