This book is a wonderful read - the perfect ‘new teacher’ gift. Alan’s personal reflections are not only funny but also comforting. He finds the funny side of the mishaps we all experience... from training year and beyond! It’s easy to navigate and there’s a great coverage of topics too, yet there is no pressure to read the entire book - you can dip in and out of it regularly with ease. Chapters are a good length and when you got stuck in, you find yourself at the end of the chapter and wanting to read more.
Katarina Pillai, Primary ECT, LETTA Trust school, East London
The introduction to this book is so powerful it reminds me why I chose this profession. I love that this book isn’t at all patronising and has a sense of humanity and relatability to the topic of ethics. The message is that it’s ok to make mistakes, we are human, and from mistakes comes great learning and character building - something we are not reassured of enough as new teachers. It is inspiring to read and it makes you want to be a better teacher.
Natasha Ryan, Secondary PGCE, Middlesex University
There is so much in this book I wish I had been able to read before starting my training. This is an invaluable guide for trainees and teachers alike. Maisey Hodges, Secondary PGCE, Northampton TTP
The style in which the book is written is fantastic. The stories from Alan’s own experience really grabs the reader and he kept my attention throughout.
Michaela McCaugherty, Secondary PGCE, University of Sunderland
I loved this book – and it is very relatable to the experiences of Scottish teachers. The book is a great and engaging read. I have taken away a lot from it that I can apply to my practice and how I look at the teaching profession! Thank you!
Megan Turnbull, Primary Probationary Teacher, East Renfrewshire
This book is very thought provoking. I enjoyed the way Alan asks questions and encourages the reader to think for themselves. This would have been a great book to have had right at the beginning of my journey into teaching. It’s engaging, thought provoking and offers a genuine experience of teaching. Absolutely brilliant.
Patricia Duncan, Secondary PGCE University of Worcester
I thoroughly enjoyed it - I’m even using some of it in my job applications - but the best part for me is how Alan manages to connect all the guidelines, procedures and protocols about being a teacher with real-life stories that were both uplifting - some even brought a little tear to my eye! It reminded me of the writing of James Herriot - very honest and showing teaching for what it is - discussing topics not found on my PGCE course such as how to manage criticism.
Michael Walker, PGCE University of Sunderland
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and was really inspired by the concept of a good teacher being recognised by the values they model. The historical perspective was very interesting too. It was reassuring that the challenges I will face as a teacher will build my character - this sends out a message of “keep going” even if you feel you are not doing a good job at that time. I think the book inspires student teachers and probationers to uphold codes of practice and standards, not just as a professional prerequisite but also as a moral responsibility. I think experienced and perhaps “jaded” teachers would also benefit from reading this book as well.
Eilidh Macpherson, Secondary PGDE, University of Strathclyde
I found this book very interesting and thought provoking. In an environment where teacher dropout rate is high, it will support teachers during their early years. I certainly would have appreciated having it during my PGCE and NQT years. The format is perfect to guide discussions with mentors and enable the teacher to reflect on a variety of issues they will be confronted with. That said, I also think that it would be a valuable read for more experienced teachers.
Maddy Fowler, RQT, London
I will be honest, when I first started reading I thought: ‘What have I done? I can’t possibly read a full academic book’. Well, let me tell you I was wrong! It is written very thoughtfully without lots of references and jargon and I really enjoyed how Alan included extracts from his teaching days and time as a head teacher. It really is thought provoking but also readable, so you can put it down and pick back up again without losing your thread. I would highly recommend this book for people who are only just starting their teaching journey or half way through it like me. This is a brilliant book and I think Alan’s words, thoughts and pearls of wisdom will stay with me, supporting me throughout my career.
Hannah Mitchell, Y2, Primary BA QTS, Edgehill University
I very much enjoyed the interactivity throughout this book where the reader is encouraged to reflect and consider, then partnered with the personal experiences of Alan himself - it makes his book easy to relate to and almost personal. Alan highlights the potential pressures of teaching but not to the point that it would put off any aspiring trainees – more than that - it will give them a sense of purpose and understanding of the challenges that lie ahead. Ultimately, we are role models and that’s something - emphasised by the book - that I am proud to be a part of. I will certainly be keeping a copy for use in my career.
Daniel Strachan, Secondary RQT, South Farnham School, Hampshire
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book! It gripped me from the onset and at times I had to drag myself away from reading it. I loved the personal stories that make your heart drop thinking about… ‘What if I were put in that situation?’ I found the ‘Discuss and reflect’ sections very helpful too – they made me think about my own teaching and I found myself using the questions as talking points within my department at school. The discussions we had have helped me see teaching from the perspective of my more experienced colleagues.
Bryher Freight, NQT Cornwall
I found this book extremely interesting. I found it very easy to connect with the writer and his personal anecdotes which motivated, inspired and moved me as I read them. They are really great and bring the book alive. Alan covers broad themes and ethical conundrums related to character building, bringing it back to professional development and reminding us why we should take certain actions for the betterment of the pupils and communities we serve. The story concerning one of his student’s attitude towards Anne Frank's Diary resonated with me as I teach within an inner-city school in greater Glasgow, I'm all too often faced with sectarian views which can at times be difficult to confront. Alan reminded me that it is ethically and morally right to tackle controversial issues in a way that does not lead to further provocation. I think this is a fantastic book that could be described as a ‘go-to guide’ for anyone joining the teaching profession.
Sarah-Jane Hamilton, Y4 MEduc, University of Glasgow
This book helps develop wider perspectives on teaching. At university, we tend to focus on specifics with relatively little time on aspects such as ethics or morality - so the book helps to develop your teaching philosophy – and what defines you as a teacher. The book is incredibly insightful for both trainees, early career and experienced teachers. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and Alan has done a brilliant job writing it.
Amelia Sowden, Primary BA QTS, York St John University
An excellent book that gives everyone food for thought - an essential and invaluable read to new and experienced teachers. The book explores a variety of issues and provides direction on how to effectively navigate them. Alan gives indispensable support by sharing and examining his own teaching, but it is his reflections upon his own values that are so fascinating and relevant to everyone involved in education.
Aimee Lascelles, PGDE, University of Dundee
I was hooked from the start - the tone, the way it stipulates exactly what the book aims to do, how it is structured to enable the reader to dip in and out, etc. Great use of further and recommended reading per chapter too. I particularly enjoyed the ‘teaching and theory’ section. I found myself drawn into the question of whether we are reliant on the theory to underpin practice. I think this is fantastic thinking for all readers. I also enjoyed reflecting on the incident of children climbing high up in the tree and what the teachers were trying to achieve. This engaged my whole household in an interesting discussion! A thoroughly thought-provoking read - a pleasure to engage with.
Amelia Shimells, Primary BA QTS, York St John University
I found myself really reflecting on my own beliefs and politics – I really liked this. Alan’s honesty and transparency makes it easy to imagine oneself in those situations and consider what one’s own reactions might be to similar situations, especially ones like going on strike, where I found myself really being challenged. I enjoyed the ‘Discuss and reflect’ sections – having specific questions was really thought provoking. The book is helpful in relieving anxieties on how to handle situations in the classroom and offers a perspective of teaching backed by a wealth of experience and honesty.
Nicole Larkins, Primary trainee, South Farnham SCITT, Hampshire
What I love about this book is that everything is presented from authority and experience, not merely opinion. When Alan told the story of the troubled child and the father who beat him in front of him, he didn’t waste time stating ‘obviously, this was wrong’ but instead allowed us to process how we, as teachers, would respond in this situation. I was initially terrified of the 200 pages of appendices, but Alan clearly states how and why to approach them. I therefore enjoyed the debate on ‘Britishness’. This was introduced during my secondary school days and I remember we hated how it was presented – feeling it was nationalistic drivel. However, Alan provides a very good argument for how ‘British values’ should be explored in schools and now I will take it on board in my own teaching.
Nathan Alexander Kennedy, Secondary PGCE University of Sunderland
I highly recommend Alan's book as one of the core course texts. It is an invaluable companion for trainees throughout the PGCE year and supports them during their ECT years too and even for those contemplating a teaching career and preparing to apply.
Michelle Wormald, Programme Director Secondary PGCE, University of Hull
What is appealing about Alan's book is that it encompasses so many key aspects of ITT that are crucial. Not only does it relate to key legal elements of the role but has clear links to the teaching standards, professional and personal attributes and values – essential for all teachers. We will be providing all of our trainees with a copy of the book at the start of our training programme.
Stuart Russell, Director of ITT, Kent & Medway Teacher Training
This book is much needed in the ITT sphere, where new teachers grapple with the complexities of what it means to be a teacher. We will definitely use Alan’s book with our ITT students, adding it to the essential reading list for professional studies.
Professor Anna Lise Gordon, Director, Institute of Education, St Mary's University Twickenham
Alan tackles these issues brilliantly, with an extremely engaging style, he covers topics that are of real significance and importance but also very challenging. His input is so significant that most of our trainees achieve a Grade 1 in Part 2 of the Teaching Standards.
Janet Limburg, Course Leader and Programme Manager, Somerset SCITT
This book has tremendous merit and value providing a key text for students. Alan addresses sensitive issues in depth; issues that often cause confusion and uncertainty among trainees, NQTs and even RQTs. The format also aligns with the way we encourage trainee teachers to approach their studies which is to critically analyse and evaluate their practice and search for ways to strengthen and confirm their evolving teacher identities – so it will also appeal to all early career teachers.
Suzanne Allies, Senior Lecturer, School of Education, University of Worcester
I would encourage all trainee teachers to read this book. Alan uses his own experience to highlight the practical implications of each topic, making it relevant to all teachers, not just trainees. It should be an essential text for all ITT courses.
John Taplin, Programme Facilitator, Northampton TTP
This book really supports the work we do around professional values and teacher identity. A very useful addition to our reading lists across all our programmes.
Keither Parker, Associate Head (Education), York St John University
The publication of this book is great news for all our ITE programmes and for our Masters level modules.
Kate Brimacombe, Programme Leader: Postgraduate Primary ITE, Plymouth Marjon University
I will most certainly be using this book on our courses. The narrative style is lively and refreshing, and portrays a frank and honest discussion of the challenges that beginning teachers face through real-life and authentic anecdotes. It prompts reflection and debate on a number of issues, some of which move us from our comfort zone, but everything is grounded in the real world. I particularly like the reference to character and values and the implications this has for becoming a teacher. I also think a constructive look at fundamental British values and the Teaching Standards is much needed and long overdue. There are few books that critically examine the profession in this way.
Alison Hales, Senior Lecturer, School of Education, University of Greenwich
Alan delivers brilliant, thought-provoking sessions about professionalism. Our trainees always thoroughly enjoy hearing him speak. And for me, I always learn a lot. Now it’s good to have his wisdom and experience in this book.
Louise Leigh, Director, King Edward's Consortium SCITT, Birmingham