I am authentic. By that I mean I am true to myself, my beliefs and values. I am genuine. I believe this quality is needed to work with children, as they smell fakes and phoneys from a mile off. They simply don’t trust them.

I have had many incidents in my aged career in the classroom, where I know my children are looking for me to stand by my word, to stay true to what I believe. I have been in situations whereby children have relied on my authenticity to support them in making sense of the world we live in. They’ve looked to me as a figure of trust, as I am consistent in standing by what I believe in. I show the world who I am and I’m not afraid to do so. Children know where they stand with me, as do my colleagues.

I rock up to work and show the children how real I am. I speak of my emotions, my fears and worries, when the need arises- don’t get me wrong, I don’t bare all and indulge in every aspect of my life but I make them realise that I am human.

I have an example of how I found maths tricky at primary school. How things never really clicked for me during my junior years. I tell the tale of David Ingham Maths.

Now if you could ask any member of any class that I have taught over the years, they will tell you all about David Ingham Maths. It’s not a maths scheme, its a story. Its a story about a little girl who didn’t understand her maths but couldn’t ask for help, because she felt ashamed.

There was once a young girl who struggled to understand number, and for her, maths was just too hard. Every day she would struggle and have a little voice inside her head that told her she was rubbish at maths. She coped by copying from her friends and she got by. She was never helped by her teacher, as she hid it away so well, that she never picked up on it. Her times tables chants sent her into a panic and she would try to find an excuse to avoid joining in ( usually offering to be the tidy up monitor). The teachers never knew. She was far too ashamed to ask for help, she just wanted to be just like the others. She never shone, she never got praised and she felt overlooked but that suited her.

One day, her teacher moved her to a new place in the class. This unnerved her somewhat, as she was forced to sit next to the brainiest kid in her class, David Ingham. She was nervous and tried her best to fit in on the new table. She felt so out of place. She wondered why her teacher had done this. Maths was harder than ever and she found herself getting upset. One lesson, David Ingham asked her what was wrong and she told him…I’m rubbish at maths. From that day on, every maths lesson, David Ingham allowed her to work with him. He showed her his methods and sure enough she started to pick things up. Then, a few months down the line, the teacher had a word with her.

” I’m very pleased with your maths work, what has happened?” She finally told her teacher how she struggled with maths and how she asked David Ingham for help. Her teacher was shocked but pleased at the same time…but even better than that, the little girl was pleased that she had finally been truthful to herself and asked for help.

I tell this story to those children who struggle at maths. This is me being authentic in my understanding of how it feels. I share my rather shameful story of faking my maths lessons because I was too afraid of being honest with myself and others.

I will always be very open with people. Some may take this vulnerability as a weakness but I see it as a strength. The fact that I am an open book, that I stand true to myself and that I’m not afraid of saying this is me, has helped build wonderfully, honest relationships with my pupils, colleagues and friends, because with authenticity comes compassion which facilitates connection. They see me and all my imperfections. They allow me to relate to them. I am authentic. I have good days and bad days and I don’t hide either of them away. I ask for help when I need it and I’m not afraid of being imperfect. Some people see that as a flaw, a threat even, but that’s their call. I’m not that little girl who was afraid of being true to herself anymore…she grew up thanks to David Ingham Maths.

2 thoughts on “Authenticity

  1. This is just a lovely story. I agree with you – it’s so important to be real. It’s often tempting to hide our imperfections and pretend we’re doing great, while we’re struggling underneath, and so many children seem to want to do the same.

    When I started as a teacher I thought it was important that the children thought I knew everything, so they would trust me. I’ve since found it’s the opposite; when I admitted not knowing something, or not being as confident, they saw the real me, so they trusted me more. It allowed me to open up about real resilience, not being able to do everything first time, but overcoming the fear of failure and being right all the time so you can really progress.


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