Want to keep learning?

This content is taken from the University of Reading's online course, Supporting Successful Learning in Secondary School. Join the course to learn more.


Being a good educator is knowing who you are and understanding yourself. This very much applies to the staff who have supporting roles within schools too, and metaphors are a useful tool in helping you do this.

Metaphors are comparisons between two unrelated concepts, in which one thing is said to be another. For example, “food for thought”, “the world’s your oyster”, or “they’re the apple of my eye”. This isn’t to be confused with similes which uses like or as for comparison. For example, “you slept like a baby”, “as quick as a flash” or “blind as a bat”. Metaphors are useful in making the complex simple, and indeed in terms of teaching, enable teachers to describe the complex task of teaching so others can understand it.

Using images can help you find a metaphor that can describe you as a member of the staff group at your school. For example, take a look at this image:

A photo of a gardener sowing seeds into soil

© Pixabay

This gardening metaphor is often a popular choice to describe an educator. As a gardener you can be seen to cultivate the ground, laying the foundations ready for young learners to grow. You create a healthy environment where they can happily grow and just like young plants, you would nurture the students and regularly water, feed and check for optimal conditions to ensure they continue to thrive. You would recognise that some plants will have different requirements and would tend to this to ensure growth. All of this done with time, care and patience.

Now it’s your turn. Take a few moments to look at the following images:

Image 1

A climber on top of a high mountain

© Pixabay license

Image 2

A photo of a tree standing against a strong wind

© Photo by Mahkeo on Unsplash

Image 3

© Photo by The Digital Marketing Collaboration on Unsplash

Image 4

A photo of a duck feeding her ducklings

© Pexel license

What do each of these images mean to you as a member of the learning support staff in your school? Share your ideas with your fellow learners in the discussion area below about what you thought of each one.

Share this article:

This article is from the free online course:

Supporting Successful Learning in Secondary School

University of Reading

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join: