Orders, Orders, Orders!
Children, ordered by teachers, ordered by heads, ordered by Ofsted and other governing bodies, ordered by the government!!It seems that everybody is taking orders from somebody else and the lower down the pecking order you are, the more likely you are to be taking orders‚Ä¶ Such is life!! But conflict in orders can be the difference between having a good practice and a poor practice. Let‚Äôs take teaching for instance. Good old Ofsted have specific ways in which they would like teachers to teach. There are guidelines set up and enforced by Ofsted on what makes a good teacher, but let‚Äôs be honest here, it does feel like this is so that all teachers can be compared on a national statistic. But what if the way Ofsted want teachers to teach is not a correct way or a suitable way, or a practical way?
Having taught for a while now, I have got to observe many teachers, most of them being super excellent. Yet some of those teachers, whom have got their children exceeding expectation, have been slated by Ofsted, thus resulting in lowering the self-esteem of the teacher, lowering the grades of the school, and having an impact on the way a great teacher might be teaching. We all strive to impress the government‚Äôs henchmen by trying to tick every box possible. However, being taken out of our comfort zones or alter our teaching style because it doesn‚Äôt meet regulation surely can‚Äôt be good for teacher our learner?!
I found this article on TES about the usage of bad techniques and thought it might slightly relate to what I have been writing previously.
‘Why do teachers use classroom techniques they don‚Äôt believe in just because they are ordered to?’
16th May 2016 at 15:02|
Instead of going through the motions, staff must stand up for what they believe in, says a deputy headteacher
Each August, as the late summer bank holiday passes, I find myself faced with recurring dreams¬†in which I struggle to maintain control of a classroom.
As I‚Äôve explained to my classes in the past, being one person in charge of 30 is actually quite a vulnerable position. Should all¬†my pupils ‚Äì or even a sizeable group of them ‚Äì decide to collaborate to undermine the teacher, then my¬†visions of children standing on tables, recreating scenes from Grange Hill could easily materialise.
Of course, this has never happened to me. It‚Äôs never likely to. Presumably there‚Äôs some¬†conditioning behind it. I‚Äôm no psychologist.
If we must‚Ä¶
But the more I hear and read about what goes on in schools, the more I wonder why staff meetings don‚Äôt descend into the sort of chaos that my August dreams conjure up. It seems that often the whole staff body¬†might share the same reservations about the latest wheeze dreamed up by their senior leadership team, yet continue to plough ahead with the tasks they are given.
Mark everything in three different colours, you say? Well it sounds like a lot of effort for very little return, but if we must‚Ä¶
Provide five¬†levels of differentiation in every lesson‚Äôs tasks? Well, surely that‚Äôs a lot of time that could be better spent supporting the children who most need it to achieve the main goal, but if you insist‚Ä¶
Make all children copy down the learning objective for every lesson from the board? Well, many of them can barely read it, let alone understand what they‚Äôre writing, but if you think it will help‚Ä¶
Rebellion in the ranks
Such practices are widespread and almost equally widely bemoaned. So why do they still exist? Why aren‚Äôt teachers up and down the land insisting that they be stopped? Why isn‚Äôt there more rebellion?
I‚Äôm not suggesting that teachers start clambering on tables and throwing fork-skewered sausages across the room in staff meetings, but surely there has to be a sensible middle ground? It can‚Äôt be right that thousands of teachers are going through the motions every day using practices that they don‚Äôt think are worthwhile just because they were told to.
Schools are, after all, buildings filled with professionals. Teachers are well trained¬†and expert at what they do. Our approaches ought to benefit from the wisdom of the crowd, yet too often the crowd appears to acquiesce to the whims of school leaders. Before we know it, what starts off as a crazy idea in one or two schools becomes the new wisdom.
Bad practice can spread just as quickly as good practice, and our only filter is the army of teachers across the country who have to implement each of these ideas. Maybe next time someone stands at the front of a staff meeting with another hare-brained scheme, we‚Äôd do well to offer just a little more resistance than before.
Michael Tidd is¬†deputy head of Edgewood Primary in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire. He¬†writes weekly for¬†TES¬†and tweets at¬†@MichaelT1979
What are your views on this issues raised? Please leave your comments.