Why is it that some teachers are punished for doing a good job?
… or should I say, ‘pick up the slack’ for colleagues who are absent, incompetent or lack long-term quality. This is a blog I’ve been wanting to write for over 15 years. Allow me to expand on an example:
As a form tutor for over 10 years – I’m currently a form tutor again in a vertical tutoring system – I became fairly good at doing the pastoral aspects of school life. As a tutor, I was far from an expert in safeguarding or child-protection (it wasn’t given the high-profile as it is now), but using my Salvation Army background in the social services, working with students from disadvantaged backgrounds, dealing with difficulties came natural to me.
Pleasure or Chore?
Being Good or Bad?
- The senior teacher asks you to take over the tutor group temporarily.
- You hope that the co-tutor is now strong enough to move on to having their own group.
- You jump to the challenge and volunteer, leaving behind 2 or 3 years of established relationships with pupils and families.
On this occasion, rather than move the co-tutor to have their own tutor group and work with this difficult class, the decision was made to move me as a more experienced person to manage the group. Was this a coincidence because the other tutor was underperforming? I have no idea because this information was not under my jurisdiction as a middle leader, but the reputation of this colleague and class preceded them. It was obvious to all other staff and students.
The move was supposed to be a temporary move, but inevitably it became permanent. I, therefore, lost the tutor group that I had spent several years moulding into a desirable group of students to be with every day. In many ways, by ‘being good I had made myself transferable’ and what had always been a lovely start and end to each day, was now a chore and a challenge.
Where can we find similar examples in other aspects of school life? Well, almost everywhere:
- ‘Ms. Good’ teacher takes over an absent colleague’s class. In-year timetabling makes this an additional allocation.
- ‘Mrs. Reliable’ is placed on the front door of the canteen at break to manage 500 hungry students.
- ‘Mr Conscientious’ becomes part of the transition team to meet new parents. Six evenings a year …
- ‘Mrs. Strict’ is asked to cover a class at the last minute.
- ‘Mr Inadequate’ teacher gets a smaller class to reduce the number of low grades.
- ‘Ms I-Can-Handle-It’ takes on an extra 5 students in their class.
- ‘Mr Money-Grabber’ applies for extra responsibilities because he wants the money, and the easy work.
- ‘Dr. Project’ wants a whole-school project so he can have more time taken off his timetable with children.
- ‘Ms. Friendly’ requests to line-mange more of her mates so that she can have more pay for having a chat every week.
- and many others …
We need to see teaching as a team effort and operate as a ‘school’ teacher. This may be difficult to achieve in times of performance-related pay, but it is something we should keep trying to aspire towards, whether you believe yourself to be good or not!