Can You Be Better Than Before?

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Is there a danger that ‘always striving to be better’ is damaging to the teaching profession?

For a generation, teachers have been told what and how to teach by external watchdogs, politicians and think tanks, by heads of department, senior leaders and education experts. There is very little discussion offered from teacher to teacher, about how to be better …

Cost of Improvement

Firstly, I’m all for school improvement and for teachers/teaching to better, but at what cost?

We know there is a recruitment and retention crisis. More teachers have left the profession than ever before and the Government has failed to reach their targets for the 5th year in a row.

Teachers are constantly observed, monitored and in some cases, still judged and graded in many schools. They are offered feedback on ‘how to improve’ from observers, when in fact they would best learn from others by watching another lesson themselves.

Teachers have been made to feel that they are no longer the expert in their classrooms.

Relentless Pressure

Imagine constantly being told you must be better than you were before. Teachers have come to accept this as their default mode. They have a never-ending to-do list and are under relentless pressure for this lesson to be better than the last and this year’s examination results to be stronger than ever before, even if their classes are already meeting or exceeding expectations.

In my career, I’ve seen teachers bullied, victimised, forced out through capability – whether valid or not – and others leave through natural wastage or restructuring.

So, as the appraisal season approaches, what is the solution?

Read Self-Review: For Appraisal or Development? if you would like to have an alternative approach to performance appraisal, to support teacher wellbeing and mental health.

This post is an extract from my new book.

@TeacherToolkit

In 2010, Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit from a simple Twitter account in which he rapidly became the 'most followed teacher on social media in the UK'. In 2015, he was nominated for '500 Most Influential People in Britain' in The Sunday Times as one of the most influential in the field of education - he remains the only classroom teacher to feature to this day ... Sharing online as @TeacherToolkit, he rebuilt this website (c2008) into what you are now reading, as one of the 'most influential blogs on education in the UK', winning the number one spot at the UK Blog Awards (2018). Today, he is currently a PGCE tutor and is researching 'social media and its influence on education policy' for his EdD at Cambridge University. In 1993, he started teaching and is an experienced school leader working in some of the toughest schools in London. He is also a former Teaching Awards winner for 'Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School, London' (2004) and has written several books on teaching (2013-2018). Read more...

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