Back To School: Values And Metrics

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Core Values Jigsaw


Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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What are your values and how will you measure your success this academic year?

If you are frustrated about what we are collectively doing within the education system, how can we stop talking and actually start doing something about it? It all starts with the things that we value and how we measure them.

What do you value and measure?

I value writing on this website and how I measure this is by writing at least once a week on my website. If I manage to blog once a week then I’m happy and I can go about day-to-day feeling some form of achievement. If I don’t reach this then I’m a little more frustrated. When I share more thoughts and resources, you and I are both happy – or at least I am if this is not something you value. Make sense?

Writing books, blogs or teaching and learning policies, if this is something you value, then a simple measure is to target “200 crap words per day” and then anything with more substance is rewarding. I suppose these ‘personal’ goals are easier to manage, but what about at work and in school?

In school, I value positive relationships between colleagues and students and I measure this by seeing how happy a student is by observing how they are immersed in their learning. There are countless others beyond ‘just data’ and although many school leaders will acknowledge this, Government league tables and inspection often blurs our values and metrics …

Metrics at work

So, what if you are choosing a poor metric for yourself and for your teaching career?

If you value something by the metrics set by something that you do not value, for example, GCSE grades or passing your appraisal which has been set by someone else, then there is a high chance that your success will be beyond your control. This, of course, will lead to some form of unhappiness. Note, I’m not denying I’ve been allured by the fallacy of ‘outstanding’ lessons and securing good exam results. As the years have passed by, I started to realise that these perceived outcomes of my classroom performance were out of my control.

So, how can you go about setting your parameters and not making the same mistakes?

Values at work

As a teacher, I’ve written and have reflected on my vision and values for three decades. First and foremost, schools must have structures in place to ensure all students are safe so that teachers can teach as freely as possible; within a flexible timetable and dynamic curriculum to enrich students to contribute fully to school life.

Secondly, to make learning challenging and as relevant as possible for all students, including the most disaffected. Finally, schools must equip students to leave school with a portfolio of qualifications, teaching students character and resilience so that they can contribute in their adult lives and in wider society.

These are values we all share, but the metrics lie at a whole-school level; collective teacher efficacy. Meaning, we all contribute to the success of a school, but the values and how they are measured may lie out of our control.

Take control

The following questions are something that you can control and something worth considering for your personal wellbeing.

  1. Beyond data, what impact do you want to make on your students this year?
  2. What influence will you have on your colleagues? How will you know?
  3. How will you define what you value and measure in your classroom? And why?

This could be the year you change your ‘values and measures’ dialogue. If that’s you, I’d love to hear about it.

I wish you well for the academic year ahead; thank you for reading Teacher Toolkit and I hope to meet you on my teacher training travels throughout the academic year.

5 thoughts on “Back To School: Values And Metrics

  1. Hi Ross
    I’ve been following you and reading your blog for a few years, congratulations on the amazing impact you have on many us.
    I’ve been recently appointed Head of MFL in a big comprehensive after 4 years as a senior leader in a small independent school. This is a challenge for me as it’s a much bigger school with very different type of pupils and my main role is to develop the MFL department but I’ve been given extra responsibilities in curriculum development more specifically implementing PLTS, one of my areas of expertise.
    I wanted to work in a comprehensive school to expose myself to different types of establishments after 2 grammar schools and a private school. This year I’ve applied to complete the NPQSL and I want to develop my career to work as a school improvement consultant or a deputy head to support the Head.
    I’m considering working in Dubai or stay I London. Some people asked me why I would leave a job in a lovely small independent school for a challenging big comprehensive, but I’ve always had this feeling that I needed to be where the real challenges are although it’s being difficult and stressful. The problem is that the school leaders don’t seem to give me the opportunities I need to help improve the school.

    1. Thank you Natalia – context and experience are so key to all of our work. Your personal circumstances will also be a significant factor in your choices; depends on how long you see yourself in your new school or moving to Dubai. I’ve had mixed feedback from teachers in Dubai. My suggestion for anyone wanting to bend the ears of school leaders; volunteer; be relentless; be consistently polite and relentless in your pursuit for high standards; always ask the awkward question in the room (with a smile).

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