Very short post in response to discussions on Twitter & reports from
- Children are all different
- Schools are all different
- Classes are all different
- Teachers are all different
What works for one teacher in one school in one class might not work for another teacher with the same class or the same teacher with a different class. And, importantly, what works for a senior teacher may not work for someone newer, or of a different gender or personality.
I’ve blogged before about this but seem not to have got my point across. I don’t especially object to the current swing towards more traditional methods of teaching & direct instruction. I realise that some teachers are more comfortable with delivering like this and some students (myself included) are happy with this way of being taught.
What I do think is important is not to dictate a single method of delivery in all circumstances. It removes the ability to focus on what works for you in a given school/class in a particular situation.
I left teaching a few years ago under a cloud. I was deemed to be ineffective, although my results were absolutely fine when compared to the national picture when teaching a course new to me and way above when I had been teaching another course for several years. Like many before me, I jumped before I was pushed.One of the things that upset them (& by them I really mean my Head of Department) was that I didn’t do things like they did. I wanted to treat students the way I had wanted to be (& mostly was) treated as a student. We paid lip service to the idea that we should take an interest in them as people but in reality that was superficial, on the level of “Which team do you support?”.
Looking back after several years away I’m beginning to gain a little perspective on the whole affair. I’m beginning to accept that I wasn’t a crap teacher, I was honest & I worked hard for the benefit of my students…. definitely the students rather than the establishment I think. What I haven’t yet regained is any trust in my own judgement. Before I left, after sick leave and while under the cloud of performance management/monitoring (I can’t remember what they called it, that time is now hazy), I reached a point where I just wouldn’t make any decision on the grounds that whatever I decided, I would be told I was wrong. That persists, and I get the impression, with the current ways of measuring schools and teachers that many others may well be doing the same. If we insist on children being taught in one single fixed way (and the fact that the method dictated keeps changing ought to be enough to make us wary), we are stifling the average teacher’s ability to make judgements and decisions and education, as a whole, will be the poorer for it.
Mavericks will always exist, and not all of them will be like SMW. I’m grateful they do. I know of some of them. They’re braver than I am. I wish now I’d stayed and fought, but at the time, I didn’t have their strength. I’m grateful they exist. I’d list some but I’ve got to go out now. I’ll add later. But they’re important, we need to listen to them. Don’t swallow “We must all do this because this is the one true way” It rarely is!