Having just observed this week’s #SLTchat, it would be useful to summarise my thoughts on the key themes that pervaded the huge amounts of tweets. As my first term as a member of SLT comes to a close (which requires more reflection in the form of a blog post in the near future), #SLTchat has provided a great deal of ideas and support for me since starting my new post in September. Perhaps more importantly though, it has sparked me to challenge my own thinking and forced me to reframe my perspective on a number of issues. The themes tonight have added to the bank of professional thoughts and questions that I consistently reflect on.
Many of tonight’s tweets centred around the call for the government and Ofsted to place more ‘trust’ in teachers. Perhaps, at the centre of this thought is that there is too much monitoring and ‘observation’ of classroom practice. Certainly, lesson observations and a plethora of scrutinies have crept into the process of monitoring teaching and learning in schools. But would it be right to remove this level of ‘surveillance’? Is it possible to trust that all teachers can and will work hard for the children in their care? Are all teachers able to provide a good quality standard of teaching and learning? In my view, it is the way that we monitor teachers that needs to be the focus. A culture of support and development needs to be ensured in schools so that good teaching and learning is cultivated. We need less ‘weighing’ and more ‘feeding’. And this goes for all teachers. Innovations in practice can be made by all.
An important point was made about the amount of time that is spent carrying out PPA tasks. The workload issue is one that constantly raises its head in discussions between teachers and certainly is a problem that has caused many teachers to leave the profession. One tweet this evening centred around the need to ensure that everything we do is worthwhile for the children and not a ‘tick box’ exercise to evidence something for Ofsted inspectors. Marking and feedback is a vital part of ensuring children make progress. However, marking and feedback can be absolutely pointless if it does not focus on the actual learning that is taking place. I think the area we need to focus on as teachers is that of increasing the quality of marking and feedback rather than simply trying to cut down time spent on it. I think the two go hand in hand: by ensuring quality, I believe, we may be able to cut down on the increasingly large amounts of time we spend on it.
The last tweet that sparks an element of reflection was from James Bowkett who noted:
What James highlights is that teachers are forced to spend time keeping up with constant change, which stems from the level of policy makers. While I believe wholeheartedly that change is important if teaching and learning is to improve (and particularly to reflect the world that we live in), schools do require time to embed and adapt policy and ensure it works for the school and its individual pupils.
Teaching is not an easy job. It never will be. It shouldn’t be. But it is an incredibly important one that impacts lives. Whatever the issues we may have with the job are, it is fundamentally important to remember – and place at the heart of what we do – the children we work with.