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a focus on the mechanism used in schools to ‘improve standards’ called Professional Development which actually just measures the effective endeavour right out of the job itself; rendering it Absurd …

I think I know why I don’t like teaching.   In the last 10-12 years the need and obsession to identify accountability as a means of defining professionality in teaching has worked through the system like a virus.   As it has strengthened and gained ‘currency’ as legitimate discourse within public service, it has found ways of measuring the delivery of teaching.   In measuring the delivery of teaching, it has had to focus on aspects of teaching which are measurable (i.e. what can be seen to be done, what can be ticked to have been seen).   To focus on the aspects of teaching which are measurable, the monitoring of teaching can only be done periodically, according to its own timetable (i.e. not ongoingly as part of the whole delivery of teaching in the school), and thereby creates a whole additional pressure and expectation for the teacher.   A teacher is left with a dilemma which they can’t refuse: either teach with humanity, compassion and principle and be declared unworthy of the licence to teach; or teach to the tick-boxes, whatever that takes, and teach yourself not to feel loss.


Because performance management is based on this occasional and additional measure, there is an inbuilt disregard of the motive and commitment – the extra time and energy – that goes into the actual day to day, lesson to lesson, stack-of-books to stack-of-books, tracking to tracking, resource-creation to resource-creation of the job.   That is all extra to a ‘bottom line’, it is disregarded (it is taken as given), and it is especially disregarded when the adventitious measure of the teacher falls short in some way.   In this way morale is deflated – ongoingly and relentlessly.   The only strokes you’ll get from the job will be if you happen to be good at providing things which are measurable, a skill quite independent of the skills of teaching in the first place.

An NQT’s (Newly Qualified Teacher completing their first year after qualification) contract will not be renewed.   Kids love him, he energises both high and low ability pupils because of his natural cleverness and ability to engage young people in a natural, intellectual dialogue.   However, because he refuses to give work and consideration to items highlighted in his performance management – whether he puts a starter here or a Learning Objective there: these things which are easily measurable (tick-boxed) where he doesn’t score well – he will not continue teaching at his initial school.   He has natural communicative and pedagogic ability but the system will not nurture or exploit it unless he mangles that ability into a meticulous, measurable procedure that would numb and atrophy it altogether with fore-thought.   He might chose not to – I would say that is a wise and courageous choice; I wish I had that conviction.   I wonder how many other ‘natural’ teachers are excised from the profession in this way.

Be very clear about this: the teaching profession is being bleached clean by retaining those people who can demonstrate narrowly-defined, adventitious and algorithmic teaching skills (bish-bash-bosh skills, the quickest way to make a certain statistic rise), leaving those teachers inclined to organic and human communication to wait bitterly for their retirement if they can last that long.

————w(O)rmholes________________________________|—–

performance wormhole: Assessment for Learning: the Prologue
professionalism & teaching craft & workload wormhole: Hartley’s Jam
results-led education & value-led education wormhole: ‘but, Mark, what do you want …’

 

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