Friday, September 5, 2008

Different approaches to supporting teachers

It is interesting to view different teaching styles and different ways of supporting teachers. Support staff such as team leaders and HODs are important parts of school machinery. I've been to a couple of schools and have made a few observations about how these support staff operate.

Type 1: Student focused (Soft and mushy).
The soft and mushy students support person always has the student in the forefront of their mind. They are 'friends' of the student, listen to their grievances and reason through their issues. Issues with this person relate to support of students based on student reporting of incidents especially as students often only relate parts that they remember and conveniently forget negative portions. Positives of this type of support staff is that many issues can become non-issues without further teacher intervention and they can negotiate middle-grounds where teachers and students both feel POV is acknowledged and resolution has been achieved. They also have great rapports with parents. Generally supporters of BMIS management techniques.

Type 2: Authoritative (Firm and stern)
For me, the easiest support person to deal with as many issues are black and white. They will investigate, report and resolve issues. In most cases will lean to the side of the teacher. Negatives is that some students will feel that their POV is not given enough weighting. Positive is that student POV is not given weighting over teacher and holistic classroom position. Middle ground resolution tends to focus on end results and measurable future performance. Generally supporters of the "teacher is boss" type mentality.

Type 3: Administrative (Paper pusher)
This is the worst type to my mind as nothing gets resolved but all paperwork is in order. Chaos tends to follow a support person of this type and responsibility is delegated to anyone but the support person for ultimate resolution of an issue. For specific issues they are often unavailable as they are pursuing "pet" projects. They tend to be active self promoters. The main negative is the sheer amount of unresolved issues pushed back onto teachers - students are not sent to support staff unless an unresolvable issue within the classroom has been encountered and pushing unresolvable situations back to teachers does not help maintain programme momentum. The only positive is that major incidents have well recorded backgrounds. Generally supporters of give anyone the responsibility as long as it is not me.

As I think of more I will add them to the list.

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