Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Pirahna occupation

Something that I always looked forward to was being part of a collegiate profession. I observed as a student that teachers worked as a block and always supported each other publicly. How different it is from the inside.

Criticism of teachers by teachers is rampant, a common source of gossip in the staff room. That's not to say there aren't some outstanding people that seek to assist the teacher needing a hand ( and often it's those you least suspect ), but often given an opportunity the boot goes in spikes and all. Often this results in losing developing teachers or slowing their progress with them doubting their progress. Maybe it's hard for experienced teachers to remember back to their first couple of years where behaviour management was dodgy at times and content knowledge and delivery was far from perfect.

This has also grown a culture of defensiveness, where teachers take insult where none is intended. I had to laugh when I heard that insult was taken by overhearing a reference to a stereotype of the stinginess of a specific religion via a movie quote. If I took offence for every time a Scot was called stingy I'd be in a continuous flap about nothing.

It would be much better to see a developing mentality seeking constant improvement rather than seeking to attack the weakest link. I suppose it's always been in the back of my mind that one day it might be me that needs that support due to a range of issues out of my control (lack of sleep, personality conflict, family crisis, overload of work, poor timetable, teaching out of area etc.)

It's humorous that we criticise each other rather than our superiors (which is more common in other occupations). It's even stranger to hear the criticisms filter downwards from senior staff. Who would ever think to do that in a management position? To some degree though, I understand their frustration as the ways of actually performing any form of performance management seems to be limited to, 'this could be a good idea for your classroom' or going through dismissal procedures over serious misdemeanours.

The closed door policy of many classrooms also makes me scratch my head. I don't understand - 'this is my work and I'm not sharing' or the lack of interest in common planning activities. I suppose that idealism of 'we are here in the best interest of the kids first and foremost' still rules my thinking and the cynicism still hasn't fully kicked in.

I was also thinking about next year, and how classes will fall to teachers; how will admin arrange classes. Will it seek optimal learning (and place the strongest teachers with the strongest students) or will it take a capacity building role again giving teachers an opportunity to develop their skills. If it does the former, what will be done to support and prevent burnout of the developing teachers. If it does the latter how will it ensure that adequate student performance is maintained. If a middle road is taken how will that work?

On another note, again I was reminded of the need for revision and pre-testing yesterday, when students showed that they had limited recall work they had previously successfully completed. I'm glad I've noticed as I will now create a revision paper for the test. That should assist them further.

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