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How to break a teacher in 12 months

Discussion in 'Education news' started by Scintillant, Nov 9, 2015.

  1. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    I'll post the whole of it because it bears reading. Utterly depressing. However did we get here?

    It's from Marc Smith who blogs here and is also on twitter
    https://psychologyineducation.wordpress.com/

    I work in an amazing semi-rural North Yorkshire school. It’s a smaller than average school so it’s more intimate in many ways; the kids are well-behaved in the main, to the extent that visitors to the school often comment on how polite and courteous they are. According to Ofsted we are ‘Good’, but that was a few years ago.

    Those who know me or follow me on Twitter or read my blog will know that I have a passion for teaching and the learning process. We may have bumped into each other at events or conferences or you might have seen me present at ResearchED or Northern Rocks – education is what I do and love ‘doing’ it.

    My story begins in the summer term of 2014 with an unfavourable Local Authority review of the school and the resignation of our Head Teacher. An interim Head was appointed for the September with the intention to appoint permanently by either Christmas or Easter. We also appointed a new Deputy Head in September 2014. Understandably, one of the many things that needed looking at was the quality of teaching and learning, and this defines the limits of my story, which begins a little over a year ago.

    I began teaching in 2004 so I’ve been observed many times (three times by Ofsted). Generally speaking (apart from a couple of minor hiccups) I am considered a ‘good’ teacher and borderline ‘outstanding’ at several times throughout my career. Nevertheless, I was beginning to feel that I was coasting a little bit by the time the newly appointed Deputy Head Teacher made a surprising visit to my classroom in the autumn term of 2014. I knew the lesson was rather uninspiring, a belief confirmed by my observer who rated it as ‘requiring improvement’.

    [I probably need to point out here that my school retains lesson grading’s for ‘professional development’ purposes].

    We had a good chat and we discussed improvements (group work, deeper questioning, pace) and I made lots of notes, intending to go away and do some homework, to reflect on my practice and return with a lesson more appropriate to my abilities and aspirations.

    Several weeks later the Deputy Head observed me again. It was a simple 20-minute check to see if I had implemented the advice in order to get myself back up to good.

    ‘Well’, said the Deputy Head, ‘you’ve done everything we asked you to do. But not enough for a good’.

    I was disappointed but not beaten. I was put on the next ‘phase’ of the improvement programme and paired with another teacher and we were both under the guidance of a Local Authority advisor. I found it slightly odd to be paired with a drama teacher but I was enthusiastic. I also arranged to observe another teacher in the school to get a feel of why my lessons were lacking that ‘certain something’.

    The intervention went really well and I have to admit I did enjoy it. The three of us would sit down and discuss areas for improvement, free from the confines of lesson grades, and the LA advisor reported back to the Deputy Head that I had made excellent progress.

    During this time the Local Authority returned for a follow-up review and all staff were observed. With some trepidation I approached my observer and asked for some feedback. To my delight the feedback was incredibly positive and, although no grade was given, the magic word ‘good’ popped up on several occasions. I went home that day with a big smile on my face.

    In July we were all observed again by members of SLT. This was my chance to shine, my chance to implement all the things I had gathered from the last few months and produce that solidly good lesson. I smiled politely as the SLT member entered my classroom. I was enthused.

    Feedback didn’t go well. I hadn’t applied Blooms Taxonomy to my questioning, pace dropped on a couple of occasions and progress wasn’t visible.

    Verdict: Requires Improvement.

    I was more than disappointed.

    I had the summer holidays to recover and it was a wonderful summer both personally and professionally. I attended and spoke at ResearchED Scotland and the ResearchED National Conference, so I used this opportunity to pick some brains and get a better feeling of where I was going wrong. I attended some amazing sessions by some outstanding people but I couldn’t get past the feeling that I was some sort of fraud – after all, I was a teacher requiring improvement!

    I retuned to school in September hoping that the positives (the enthusiasm of the LA advisor to my progress and the positive outcome of the LA review) would counter my July observation. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case. Exam results for my subjects were better than the previous year but still not good enough and my predictions (tracking) were a little wonky. I was placed on the next level of the intervention – one stage away from capability proceedings.

    I’ve had one more observation since then. By this time however I had lost any faith I might have had in the process. I felt the lesson went well, I emphasised collaboration and independent learning; the pupils enjoyed the lesson and felt that they had learned a lot.

    The observation schedule looks positive – lots of ‘yes’s’ in answer to questions that begin ‘Did the lesson…?’ or ‘Did pupils…?”

    …yet the conclusion is still ‘requires improvement’.

    I leave teaching in December, with no plans to return to the classroom.
     
    thekillers, jomaimai, TEA2111 and 5 others like this.
  2. irs1054

    irs1054 Star commenter

    This is what sums it up for me. The decision had been made and they weren't about to let a little thing like facts get in the way of it.
     
  3. emerald52

    emerald52 Star commenter

    A sad loss to the profession. Who will be left if this continues? I'm sure someone with your talents will succeed but what a horrible situation for you.
     
    Anonymity, flutebird and FolkFan like this.
  4. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter

    New management displays rigour and robustness in the observation process.

    That's what this was about really.

    Tragic, but I am pleased the teacher in question recognised the situation and has decided to get out, there are no rewards for being a martyr.
     
  5. cissy3

    cissy3 Star commenter

    Appalling, but too prevalent (ime.) My first RI in thirty years of teaching led to my taking early retirement.
     
  6. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    Sums it up for me too... as others have said, this tosh, this terrible way of treating people [do what we say but don't get a reward for doing so] is driving teachers out. I'm not kidding... one ex-colleague is already gone because of exactly this... off to teach abroad... and best of luck to him.
     
  7. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    Just went to post that on my FB... and now I'm not actually sure I can...

    Hmmm...
     
  8. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

  9. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    What a terrible story.
     
    thekillers and TEA2111 like this.
  10. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    Such a loss. I must point out that I visit a lot of schools in the course of a year and you can place them all along the spectrum from a pleasure to work for to a pit of hell. If your school becomes a pit of hell then please do consider that some schools would be utterly delighted to take you on board and have you come and do a good job at their school. And those schools do exist - there are some really good headteachers our there for every shockingly poor headteacher.

    I meet more and more dispirited teachers in my travels for sure, but those positive schools and headteachers do exist. That suggestion of a school survey to identify those schools that are a pleasure to work for would be a strong step forward. I can't believe that the unions haven't put their hand in their pocket to have an app built which does exactly this. It can't be much more than a few thousand quid to have that knocked up.
     
  11. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    For requires improvement read "expensive".
     
  12. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    I am always sorry to hear of established teachers being managed from their jobs for no good reason, if this is what happened here, and I hope that Mr. Smith fares well in the future, perhaps falling back on his other professional qualifications.

    I do not think that Smith should have been surprised by the new deputy's visit. When the headmaster of a school is despatched then everyone on the staff should gird their loins, especially those in the apparently softer subjects. In this sense, although it is cold comfort, it may have been that there was nothing personal about this whole thing.

    My unconditional sympathy is challenged by two sections of the blog post:



    Of course, there are at least two sides to every story and I am sure that each have their arguments.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2015
    needabreak likes this.
  13. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter

    Just send this to anyone you know who is thinking of entering teaching (or has a son/daughter who is...)
     
    flutebird likes this.
  14. catmother

    catmother Star commenter

    When was it decided that lessons should be inspiring? Did someone watch "Dead poets society" one time too many?
     
  15. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Inspiring is not necessarily used here in the sense that the lesson did not inspire the pupils, but probably more euphemistically.
     
  16. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    How can you be expected to do things beyond what you were asked?
    Teachers aren't mind readers. No worker should be punished for not be able to jump through hoops even the manager can't define accurately.
     
    TEA2111 likes this.
  17. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    I know, I thought along very similar lines. However, I think the general issues it raises, and the awareness it seems to have raised among a section of the teaching/blogging/twitter community regarding issues that they seldom encounter, make it worth posting.

    I recall a few headteachers who have trumpeted the good reviews from Ofsted but protested loudly about the unsound basis for the inadequates and *** they received... (the bit blanked out is (RI s) - bit weird!
     
  18. snowyhead

    snowyhead Lead commenter

    Another loss to the profession. This just proves that absolutely no-one is immune from punitive lesson observation judgements and leverage out of teaching. Even a high profile contributor to ResearchEd has jacked it in. Who next? Tom Bennett - the behaviour guru?

    .
     
  19. Dragonlady30

    Dragonlady30 Star commenter

    Heartbreaking, just heartbreaking!!
     
    TEA2111 likes this.
  20. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Perhaps some of them need to encounter it a little more often. There are some good people out there, like Marwood and Old (although the latter's latest project has me scratching my head) but many more of them need to focus more effort in the classroom and spend less time conference-slapping each other on the back with their 'passion'.

    I expect that Smith has something lined up, having forever foresworn the classroom. He should have. Not many schools will be clamouring for his services given the quantities of venom ejaculated with that dummy.
     

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