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The Sad "Opportunity" of Secondary Teachers.

Discussion in 'Education news' started by La_Rojigualda, May 19, 2017.

  1. La_Rojigualda

    La_Rojigualda New commenter

    I am a Spanish national Teacher of Spanish, highly educated, previously a Lawyer in Spain, with a Teacher Training Course, especialised in teaching Spanish as a foreign language with the Instituto Cervantes, with a QTS here and permanent residence. I am simply in shock at the lack of respect that Teachers in the UK receive from the very same Educational system. In Secondary Schools Teachers are supposed to be specialists in their subjects. That means that they have chosen and spent years gaining a knowledge of the subject they want to teach, are passionate about and want their students to share their interest. They have also spent time learning about the best way to achieve that with the children of today. That is the theory.

    Then you land at an interview and they start trying to convince you that a good Teacher can actually teach "anything" simply because he/she is passionate about teaching, full stop. They said that I should be prepared to be told to teach any other MFL the next term, even if I did not have a clue about it, because at the end of the day it is the very same as any other language... a bit of Grammar, Vocabulary, and that's it. I currently have an A2 level in German, working towards a B1, too low for me to be comfortable with teaching it, because I believe that teaching is a huge responsibility and that Teachers simply have to know about their subjects. No respect whatsoever to the Teacher, and even worse to the students, who are supposed to be learning from somebody who actually knows what is talking about. And what is most annoying, it is presented as an "opportunity for the good Teachers to excell", even if they have to prepare the lesson the night before. And they expect this in MFL, where you cannot really isolate a little piece of the language without connecting it to what was taught the day, week or year before, or without it being connected to what is going to be taught the next day, week or year. Where accent alone is extremely important in order to communicate properly. They stick to a book, play the tracks or videos that come with it and also borrow some ready-made resource, in many cases done by Teachers who are non native and have made mistakes in their resources.

    I have seen Teachers of MFL who not only are not natives (it is perfectly fine if their command is truly close to that of an educated native, C2), but in many cases their actual command of their subject is minimal, not even A2. And sometimes nobody at the observation and interview could speak that language, so they only look at experience, in many cases an experience of teaching mistakes. So what about "languages are alive"... these Teachers would actually be scared of any spontaneous participation from the students, wanting to know how to say something out of the planned vocabulary, and the Teachers would have to either invent words so that they are not caught out on the spot, or tell them to look at the dictionary or ask tomorrow or tell them that they have very little time to finish the lesson. Is this really a way to respect Teachers and students? Should Secondary Teachers just stand up and applaud at being given this golden "opportunity" to show how good they are at not knowing what they are teaching but doing it in a passionate way? Are we Teachers or merely enthusiastic and passionate charlatans, scared of being asked anything out of the planned lessons? What is the point of Schools if at the end of the day Teachers are doing what students can do themselves with a computer at home? (Definition of charlatan: "a person who pretends or claims to have more knowledge or skill than he or she possesses". Sounds familiar.)

    I understand the very sad reality of a need to be flexible, I can see that there is a serious problem with funding, but I cannot accept that it is being presented as a "win". And I cannot see it being right, particularly for MFL or Arts as they cannot be taught in isolated bites. Language and Art techniques are connected in their specialities and it takes many years to have a good command of these subjects. I can hold a pencil, and I can hit a piano key. Does that mean that I can teach Art? I have spent 3 months learning French and I even spent a couple weeks in France, therefore I can teach French, can't I?

    We are educated adults, we are able to have critical thinking and see what is behind the sometimes enthusiastic speech of a "good Teacher can teach anything at short time, otherwise he is not a good Teacher". Please do not present a huge failure in the system as an opportunity. Would these Schools be proud to tell the parents and Ofsted that their MFL Teachers actually cannot speak the languages they are teaching, but not to worry because they are excellent Teachers? Really?

    The Head of Spanish of a School I went for an interview told me that he was leaving because he had been asked to teach Geography next term. Should I be happy to join that School "full of dedicated, enthusiastic, passionate and highly educated Teachers, a School that promotes excellence and that has a vision to offer its students the best possible education in order to success in life"?.

    Oh, rejoice! Embrace the lack of respect and support from the very Educational system of which we are a proud part.
  2. eljefeb90

    eljefeb90 Senior commenter

    Bienvenido al mundo orweliano del sistema de educacion inglesa. The reality and the rhetoric are so far apart in so many aspects of school life. 'Del dicho al hecho...'
  3. La_Rojigualda

    La_Rojigualda New commenter

    True. But when they present a failure as an opportunity it is even worse. We are intelligent enough to see BS shinning through, are we not?. We should be better than this and the specialism knowledge should be valued. It is not enough on its own to make a good Teacher, I completely agree, but it is an important part of it.
    Missbubbleblue likes this.
  4. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    You should send your post to the Guardian. They could use it as a secret teacher article.
    eljefeb90, Missbubbleblue and peggylu like this.
  5. peggylu

    peggylu Star commenter

    Many teachers will understand how you feel in this current climate. Chemistry teachers teaching maths, maths teachers teaching physics, I know two teachers (from 2 separate schools) who are choosing to move to jobs in new schools this September because of this very issue.

    TES are on it already.

    In the job specification for today’s teacher, there is almost an expectation that you will teach a second subject, if not three or four. But how often is that made clear in job ads?

    This is no way to improve the current crisis of teacher retention. Newly-qualified subject specialists looking to secure their first posts want to impart the knowledge of a subject in which they passionately believe. By forcing them to teach outside of their subject we are laying unstable foundations for their career to come. Is it any surprise, then, that so many choose to leave?

    bonxie likes this.
  6. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    don't take the job.
  7. La_Rojigualda

    La_Rojigualda New commenter

    There were other important issues I was not told about before the lesson and when latter I was told by one of the Teachers there that actually the knowledge of the subject is of no importance at all... that is why I had no problem raising the issue at the interview. Only some Grammar and vocabulary...

    No, thank you. I will continue looking for a School that is serious about getting good Teachers for its students, that values specialist knowledge first, then also the actual delivery of the lessons. A good Teacher has to have both and not being forced to learn the topic of the lesson for the very first time the night before the lesson and feel like he/she is being a charlatan, disrespecting the students in order to keep a job. How can the students respect a Teacher who knows just as much as they do about the subject? Would that Teacher actually pass the exams the students are required to pass?
    bonxie and dunnocks like this.
  8. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    it is ridiculous because they probably have staff on their payroll who would love to give it a go with some suitable team teaching/support/training.
  9. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    In primary there are many teachers teaching a MFL who know not a word of that language.
    Anonymity, eljefeb90, bevdex and 3 others like this.
  10. La_Rojigualda

    La_Rojigualda New commenter

    Also in Secondary. And sometimes neither the observers nor the interviewers can speak it, so they simply look at the experience of teaching mistakes even at A level. If we were thinking only in what is best for the children, nobody without at least C1 and better C2 should be teaching a MFL, full stop. Accent is also extremely important. Look... 16 years living and working here, in English. 15 more studying English in Spain. English is my second language. I might be fluent C2, but I occasionaly make mistakes and I have my Spanish accent. Who would you like to teach English to your own children... an educated British native speaker with QTS, or me? Then imagine that I only had learnt English for less than a year, and that the Schools actually chose me to teach your kids, because I have the experience of badly teaching English and I can also badly teach French, Music and whatever they ask me to, I will simply and without any shame read from a book, play a video and use some material full of mistakes made by another non native speaker. You would be extremely happy, I guess... so would be the educated British native speaker with QTS. At the end of the day, it is only a bit of Grammar and vocabulary, is it not?
    Anonymity likes this.
  11. La_Rojigualda

    La_Rojigualda New commenter

    I could see that with some subjects, but MFL or Arts, it is not a matter of isolated bits, it takes many years to get a good command of the subject. With MFL one might be able to understand, write and read, but would the natives understand his/her accent? If they cannot, would you want for your kids that Teacher who cannot communicate and be understood? If he/she were a private Tutor, would you be happy to pay money for the lessons? Maybe that will help explain my point.

    Would any parent be happy to pay a private Tutor with the same command of the subject as their kids have? Why is this seen as normal is Schools, which are supposed to be places of knowledge and education.
  12. palmtree100

    palmtree100 Lead commenter

    Almost all secondary MFL posts require teachers to teach at least 2 languages, sometimes three. Like you say, they don't seem to think it's a problem if you only have a GCSE in one of them. They should employ separate teachers for each language, in my opinion. They should be native speakers, or at least fluent speakers.
    eljefeb90, bonxie and emartinez_1971 like this.
  13. palmtree100

    palmtree100 Lead commenter

    Plenty of MFL specialists looking for work in primary, but schools cannot afford them and don't prioritise MFL at all.
  14. DrJay

    DrJay Occasional commenter

    Just for your information, this is not the case is Scotland. You need a honours degree in a subject (e.g. history) to be able to qualify to teach that subject in Scottish school. If you have to be recognised to teach a second and/or third subject, you need at least 120 undergraduate credits/units + experience of teaching these additional subjects before the GTCS would recognise you as a teacher of that subject.

    In England, it would appear that anything goes - just as you have mentioned. And, I think it's a joke, one that is ostensibly very much linked to cost cutting.
  15. fishcake

    fishcake New commenter

    ...at least there are teaching jobs here in the UK, and regular teacher movement between posts, unlike the dreadful situation for teachers in Spain
  16. DrJay

    DrJay Occasional commenter

    What's the point in resorting to argumentum ad hominem which tantamount to chasing the shadow rather than the reality.:rolleyes:
    emartinez_1971 likes this.
  17. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    I have just applied for a teaching job in a secondary school in which a teaching qualification and teaching experience were listed as "desirable" rather than "essential"

    but I don't understand this though, because I know people in Scotland who are most definitely not graduates of the subject they are teaching, and in any case, how can you have a system where you have to have experience of teaching something before you are allowed to teach it?
  18. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    The independent sector has retained its integrity, have you considered applying there?
    emartinez_1971 likes this.
  19. La_Rojigualda

    La_Rojigualda New commenter

    That seems to be the only debating resource for far too many people in recent times. Tiring, isn't it. I do criticise what I have to criticise, because at my age I happen to have quite a lot of experience in calling things for what they are, it does not matter whether or not they come from my birth country or from the one in which I have lived for over 1/3 of my life and which will soon be in my passport too, if that is the only thing fishcake can pay attention to. How sad.

    I cannot define a Teacher as a good one for simply being a charlatan, making students, parents and Ofsted believe that he/she knows about the subject when with luck his knowledge is actually at the same level as his best students. Cross your fingers and wish that they do not know more than you do! That was what a terrible Teacher was seen like not so long ago. A good Teacher is that who has an excellent knowedge of his subject AND the ability to pass that knowledge onto the students, not only managing a lesson they just learnt, shutting up noise, reading from a book and playing a video or a presentation full of mistakes. And of course I would say exactly the same whatever the country where that happens and stil complain about the situation here.

    Because it has to be complained about, not simply swallowed, be it in fear by intelligent people or even enthusiastically by those who lack any critical thinking skills and I might guess fall perfectly in the charlatans side. Repeat after me... "specialities are not important, a good Teacher can teach anything. Otherwise he is simply a bad Teacher, and you are a good Teacher, are you not?" and again... Great, there you are, now you can teach 3 subjects plus your original 2, including 2 MFL you cannot even say what your name is, that is not important. What a great Teacher you are. Get ready for all the meetings, assessments, data, etc, etc.. you are so good!
  20. La_Rojigualda

    La_Rojigualda New commenter

    There are good Schools there, still worrying about respecting specialities and what is best for their students. I recently had an interview in one of those, I really hope that they will cal me. I understand competition will be fierce, with good reason!

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