Do we practise what we preach?

Although we do our best to set up our students with the skills to be lifelong learners, how many teachers actually actively pursue new learning themselves?

How many have, instead, plateaued?

The first few years in the classroom are challenging and invigorating and overwhelming.

But after a decade or so, you start to get “in the groove”. You stop trying to improve your pedagogy; your foot gets removed from the accelerator.

Here’s how I think we can change this “coasting culture”.

1. Incentivise further study. Teachers should be offered scholarships to do a Master’s degree or PhD, and then they should be able to access a higher pay scale once they’ve achieved it. Educators should be recognised- monetarily- for action research, career experience in other fields and self-education (such as webinars and other professional development) that they undertake.

2. Make mentoring mandatory. Arguably one of the best ways to force teachers to reflect on their own practice is to align them with preservice teachers and early career teacher mentees. In schools these days, this process is voluntary (and paid!) and yet the majority of classroom teachers opt out. Why? Because it’s difficult. It opens up your lesson delivery to scrutiny, feedback and criticism. Which is all the more reason why it should be commonplace.

3. Accountability for value-adding. Looking at student data as a measure of educator effectiveness is complex and flawed. However, every teacher should be able to, and required to, demonstrate the way they have helped students to grow. This could be displayed in the form of work samples, formative assessments, surveys, interview transcripts… the possibilities are endless.

4. Passion projects. If students can have them, why not teachers? They should be able to self-identify an area related to their job that they are then given regular chunks of time to investigate. To read widely about, to delve deeply into, and then to share with their colleagues.

5. Global perspective. Educators from countries all over the globe really should be more collaborative. Instead of competing against one another for the best PISA scores, we should be using technology to analyse and discuss what works in schools, and what doesn’t. Partnerships should be forged; think tanks with a common goal: the improvement of outcomes for students.

Unless you’re working on honing your craft, you’ve begun the process of depreciation.

And don’t our kids deserve better than that?


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