Friday, August 23, 2013

Are teachers trusted?

One of my goals at the start of this year was to engage in a developmental process of improving my practice by taking risks. And I was prepared for a 'FAIL' (First Attempt In Learning).

John Hattie says "A teacher's job is not to make work easy.  It is to make it difficult.  If you are not challenged, you do not make mistakes. If you do not make mistakes, feedback is useless."

Therefore, I've given my students a 'choice' in the learning activities they can choose to be involved in during my time working with students in a guided reading lesson. 
By knowing what the needs of the students in my classroom are, learning activities they were able to choose from were ones that  encouraged quality learning and which were of specific purpose to them. In this case our focus were on 'Word Work'.

I believe that overall this concept of 'giving students choice' in my classroom was working well, although I had recently found some 'flaws', as not all students were making the right choices and I will have to step in with a more Teacher Directed approach for now. 
It is obvious that my students enjoy their learning, because they are able to make choices. They love coming to school (as I've been told by many parents), which to me is an important part of my teaching philosophy.  If my students don't love coming to school they will, in my opinion, not learn effectively.

Through my teaching career, I have however also experience the fact that what is believed to be best for students might not be what some observers want to see.  Well, in this case, I almost feel like saying: "Tough luck".  Fact is, I refuse to be a teacher who performs a 'window dressing' in front of any observer to let them see a polished product or a rehearsed lesson. I rather want them to embrace with me the 'highs and the lows' before the breakthrough.

I think teachers need to be given more freedom to take risks, embrace failure and, of course, try hard and ideally our students will try hard and will be enjoying learning too.
I quote the following from David Didau: The Learning Spy
"If we don't challenge students to meet our outrageously high expectations, they won't make mistakes. This results in a desultory lack of progress. Vygotsky told us that success should always be just beyond where we currently are so that we have to strive and reach for it.  This applies to teachers as much as our students.  The vast gap in the feedback given to teachers judged as 'good with outstanding features' is an appalling travesty. It is simply not acceptable to fob off these teachers with meaningless guff about gut feelings or the observation that student x was off task despite producing a fantastic outcome. If, as an observer, you cannot give kind, helpful and specific feedback on how to get to outstanding you really shouldn't be allowed to make judgments on others' teaching."

With this in mind, I 'm wondering how many people in leadership positions still trust their teachers to do what they know is best for their students.

I do hope that all teachers out there can continue to strive to enjoy their teaching and that they will be trusted to do what's best for students.

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