It may not be well know but alongside being a teacher I have also built a house as a self builder. I am lucky enough that my father-in-law is an architect and my husband and I were lucky enough to make it onto the property ladder this way.
The reason I allude to this is the fact that as part of this I got to choose where all the electrics were to go. One evening my husband and I sat down with the plans and colour coded all the different plugs, lights, areal and switches. This was then given to the electrician and then he put them in place. The outcome was that the lights, plugs and sockets worked.
That’s not to say we didn’t research the electrician. We looked at previous outcomes and spoke to previous customers and then he did the work. I don’t ever remember, as a non electrician, asking for a photo images of the wiring in place. Neither did I ask him to explain, in writing, where he had put things and why. He was a professional, he was experienced and had a good track record. I trusted his judgement as a trained tradesman and that was it.
So why is it so different in teaching?
On Friday I was walking round a classroom checking my pupils progress and I noticed a pupil had written God (in terms of Christianity) with a lower case ‘g’. She had done so in a pencil and so I sat with her, rubbed out the ‘g’ and asked if she knew why I had done it. She looked and said “Is it because it is a name?”. I said yes and we discussed further that this might change if it were a different religion and she put in a capital with her pencil. Hopefully she will recall this for next lesson, a good example of live marking. But there is no evidence.
So what if this was the case for all my books? What if there was no written marking, no green pen, no WWW/EBI? Would it matter to those who came in and looked?
I just am not sure anymore…
Sometimes I get the feeling that, from what I see on social media, it isn’t enough…but shouldn’t it be?
Just like the electrician above if the outcome is what is needed surely the only evidence you need is me. I can tell you about my pupils, I can tell you what I have done, how they’ve progressed in my subject. When you want to know about my class….just ask.
I can write it on a lesson plan, a seating plan, in marking but you know what’s quicker….ask me.
I get it…
It takes longer to go around asking everyone if they know their pupils, checking if they have made a difference…but it didn’t make me feel professional. It made me feel I was always having to prove myself. No one ever used to trust that I had all my wire in the right place…even if it was clear the light switched on.
I just wish we could put the trust back to teachers. If the outcomes are constantly good, if the pupils are happy and doing well…let it be. Can’t the evidence be me?
What could be done?
- Don’t expect to see lots of marking – expect to see lots of lines through the work or rubbing out.
- Talk to the staff after an observation before you write it up. Let them explain the lesson…you may have missed an important part. Make it a dialogue (my mum says this was the glory days of how it used to be).
- Let the teacher keep some things in their head as evidence. Isn’t it a waste of time to ask a teacher to write something out? Couldn’t that time be better spent? If they can’t prove it themselves then suggest writing it might be a good strategy for that individual (not a policy for all).
- Trust the outcomes and let the teacher be the evidence…they are the professional after all.
I am lucky…I work in a school that treats me as a professional…but do you?