Oh no I won’t. Certainly not if you’re a teacher, anyway. But I will try to pay you more and I will give you more feedback as to your effectiveness and I will enable you to learn from the greatest teachers I know and I’ll pay for you to enhance your learning by getting you involved in research or whatever. Oh yes I will.
In university education, you know you have really mastered your subject, your learning, your teaching when they make you a professor. If you’re good at it, you can get promotion into administration and become a dean, then a vice provost or whatever (although more and more non academics are being recruited into these roles), but you can earn pretty well as a professor who stays in their department, teaching and researching. There’s got to be some learning that the people who organise schools can take from this.
It makes no sense whatsoever that those who are called into teaching by a love of their subject or a desire to change the world through education that they can only feel a sense of achievement by attaining promotion. By that I mean promotion out of the classroom. Head of department? Teach a day less per week. Deputy head? Have a half timetable. The net effect of all of this is to dilute the talent engine of those who are teaching the nation’s children.
I realise I have written about this before, but like a comedian learning their trade (you’ve guessed: I AM watching The Marvelous Mrs Maisel on Netflix….and loving it), I need to hone my narrative and timing.
Yes we know that teaching is exhausting, but most teachers I know say that it gets easier as they become more experienced. They are more confident as to what works most effectively and they concentrate their time and resources accordingly, get less tired and enjoy the job more. Provided they have the right head, who lets them behave professionally and doesn’t pile ridiculously onerous and dubiously necessary data requirements on them, the more experienced teacher learns not to burn themselves out with unnecessary work. You can find plenty of examples of such people on Twitter. Have a look for @EnserMark for starters.
Teaching is all about changing the brains of individuals. That’s not an easy gig and cannot be mastered in a couple of years. Those who do it brilliantly have often been learning their art over decades. For the longer version of my argument have a look at http://www.johncattbookshop.com/mining-for-gold-stories-of-effective-teachers If you think the hardback is a tad pricey, the kindle version is half the price.
I dream of the day when we have figured out how we can have schools full of brilliant teachers, supported by very talented administrators (who aren’t teachers and never have been teachers, maybe) whose job it is to get all the obstacles out of the way so that the teachers can do their job brilliantly. And let’s figure out a way of paying teachers a lot more….probably by having a tough look at the budget and making deliberate decisions to weight our spending more towards teaching each year. Talented administrators do not need to be paid as much as you might think, and they are probably better than brilliant pedagogues who are trying their hand at a bit of HR or whatever.
Be bold. Make a decision now….