Thursday, 27 December 2012

In school teachmeets

Is it sad that we have to have the idea of in-school teachmeets either subject specific or whole school?

Why weren't schools already encouraging and allowing all members of staff to share good practice? Do we need to have a teachmeet or could we have just used meetings or even gatherings?

Can the sharing of good practice and ideas occur by another means than someone standing in front of a presentation and recycling an idea? I would hope so.

In the first school I worked in we discussed classes, ideas, strategies. There was no competition between staff for favour of the management so we were happy to share and support each other. More than that we had a layer of middle management who wanted to improve the experience for the students and also support other staff: They didn't want to get an assistant associate vice championship league division 2 head teacher position. The ideas didn't need a acronym and they didn't need to be celebrated during morning briefing, there was no mention of "boosting your CV".

In the third school I worked in it was all about point scoring. Young staff who saw possible positions on the management team, usually via a head of year position. There were no organic sharing of ideas only attempts to get the management to favour you. Discussions were not about pedagogy, they were about organisational matters. Re-writing schemes were about filling in boxes in order to look "innovative", not about ensuring best practice were embedded first. More over there was no learning for peers because everyone had to appear as the expert, no one was allowed to be humble as that was a weakness.

Maybe the schools that intend to do in-school teachmeet need something to kick start the sharing of practice. But I worry. The only time I was happy to "show off" at an in school teachmeet situation was when the management appointed someone over me and I was happy to use the opportunity to show that I was by far the better candidate(!), and I had the opportunity because no one else wanted to volunteer. I spoke every other week at the departmental teachmeet. Not the best motivation for sharing practice!

So what is the answer? A culture where teachers are allowed to seek support from each other and are happy to share their ideas. Not immediately easy, but a few key characters who naturally talk about their lessons help to spread this culture.

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