An interesting article related to some new research highlighting very strong opinions held by teachers there that the more they collaborate, the better will be the quality of the education received by students.
Metlife Survey of American Teachers
The report highlights that traditionally, time for collaboration is more in primary than secondary education. It comes from America, where typically secondary school teachers have around 22 contact hours per week. This should be lessof an issue here in India, where the teachers in most of the better schools are not handling more than about 16 contact hours per week.
However, it begs some interesting questions;
a) Will teacher collaboration only happen if school management creates organised structures, regimes and processes?
b) To what extent should individual educators be able to argue for independence and autonomy in what happens in their classroom against an institutes desire to have teachers collaborate?
c) To what extent should teachers’ lessons be observed by others?
On this latter point, within TSRS we are increasingly coming to view that there are two different types of scenario where lessons may benefit from being observed. The first kind of observation is one done by a line manager, with a formalised, open and transparent reporting/ feedback process. These are about ensuring that the lessons in the school and the methodologies being adopted are congruent with school mission, values and policies – are we all singingin harmony?
The second type of lesson observation we want to encourage is the type where a peer-colleague as ‘friend’ sits in on lessons and then shares a two way exchange of ideas afterwards which is part of “us becoming the best we can be”. It is considered important that for complete trust these types of observations do not entail any formalised reporting to management.
However, this comes up against a hard reality – there is something in the nature of schools as environments that all too frequently makes teachers very cautious in sharing open, honest feedback about performance. In fact, that goes further – even Principals and line managers shirk away from drawing attention to weak performance out of (misguided) collegiate loyalty. Here’s an example of what I’m referring to;
Denver Post Article
So, here we have a survey where, confidentially, a whole mass of teachers are acknowledging they have colleagues who are doing a sub-standard job, and yet 99% of all teachers get ‘satisfactory’ or better ratings through a performance management system.
Of course, teachers don’t find a problem by and large with sharing frank, open feedback with the children in their classrooms, or their parents. So, why should it be so hard to apply the same standards to each other. Most teachers say they are frank with students because they want them to fulfil their potential – so can’t we do that for our peers too?
The final point that jumped out to me from the Metlife Survey was that only 42% of teachers reckoned that all or most of their students took their responsibility for education seriously, whilst 96% of students reckoned they did. Plainly a big mismatch in expectations and belief about what constitutes taking responsibility. Also, students have long felt the need to ‘pretend’ they don’t really care about academics. However, all too often the ‘devil may care’ image doesn’t match the real, behind the scenes effort they’re putting in – sometimes we need to trust them and recognise ‘the game’.
Filed under: Assessment, Educators of tomorrow, Life, Our Environment, School, Teaching Practice | Tagged: classroom observation, performance management in schools, teacher collaboration, teamwork | Leave a comment »