Teaching Today is Tough

In light of the story that appeared in the media this week relating to a student being placed in a ‘cage’ to manage their behaviour this is an interesting post.

What happens to marginalised kids on the spectrum?.

More and more is expected from teachers when confronted with students who provide specific challenges. Last week at my school I walked past a room where a number of ‘official’ looking people were standing around a table going through numerous documents. When I asked a colleague what was happening in there they mentioned something about individual learning profiles for the students looked after by our Learning Support team.

As I walked off I wondered how much time the support staff (consisting of two people) were given outside their normal timetable load to plan and construct these individual learning plans for at least twenty supported students across the school.

While I fully support the idea of these individual learning plans it is just another example of the complexity of the modern school and the increasing demands on a teacher’s time outside normal school hours.

Schools not that long ago had a clear idea of what they were doing and where they were going. Most of us knew what was required and could go about the business of teaching confident that what we were doing was preparing the students for life beyond the classroom.

How things have changed in the last ten years!

Schools are no longer the stable institutions they once were. Change has come so quickly that the traditional structures that once underpinned the fabric of schools are being eroded.

Students are no longer prepared to accept a curriculum that seems irrelevant. Teachers are struggling to engage students as they ‘surf the net’ looking for something to pass the time until they move to their next class. Youtube and gaming help ease the boredom of classes.

The traditional relationship between teachers and students is disappearing. The teacher as an ‘authority figure who has all the knowledge’ is still there but the ‘teacher as a facilitator’ is the popular term most use now. Many teachers are struggling with this concept. For most teaching is about control and giving up even a little of that control can be very difficult.

The vision or direction a school was heading in was fairly clear in days gone by. Maintain high standards in student behaviour, uniform, academic results etc., were easy to monitor and easy to enforce. Teachers had a curriculum to follow, students worked from texts, books were written in, homework was done and tests marked. Very simple and easy for all to follow. I am sure there are many school leaders who long for a return to those days!

To be a leader in today’s schools requires so many different skills and areas of expertise that it is near impossible for one person to be able to do the job effectively. It requires a group of experts in different fields who can work effectively as a team to drive the school in one direction.

If you look at the most effective schools you will find a cohesive leadership team blessed with people who are highly skilled in one or more areas that relate to school life. They work well together and inspire and nurture all members of the school community. They filter out the rubbish and focus on what they know to be relevant for their people.

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