The art of teaching generally takes place in isolation. The egg crate analogy is generally alive and well in most schools. Individual teachers work away in their own classroom with their own class of students. Day after day they do what they think is right, with the best intentions, within the confines of their own classroom. They continue to do what they have always done. They try to implement some of the initiatives they have learnt through professional development or through discussions with colleagues. Often they operate in isolation.
In most instances the classroom teacher works without feedback. Yet the quality of teaching is seen as a vital aspect of improved performance in schools.
High quality learning depends on high quality teaching. Aside from what students themselves bring to school, teachers and teaching account for the greatest level of variance of any other factor operating in a school. Hattie, 2003
However giving teacher’s feedback is not part of the culture in most schools. Changing that culture will inevitably lead to anxiety, barriers and resistance. The move to de-privatise classroom practise will be seen as threatening to even our best teachers and terrifying to our less confident teachers.
Providing teachers with feedback is a significant change in our culture that will bring with it anxiety and concern. However the potential and importance of establishing an effective process that helps our teachers be the best that they can be, can not be over stated.
Whilst the de-privatisation of classrooms will initially be stressful for all concerned, and few would welcome any more stresses in teaching, there are also tremendous potential benefits that will ultimately boost staff morale and teacher satisfaction.
Through implementing an effective process that is intended to support teachers to be the best teacher that they can be, we can also provide REAL, relevant and specific praise for the great work that so many of them do.
The challenge is to move the focus from being ‘catching them out’ to being ‘helping them be the best teacher they can be’.