Teachers must listen, engage and act on the advice they are given in order to develop, says Ross Morrison McGill, an assistant headteacher and former Guardian teacher of the year. Here are some extracts from the Guardian…
When a teacher who has been judged to “require improvement” asks for advice I always caveat it by saying that I can only offer the benefit of my own experience and a listening ear. But regardless of criteria, I do still remain vexed at the thought of consistently below-par teaching. Teachers who are judged in this bracket need to make a choice. They need to listen, engage and then act on the advice and develop. Or alternatively, they need to move schools or quit. It’s an unsympathetic statement to make, but it is a reality….
So what do you do if you have been judged to be “requiring improvement?” Primarily, do not hide. The issue will not go away. As a profession we need to move from dependence on others to a greater interdependence. This includes you and I as practitioners. As the headteacher of St Mary’s Catholic College in Blackpool Stephen Tierney (@Head_stmarys) said in a recent tweet: “Take the next step … Better never stops no matter where you are on the journey. Keep going and take people with you.”
Some other tips include:
• Utilise the support around you and do something about it. Do not expect everyone to put the cogs in motion for you every step of the way. You are the professional. However, I do appreciate that support offered in schools will vary widely, especially from the senior leadership team. But in every school, there should be a cohort of good to outstanding teaching staff who are more than happy to help.
• Consider speaking with a clandestine group of teaching staff; these are the kind of staff who would jump at the opportunity to coach a colleague, yet have never been given the chance.
• As corny as it sounds, seize the day. Find your own coach. In or out of school hours. Whatever it takes, begin.
• Source your own professional development. There is an abundance of collegiality online, in various networks such as the GTN, Twitter and other forums.
I appreciate that this is not an easy challenge. School priorities; the leadership team, the students and life events can all make or break a good bout of enthusiasm in any teacher. Bereavement and a recent redundancy period created a blip year for me. This is entirely normal and acceptable, but not taking control of your own practice is unthinkable.
Please share your best tips for helping teachers who require improvement via the comments or Twitter. If you have been in this position yourself, what was key in helping you turn things around?