‘School leaders don’t have the skill or the budget to effectively performance manage teachers’

Manage your own performance, because in schools, that’s all anyone can realistically do. Here’s how. Joe Nutt is an educational consultant and author reporting for The Tes.

Experienced teachers know from the moment the classroom door opens in September and those unfamiliar faces troop in, until the clock ticks down the final few seconds of that last A level, everything they prepare and organise is entirely provisional.

As a young teacher I once planned an entire term’s lessons in advance. Every single lesson, in detail. It took me about a week of my summer vacation. Things went to plan for about a fortnight or so and then the varying needs of the children, their differences in ability, motivation and peer dynamics intervened. I had to abandon it and go back to the practice I’d been happily working to previously: planning one week’s worth of teaching in advance. At least I learned an invaluable lesson about performance management.

I think professionals who don’t work in schools, especially busy ones, those who rely on their PA and for whom email is just a nuisance, genuinely struggle with understanding the type of time constraints teachers work to every day.

Successful businesses are wisely also in the business of motivating their employees. They have enviable freedom of action when it comes to deciding what will drive higher sales figures, or better productivity. Some are quite imaginative about this. Most dangle more money in front of people, which is the most conventional strategy because it seems to work. 

However imaginative they might try to be, school leaders don’t have the skills or the budgets to do anything even remotely similar. So pretending to act like businesses in terms of performance management, especially by people who have no credible commercial experience, is the worst of both worlds.

So on the cusp of a new academic year, when most classroom teachers are pleasantly tanned, relaxed and have just about got accustomed to the idea that they are at last on holiday, my advice to all of you who care about your performance next year is…manage it yourself. Easy to say, but what does it involve? 

·         Assume everyone you teach is capable of much more than you’ve been told they are. 

·         Teach them, first and foremost, because what happens in your classroom is what matters. Absolutely everything else is mere scaffolding. 

Read more ways to ‘manage it yourself’ ‘School leaders don’t have the skill or the budget to effectively performance manage teachers’

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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