Secret Teacher: where do teachers draw the line in helping students achieve?

The countdown to GCSEs is a time of extra lessons and revision sessions. But how much additional help is too much? This week’s secret teacher is concerned whether the extra lessons are really helping in the long term. This is from the Guardian…

It is that time of year again. The countdown to GCSE exams.

The teacher’s workload, always a heavy one, increases tenfold. Practice exams to mark, paperwork to fill in for submitting controlled assessments, round after round of data to complete, predicted grades – “Are you sure he’ll only get a D?” – are just some of the joys to behold over the next few weeks. And then, the extra time put into the extra lessons and intervention.

I consider myself to be a good teacher. I mark regularly, I plan carefully and I think I know my students well. I’ve taught the spec, my students have sat, and resat, controlled assessments to ensure optimum levels of success. I have been holding extra lessons since November to targeted students who may ‘underperform.’

In my school extra lessons are compulsory. Compulsory for students and (unspoken) for staff too. And at this stage there are rumblings of the possibility of coming in during half term; and every now and then someone will throw the word ‘accountable’ around.

I don’t mind putting in the extra time, I may object to days out of my holiday, but really, I want the children to succeed; that is why I became a teacher. So I might give up a day out of my holidays (even though this worryingly no longer seems to be much of a ‘choice’ anymore) and I will, no matter how exhausted I am, or how much I may be repeating myself, put on a revision lesson every week.

Unfortunately, I cannot say I do this unquestioningly.

Because I do have a question. How much is all this really helping the student?

The concept of creating lifelong learners is one I really believe in. I hope the students I teach will continue to learn, and will want to learn throughout their lives. Sadly, I don’t think I’m giving them the skills to do so.

I am telling them what the examiner is looking for, I am showing them how to answer the question, I am recapping knowledge they must acquire, repeatedly, from now until June. At what point are my students responsible for their own learning?

More at:  Secret Teacher: where do teachers draw the line in helping students achieve?

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