‘Teachers do face huge challenges, but we can tackle them. Here’s how…’

We need to spread a positive message about teaching – and this starts by taking matters into our own hands and tackling the issues head-on, writes one secondary teacher in Tes. 

Teachers can’t move at the moment for stories about excessive workload, lack of trust and teachers saying goodbye to the profession. I’ve written many of them myself, and the problems they express must not be ignored. In this piece, I write about how we can take the challenges and difficulties identified by practising teachers and move beyond them – not in an airy-fairy way, but by following some of the numerous examples of positive practice shared by my research participants.

For each challenge identified in my book  How to Survive in Teaching, there is a suggestion for a way forward. I examined these on three levels: at national level, at institutional level and at personal level. I’ll be exploring these three levels in my column over the next three weeks. So, to kick things off: the challenges we teachers face at national level. 

The first is the performativity agenda: being judged as a teacher according to data and outcomes

To tackle this, we need to: 

  • Remember that we’re not alone and that we’re part of something much bigger. It may be tempting to prepare a letter of resignation in case the results projected aren’t quite delivered, but no individual, no school, no academy chain can or should exist in isolation.
  • Keep in mind that whilst data is hugely valuable, it’s just one tool in the armoury and just one piece of the puzzle. I’ve never known a family choose a school based purely on its data. The stories from other parents, the history of the school and its reputation – all of these have far bigger importance than numbers themselves.

Teachers ‘do have it good’

The second challenge is the constant changes to assessment, curriculum and government priorities. 

To tackle this, we need to: 

  • Remember that with change comes opportunity. There’s always an opportunity for a literal and metaphorical clearing of cobwebs and a chance to refocus on what we need our students to be able to do.

  • Be bold with leadership. “Rage more,” as Geoff Barton says. Say “no”! Protect the school’s interests first.

  • Encourage positive portrayals of teachers in the media. All of us who write about teaching have a responsibility for this. Let’s publicise the triumphs as well as the frustrations.

Read more challenges in the full article ‘Teachers do face huge challenges, but we can tackle them. Here’s how…’

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

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