The Secret Teacher on double standards and hypocrisy in schools

The latest Secret Teacher instalment in the Guardian, this time from a teacher in an academy in the South East of England, ponders hypocrisy and double standards in school, especially in terms of how the approaches suggested for developing pupils seldom seem to be applied to developing staff…

We are currently engaged in a series of CPD sessions aimed at improving teaching and learning in our school. As I was sitting in last week’s session I was struck by the inherent hypocrisy that is rife in our organisation.

The session was about positive behaviour management and there was nothing that had not been heard before if I’m completely honest, but I’m always willing to listen and to remind myself of former lessons learned. There was nothing I could disagree with in principle, turning negatives into positives, catching students doing something good and using more inventive ways of gaining attention than shouting.

Essentially, there was nothing I could argue with and it did make me see a certain class in an alternative light, recognising that I needed to approach them in a slightly different way in order to challenge their own challenging behaviour.

It was when the direction of the training turned to modelling good behaviour that the alarm bells of insincerity started to chime. “No one, no matter what they say, doesn’t like being praised,” the course leader espoused. “If you’re constantly telling a pupil they are doing this or that wrong then they are not going to respond very well and it will have a negative impact on their self esteem and confidence.” I was in complete agreement but was also struck very rapidly that she could have been talking about the approach of the SLT in our school and couldn’t help but smile at the irony of the situation.

Ask any middle leader whether they have felt bullied or belittled in my current establishment, and if they are talking off-the-record, they will respond with a resounding yes. Ask how many times they have been told they’re doing this or that wrong and they will probably have lost count. So how does this add up?

Why is it acceptable to have an unwritten and unspoken policy of bullying at senior leadership levels? Why is it acceptable to constantly tell people they are not doing a good job when they are doing their very best to do just that? And why doesn’t anyone do anything to stop it?

Every school has an anti-bullying policy and some of the very people who are responsible for creating these policies can’t see that their behaviours are akin to the behaviours they are trying to eradicate in their pupils. This can only be seen as complete double standards in a workplace that seeks to teach against such conduct and shape the young minds of the future…

More at: The Secret Teacher: double standards are rife in school

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