I had a very interesting and rewarding visit to Ross High School this afternoon where I visited a 1st year English class, a 5th Year Higher German class and a 5th year Intermediate 1 and 2 woodworking class.
I had a chat with one teacher about how she felt about my visit and she admitted to being disconcerted by my appearance in class – she knew I was in school and that I might pop into her lesson and the focus of my visit, nevertheless I can only imagine what it must be like to have the Head of Education come into class to observe me teach.
In one of my Harvard reflections I wrote about the need to separate practice from the person.
If I was a golf coach and I watched a golfer swing his club and then made a comment about her/his technique and how it might be improved they would not take that as a slur upon their character or very being. It’s this area that I’d like to explore over the coming year by focussing upon an aspect of practice without it impinging upon any question about a person’s competence.
In a sense – and I hope people understand what I mean by this – I’m not interested in the “person” – I’m interested in their practice and how we can collectively improve that practice through analysis, dialogue and reflection. It’s only by improving practice that we will improve childrens educational experiences and acheivements. That said, I do intend to adopt a sensitive and appreciative approach towards my fellow professionals in all my visits.
People will only come to trust me in their classrooms if I maintain this technical focus – and that trust will only happen over time.
Is it possible that any anxiety caused by difficulty in “separating the person from the practice” is more likely to exist in the case of seasoned teachers than, say, NQTs? The impression that technique might be found wanting after many years’ experience might feel like one’s judgement is being called into question – and judgement feels more personal than technical.
Perhaps my unfamiliarity with golf leads me to this comment, but I don’t think your analogy is apt. I don’t see golfers putting a bit of themselves into what they do, whereas I think that this is exactly what the best teachers do. Teachers who are technically proficient may come out tops in inspections, but they may not be the best teachers. Just my thought.
Dorothy – I don’t think technically proficient teachers come out best in inspections. I think the best teachers come our best in inspections.
Hmm. Our experience may lead us to different opinions on that one, Don. I observe a difference between teachers, to this business of personal involvement in what’s going on in the L&T process. I’ll have to think more about what I really mean by that. But PLPs and planning unfortunately call now….