— UKEdChat (@ukedchat) 15 December 2017
Should all people delivering and assessing teacher training be made to teach curriculum or is this curriculum enough? Should these individuals be held to different standards to ensure new teachers are all given the best opportunities and meet the needs of the modern classroom?
These are questions that I have been considering for around 2 years, since taking over the leadership of our teacher training provision as well as becoming responsible for quality assurance and teaching development within the institution. Like many of us, I wrestled with the thought of leaving the classroom to pursue a career in management for a variety of reasons but I always thought could I, in good conscience, talk to and advise teaching staff about their practice if I myself was not practising? It’s a question that has again come to the forefront of my mind this term having taught some functional skills(FS) maths sessions to students at the very start of their FE journey – it was tough, although incredibly rewarding and enjoyable.
Since moving into a management role I’ve been able to teach a curriculum that interested me, a reduced teaching load has meant my skills and expertise have been deployed where the curriculum team needed me most but in some respects, this has been easy. Clearly, this is not to say that since moving into management I’ve not been busy, quite the opposite, it’s not a competition but I genuinely believe that I’ve worked harder the last 5 years than ever before…or maybe with age, it’s just starting to feel like that now. I talked to a friend a few weeks ago and we started teaching at the same time and he showed me an Instagram post about how well you recover from hangovers in your twenties compared to your thirties and we likened this to teaching a full week in the same age brackets!
The fact remains that teaching the FS Maths students this term was challenging and called for all the fundamentals of great teaching to motivate and engage the group, this was in some ways different for me because having taught creative subjects for over 10 years I didn’t really have to work to enthuse people about the subject – they genuinely all wanted to be there. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the session for this group was that they all recognised the need for maths, they could answer the questions about why maths is important, where would they use it, but this still didn’t really make them want to study the subject. These are the sorts of challenges facing new teachers today – are all staff delivering teacher training aware of these?
In conclusion, I believe that there should be an expectation for teachers delivering teacher training to also deliver some subject-specific teaching with other students but also clearer guidelines within teaching qualifications as to the preparation and skills required to thrive in the current educational climate. Expectations around the use of technology, developing resilience, managing workloads and work-life balance are all key to ensuring the next generation of teachers are ready to enter the classroom and that they remain there.