in Education

10 things educators forget to do after teacher training.

proud of my profession

At the start of July I’ll be submitting my Ed.D. thesis. It’s an outgrowth of work I did towards an M.Ed. before transferring to my doctoral studies. That, in turn, was a continuation of the PGCE in Secondary History I completed at Durham University.

Such transition points leads one to reflect upon changes and continuities. Recently I’ve been prompted into thinking about underperforming teachers as a result of a findings in a widely reported survey. Instead of debating the ins-and-outs of whether employment law relating to teachers should be changed, I want to consider the things that cause complacency and rot to set in. I don’t think anyone sets out to be a poorly-performing teacher.

No, instead, it’s a slow process of decline. The ten points below are those I’ve witnessed colleagues struggle with, and a couple (especially number 6) is something I’ve found difficult to remember to do myself. If you’re not on top of your game it’s easy to do things to ‘just get by’. And that’s a difficult and dangerous situation in which to find yourself.

I’d be interested in your reflections on the following as 10 things educators tend to forget to do after their teacher training and NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher) year:

  1. Read academic journals.
  2. Greet students at the door.
  3. Write about their lessons – what went well/badly.
  4. Mess about with technology for the sake of it.
  5. Rearrange their classroom regularly.
  6. Phone parents/guardians for positive reasons.
  7. Active learning – role-play, etc.
  8. Observe good practice elsewhere.
  9. Maintain a professional development folder.
  10. Ask for help and mentoring

What have I missed? With which of these do you agree/disagree?

Image CC BY-NC-SA snacktime2007

  • ColinTGraham

    I’d actually say 0 (well before 1) is remember to make time for yourself. Yes, we have family and friends, and so on, but it’s easy to forget that many of the things in your list require time to be set aside, without any feeling of guilt, desperation or obligation being imposed. I remind myself of the biblical quotation: “First remove the log from your own eye…” I don’t think you can be of help to anyone if you are not able to help yourself too…

    Colin

  • Woff70

    You are spot on with the points but it is often about lack of time rather than forgetting. I would like to spend much more time on point six and will attempt to set aside some more time for it.

  • Jenn102gb

    Observing other teachers is one of the best practices that is so rarely done…but who DOESN’T greet their students at the door? That’s a must!

  • dajbelshaw

    @Jenn102gb Absoutely! It’s easy to let slip though…

  • dajbelshaw

    @Woff70 There’s no such thing as a ‘lack of time’! There’s only prioritising one or more things above others. ;-)

  • dajbelshaw

    @ColinTGraham Indeed – and I’d put *sleep* at 0. Without enough rest nothing else follows!

  • davestacey

    The only thing I might adapt is No 1 – I often found academic journals frustrating (we’ve done some research – our conclusion? We need to do more research), but subject based journals (such as Teaching History) have been a great source of practical advice and inspiration.

    If number 6 is tricky in your school, then I suggest the addition of some postcards to do a similar job can go down very well.

    Actually, looking at that list again, it’s surprising how many of those things for me have got subsumed into blogging / twitter.

  • http://mrstacey.org.uk/ davestacey

    Ooo… I thought of one more.

    11. Get feedback on your lessons from your students. Ask them what went well and how it could be better.

  • William Lau

     When you re-arrange your classroom and your students complain. How do you explain the change in arrangement. I have quite a unique learning environment, which freaked some of the students out, but really engaged/distracted others. I fear changing it would take them back to square one, asking why I’ve changed so much. Here’s my classroom: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nuMMWVY_Rl4

    I haven’t been on your site for a while, since it closed a year or two ago. But now I’m back I’ve been on it for hours. Lot’s of gems on here.

    I don’t do: 1,3,5,6,7. And 9 is literally a pile of certificates and papers, until I go through Threshold…

    Still I love this blog and my job.

  • http://twitter.com/kimorganix Kim O’Brien

    Great post! A list that really got me thinking… 

    It’s so easy once you become a qualified teacher for most of the things you do to be about survival. I’m in my 5th year of primary teaching, having retrained in my late 30s and came in thinking I would set the world of education alight (I don’t suppose I’m the only one!). Now my strategies are largely about cutting corners just to be able to keep my head above water. I don’t consider myself a good teacher, but continually aspire to becoming one. I was quite heartened to note that I do still do more than half of the things on your list, though only just. The one thing I tried this year, which has brought about a quantum leap in the quality of my lessons, is number 10. I found it really hard to invite someone into my class on a regular basis to observe my teaching and help me to make it better, but I had spent the previous 4 years trying to work it out by myself and still kept coming back round to that delightful term “satisfactory”, so I braced myself and took the plunge. I am very grateful for the fact that I had the perfect person on our SMT, who was willing and very able to help me. I think schools need to embrace the concept of mentoring to enable their teachers to reach their potential.

    A mentor coming to observe and give constructive feedback is one way to bring about a quantum leap such as the one I am experiencing. Couple that with observing good practice elsewhere and I think you’re on to a winner, but schools need to make the time available to teachers for that to happen, because I for one don’t see myself giving up my PPA time to observe someone teaching a good lesson, when I already work 70 hours a week with no apparent hope of that diminishing in the near future and no one near the top showing any signs of caring about that, as along as I keep producing the mountain of paperwork they feed off. Another aspect of point 10, which nicely links arms with 1, 4 and even 8 in a way, is finding a PLN on Twitter, which has been a revelation to me. All those fabulous “mentors” out there, happy to share their findings with whoever takes the time to follow them. Another quantum leap in the making…So, thank you Doug, for this post and all your valuable tweets! I am one of your quiet followers, who devours the gems shared by you and several others on a daily basis. It’s nice to have the opportunity to say thank you by commenting on your post!

    Now, off to see what I can do about the points on your list I’m not so good at!

    All the best, Kim

    • http://dougbelshaw.com Doug Belshaw

      Thanks Kim, I really appreciate the time you took to reply and am also
      glad that I’ve stimulated your thinking! It’s not about ‘being good’
      at things, it’s about trying your best and having a growth mindset.
      Have you read Carol Dweck’s ‘Mindsets’ book? :-)

      • http://twitter.com/kimorganix Kim O’Brien

        Hi Doug! I have tried to read Dweck’s book, but didn’t get through it. Perhaps I will give it another go in the summer hols… It’s hard when you work in a “struggling” school like mine (in Ofsted terms anyway) to remember that it’s not about being good at things. We are under constant pressure, but it’s great to be connected to all the great teachers on Twitter to remind yourself of such things! Thanks for the words of encouragement and keep the gems coming! :-)