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So, what do you think of this place then?

Beth is a Secondary teacher working in schools in Leicester through Protocol Education. 

Something I’ve been asked, from my privileged position as outsider, in every school I’ve supplied in is “What do you think of the place?” It’s not a simple question. A gushy “it’s wonderful” may irritate if the person you’re speaking to is struggling on a daily basis, while presumably no-one wants to hear that their place of work is your idea of Dante’s tenth circle.

It is, of course, basic supplying etiquette that you don’t criticise the pupils directly, but it also seems a bad idea to launch into a critique of school systems, however much you may want to comment on the behaviour policy that students seem never to have heard of.

One of the joys of supply is definitely getting to peek into different institutions. It’s interesting to see not only how they’re different but also how certain similarities always seem to be there. I’m also eternally fascinated by what people think is unique, interesting and/or annoying about their school – it’s often not something I’ve noticed coming in fresh. For example, on a recent assignment,  I was somewhat flummoxed by a staggered timetable that has lessons lasting 50 minutes, then a break, then 25 minutes back with the same class – and of course staff are so used to it, they don’t even notice.

I think that recently, however, this fairly natural curiosity about what it’s like “out there” (along with a desire to make small talk with a relative stranger, of course) has picked up something of a darker tone to it. I’ve been asked several times by teachers and TAs - in different places and at different levels - questions which essentially boil down to “Aren’t we monitored more than anyone else?” And the answer is always (and truthfully) “No. It’s the same everywhere.”

It seems a shame that the shift in culture which has led to far greater tracking of pupils (and of teachers) and an increased pressure to perform is often interpreted as “this place”, when in reality it’s anything but. It’s so easy to become relatively isolated in a particular institution. Teachers are busy people and although there is a thriving network of teachers on the internet, not everyone has managed to plug themselves into this. Until more do, I fear that many teachers are going to be wandering around feeling picked on or pressurised by their management.


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Tags: ProtoBlog, Beth, Secondary Teacher, Teach in Leicester, Behaviour, Protocol Education

Category: Australian Teachers

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