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Goughsted Criteria

Secondary teacher Giles who works for Protocol Education in Manchester shares his criteria of what makes up a good day of supply!


As a society we’ve become obsessed with measuring stuff. Opinions polls, questionnaires, statistics, it’s everywhere. You stick a video up on Youtube and it’ll tell you how many views it’s had. You post something on Facebook and you can count up how many ‘likes’ it gets. Somebody also came up with the crazy idea that you measure the value and quality of an education. So along with qualifications, we've got a load of extra ways to measure how successful we were, league tables, CVA and of course the Dark Lords of Ofsted.

All of which makes very little difference to a supply teacher. Supply teachers have the best view of education, because nobody is trying to impress us. We see things as they actually are, and that makes us unique. You’ll only be there for a short time; maybe a week, maybe a day.  Realistically speaking, the number of students attaining A* to C will have very little impact on your day. During my time teaching across the schools of the Northwest I have started collating a list of little things that can make a huge difference to a teacher fresh through the door. A scale of things I’ve come to call ‘Goughsted Criteria’ (see what I did there?).  Here’s a few from the list.

1. At least two students hold open a door for you.

If one student holds open a door for you, that’s great, but not particularly interesting. If two do it, that’s significant. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not looking for every child to hold open every single door for me, but if it seems to be a regular thing, that says a lot. Every school has it’s golden pupils and it’s scary ones. But it’s the ones in the middle that make all the difference. This gives an indication of what the “norms” in the school are. If the children consider it “normal” to do something out of politeness, without fear of being mocked by their peers, then you’re clearly in a place where respect is given freely. If it’s normal for kids to talk over you, kick off and walk out then…well you get the idea.

2. Someone makes you tea.

Schools are hierarchical by design. It’s set up that way and the kids pick up on it. I don’t have a problem with that per se, but I’d like to think that it could be partially suspended behind the closed doors of the staff room. The truth is that’s rarely the case, people sit in cliques, have their own mugs and I swear, there’s one staff room I’ve been in where one teacher brought in her own chair. With that in mind, when another member of staff offers to make you a drink it has a huge impact. It’s a way of being servant hearted, showing that you’re valuable to them. I’m not kidding, the time and effort it takes to make a brew could be the difference between having a temporary member of staff who wants to do their best for you and one who is counting the hours until that last bell goes.

3. Learn your first name. 

Sometimes this job has a hint of absurdity. When someone thirty years your senior who’s been a teacher since you were a foetus calls you “sir” when there’s no students around, it’s a little odd. Now I’m rubbish at learning names, I freely admit. It usually takes me three meetings with someone to remember their name and that’s usually to avoid the sheer embarrassment of the second time I met them. I understand that you’ve only just met me a few hours ago, and that your mind is swamped, but if you just ask me my name we could really be onto something. People will perform best when receiving some kind of recognition, and worst when they’re being ignored. The name thing is an extension of that. By calling you by your first name, it’s a small recognition that you’re a person, with an identity beyond your classroom, rather than just an empty suit.

As you’re reading this you may be thinking of all the things that make a good impression for you. I’m pretty sure we could come up with an exhaustive list; but I’ve picked these things because people don’t often do them purposefully. It is just part of how they interact with others. I feel that it is a more genuine judge of character. When I meet other supply teachers in the staffroom and we compare schools it’s these little things that make a good impression on people, and you know what they say about first impressions…

Tags: Giles, Ofsted, Supply Teacher, Teach in Manchester, Secondary, Protocol Education

Category: Australian Teachers

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