Tag Archives: myflippingclassroom

Go The Extra Mile

The extra mileSo Mr Wilshaw’s at it again, having established that he thinks that a head is only doing something right if morale amongst the staff is low, he has now set about reinforcing that principal amongst the teachers of the nation, so that he can be sure he is doing something right. Teachers, he says, if they want more money, must “go the extra mile”.

Actually, it’s an interesting metaphor “go the extra mile”, I did a little research, turns out that it comes from the Sermon on the Mount , it was spoken by Jesus, no it’s okay I am not going to compare Mr Wilshaw to Jesus, but the context has some relevance. In the days of Roman occupied Palestine any Roman soldierCarry my bags could force any citizen to carry his equipment for one mile. The essence of what Jesus said on that day, was that if that happens to you, then go another mile with him, own the moment, don’t be a slave, take away his power to force you to do it by offering the service voluntarily, take the moral high ground. Now I’m not entirely sure that that is quite what Mr Wilshaw meant.

Hold that thought.

To be fair the vernacular use of that phrase in the new millennium has come to mean doing extra work, putting in more effort and not necessarily expecting (but maybe hoping) for anything back for that effort. To be honest (to use another vernacular phrase) I have always been a little bemused by this idea of free work. I have only been in teaching just over ten years, before that, like most of the rest of my family, I did not have proper job, I was freelance. When you’re a freelance you assess the job, you assess the time, you sign the contract and you complete the job in the hours assigned or you charge more. Of course, it’s a nightmare of judging the value of the client to you, if they ask for more than agreed. Your tender may come in more expensive because you want to do a good job, than someone else’s and so you lose the job, you have to judge all the time what the job is worth, and if the client comes back to you and asks for more, they should be aware that they’re trying it on. The principle is clear, agree the price, do the work for that price. Anyone who has ever had building work done, a boiler put in or windows done, knows the price of the job and what it covers, nothing more.

When I was first employed I was given the contract, which outlined my designated hours and was immediately told that that didn’t matter because everybody worked at least 10 hours over the contracted hours anyway. SAY WHAT? How does that work then? Is the contract not worth the paper it’s printed on then? Why would I work more than I am contracted to for no more money?

Taking the moral high ground.

It seems to me that Mr Wilshaw is very much in the role of the Roman soldier, he is asking teachers to work more for nothing. He is suggesting that they may get more money, but then that really does allow him the power over the extra mile, which is, in principle a voluntary act, nothing should rest on it, not pay, not expectation, like a lawyer who does pro bono work. A teacher should not be paid according to their volunteering services and, more to the point, other teachers should not be judged if they do not “volunteer” – who knows why people don’t do unpaid work, aside from it not being a contractual obligation, health problems, sick partners, elderly relatives or volunteering for a charity might be the reason why a teacher is out the gate at 3 o’clock.

Out the gate at 3 O’clock but still working

Of course you could be out the gate at 3 o’clock with a pile of marking, a good bit of lesson preparation Homeworkto do, and the facilities to do it at home, that are more efficient, more up to date, better heated and isolated from the constant demands that distract you from completing that wonderful Scheme of Work, or uploading some good resources to the VLE.

In the flipped classroom where you work will become increasingly irrelevant, that will be true for both student and teacher, particularly at the post-16 level which I inhabitant. Perhaps the main problem with the flipped classroom, is that you can never get away from it, parent email, uploading resources, colleagues asking for one more thing by email.

As for me I work in FE, teaching A Levels, my teaching hours are 9 – 4, I am never out of the gate at 3 and I earn thousands less than equivalent colleagues in secondary school, my mile is well and truly trodden.

This post can also be found www.myflippingclassroom.com

Flipping Teachers!

No matter who I talk to in the teaching profession, and, to be honest quite a few other professions, mainly, but not uniquely public sector, the mantra is the same. The life of the professional teacher, is blighted by the obligation to fulfill the requirements of the various services initially provided to support the teacher in the classroom. Teachers they are increasingly hampered by the incessant demands of those who surround them, and that’s everyone from, government, to management, to other staff and parents.

The Unions meet this week and there is talk of public sector action, the word  “respect” is being bandied about.  Christine Blower has stated “Teachers are being undermined by a government whose almost daily criticisms and erosion of working conditions and pay, coming on top of previous attacks on pensions, are unacceptable. This negative approach to the profession has to stop.”….Teachers are embattled, absolutely everything they have done since I joined secondary education (and I mean as a pupil) has been wrong and in all that time education has been a political football, comprehensive education, standards, GCSEs, Curriculum 2000 and the recent shark fest of tuition fees, grade inflation, Ofsted, OfQual, international students and the almost personal attacks on teachers’ pay and pensions.

At the same time staff must engage with new technology, with almost no training and limited contemporary kit, they must collect data, meet targets and, as ever, institute the latest educational theory forced through, not by educationalists, but by politicians. Often all this is against their better judgement, and done with no consultation with them at all, from phonics to selection, teachers must switch emphasis from year to year, as if their knowledge do the classroom is totally irrelevant. Imagine telling the F1 Grand Prix Drivers’ World Champion that you have decided that his car is no longer good enough, so you would like him to drive a 1950s model, because obviously, cars were better in the Fifties!

Like all analogies you can pick holes in it and this is not intended to offer disrespect to the support teams who struggle to keep pace with the demands placed on them by managements and a government that doesn’t really understand the complexity of the tasks they impose. However, increasingly many rely too heavily on advice that focuses on the needs of the task and not the needs of the classroom.

In the end the teacher or lecturer must deliver the lesson, it is they who are made vulnerable to system failure, to having to change a lesson half way through because the system has failed. It is the teacher who must work round the constraints of an over zealous firewall, and find different ways to deliver the same content. It is the teacher, who once used to keep a simple paper register and must now, collate electronic registers, enter them, often doubly, and track student progress through increasingly complex mechanisms that are not compatible with each other. They must generate an increasing number of performance reports, taking on tasks that should be defined as admin, when teaching is the activity that delivers the result, brings in the students and perpetuates the jobs. They do all this in the hope that one day all this will ease their burden not increase it.

And on that note might I point you to my new blog, which will separate some of the education rantings from the media and reviewing elements of this blog.  www.MYFLIPPINGCLASSROOM.com is an extension of the post I wrote a while back: Flipping Heck introduced to this blog to yet another set of demands on the teacher in the classroom and that has inspired my effort to expand into a dedicated blog for dedicated teachers!