Be Better

I want our schools to be better.

I believe that the biggest improvement we can make to our schools is to be fussier about who we allow to teach in them.

I look forward to the day where the teaching profession is non-unionised, and underperforming teachers who have lost the passion and spark that our students so deserve are able to be relieved of their duty.

I hope we find ways to identify those teachers who cannot teach, or have lost interest in doing it well, or who see what they do as a paycheck rather than a calling, and find ways to respectfully but firmly move them on, as they have no place in today’s classrooms.

I want to be a part of a teaching profession where you need to reinvent yourself every year, where having interests and skills outside “the system” make you better at what you do, and where we don’t confuse “20 years of experience” with “1 year of experience, repeated 20 times”.

I want an educational system where students experience the joy of learning from teachers who are still themselves joyful about learning.

I want my own children to be taught by passionate, caring teachers who lose sleep at night wondering how to be better at what they do. And I want to be one of those teachers for other people’s children.

I think we owe these things to the next generation.

CC BY 4.0 Be Better by Chris Betcher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

34 Replies to “Be Better”

  1. I’ve long said the biggest improvement we could make to society is to be fussier about who we allow to reproduce. Generally unpopular and impossible to legislate, but the sentiment is similar to yours above. I agree that a unionised, quasi-tenured system is broken – especially when it doesn’t protect some of our most enthusiastic teachers, who do year after year of short term contracts with no guarantee of renewal in the most challenging of situations.

    I don’t have much else useful to add given it’s after 10pm but felt compelled to comment when it popped up in my feed reader :).

  2. Chris
    One of the most straight forward and refreshing blog post I think I have ever read from you. Now to tame the unicorn and make it a reality! We can do it! but… It won’t be easy!

    Ben 🙂

  3. I really enjoyed the refreshing honesty and optimism displayed in this post. I have a friend (senior executive) who had the courage to stand up in front of 65 staff and explicitly state ‘In my 20 weeks at this school I have witnessed highly experienced teacher s performing their duties, unfortunately, I have witnessed too few expert teachers’. I believe this was a bold approach and interestingly it was the enthusiastic teachers you are looking for who loved this moment! – Again I love this post!

  4. Thanks Sarah and Ben for the feedback.

    Neil, after I graduated from teacher’s college and taught for a couple of years, I left teaching. To be perfectly honest, I hated it. I hated it because I didn’t feel I was any good at it, I didn’t feel like I was doing justice to the kids I worked with each day, and I felt like I was surrounded by jaded, cynical people who had lost the passion for what they did. Not everyone was like that, to be sure, but enough were and it depressed me and made me hate what I did. I left, to look for other things to do.

    I worked in aftermarket 4WD accessory sales, I did door-to-door market research, I raced rally cars, I taught swimming to little kids, and I drove a taxi. I went back to uni and started an engineering degree (which I never finished but I didn’t care, that wasn’t the point) In hindsight, leaving teaching was the second best decision I ever made.

    When I was about 30, for a number of reasons, I decided I’d give teaching another go. It was totally different this time around. I felt like I had some worldliness, some experience and some maturity. Maybe it came from driving a taxi every night for three years, but I felt like I was far better with relating with all kinds of different people and just talking to them and meeting them where they were at and appreciating that everyone has their own unique story to tell. I finally felt like I had something to offer the kids I was teaching each day. I discovered that computers and kids are a powerful and amazing combination, where curious minds can invent and play and explore, and teachers and students are all just learners.

    And then I got a new principal at this school. He valued teaching. He valued learning. He consistently reminded us that what we did each day was important and noble and it mattered. He reminded us that we made a difference. And he reminded us that we were professionals, that we could never rest on yesterday’s learning, but that we should always try to be better, to know more about teaching and learning, to stay current, to take responsibility for our own learning, and to always, always, always be proud of who we were and what we did. I owe that principal a dept of deep gratitude. Coming back to teaching was the best decision I ever made.

    I really do believe that what we do matters. It matters more than any other profession on the planet. We start ripples of influence each day in our classrooms that can have an effect on generations to come. Every day we deal with the most precious and delicate and impressionable material in the world… the human spirit. I just think that with all that responsibility we better be damn good at what we do, or at least feel like we always want to be getting better at it.

    1. I’ll second that! Well said Chris.

      Although as a beginning teacher, I see change happening – at least around me. I feel that I was taken seriously from day one. That as I am passionate about edtech, other teachers trusted me and my advice (that takes some getting used to!)

      So far, although sometimes disheartening for the reasons you’ve outlined, I still LOVE being a teacher. I love that I have the ability to continue to discover new things every day/term/year…

      And most of all, I love being part of an awesome teaching community both online and in RL 😉

    2. Chris
      I am in the privileged role of principal in a primary school with a student popluation of 535 students. My passion is for teaching and learning and challenging teachers and students with their learning and questioning levels of thinking. Children are not empty vessles. They need to be actively engaged in their learning. I’d rather be teaching and learning than doing admin. The best part of my role is interacting with students and sharing PLT meetings and planning meetings with teachers at all levels.
      Teaching is a wonderful profession. Teachers make a difference to the lives of children. It is our responsibilty as a teacher to keep leanring and reading researched journals. Teachers should be the number 1 learners in any school.
      It is important that teachers share their passion and pride in their chosen profession. When asked my occupation, I proudly reply “Teacher”.
      I am fortunate to work with and learn from committed and dedicated teachers who share the role of educating our students. They feed my passion and fill my reservoir. Our TL assists all of us with our personalised learning.
      We need to celebrate great teachers and challenge the swamp dwellers.

      Trish Stewart
      St Martin’s , Rosanna.

  5. A wonderful post Chris….honest, passionate and personal!

    I’m was a mature-age teaching students after a career in marketing and public relations (note the people connection here!). I love teaching and I get frustrated at those that are marking time.

    I’m a mother too…and I want that for my kids – someone to spark the passion of learning, where time passes quickly because you are so engrossed in what you are doing you forget it’s recess or lunch or time to go home or to check the sms of facebook messages!

    Thankyou so much for sharing your thoughts with us all, it’s great to know there are many of us around!

    1. I used to be one of those pearnts who thought teachers had it easy (the holidays etc), that was until I got some experience last year at uni. It was only for a couple of hours a week but gave me a new found respect for teachers and insight into their job and all the extra work that you need to do to prepare for your lessons. I am still helping out (i’m a Phd student nowand have been teaching children in a primary school about computing. I know many people who see school as merely a babysitting service and this is so wrong and I think it relates strongly to parental interest in school as well I would say which saddens me I attend as many school events as I can (I do realise everyones situation is different and you cant always make it) but when you see the same folk time after time doing things it does send out a message.Keep up the good work teachers out there.Just my opinion.

  6. Hi Chris

    I think we saw in the ABC 4 Corners Monday night that change can and is occurring. The fact that the Victorian Dept of Education demolished 3 old schools to build a new, modern campus indicates that maybe there are people in government that are getting it. Giving the principal authority to make decisions on staffing and teaching processes is a big step in the right direction.

    With strong, visible school leadership and ongoing teacher/teaching review processes I think we will start to see the change education is crying out for.

  7. I agree with much of the original post but I ‘m going to come out swinging about the union bashing. If it wasn’t for the various teachers unions, teachers would be much more poorly paid and I’m confident the profession would attract fewer quality teachers. Ask yourself if you would do the job for twenty thousand dollars less per year. If it wasn’t for the unions, class sizes would be much, much larger. Do you think you could deliver the same quality of education with 40-60 students in your classroom? You (and I) may not agree with everything a union does but don’t forget, at least, those two things.

    I want quality, caring teachers for my kids and I am immodest enough to describe myself as a quality, caring ex-teacher. I just don’t think jaded, time-serving, past their use-by-date teachers arise out of a vacuum. I can think of many drivers of their cynicism, of the propensity of some to just turn up rather than inspire learning. These include a bureaucracy that demands more reporting, a trend across all of the public sector towards box-ticking rather than doing a great job, highly visible cynical political leadership where politicians will do just about anything (break promises, lie, misuse public funds for party advertising) to keep THEIR jobs. Not to mention the challenges presented by rapidly changing technology and a world where the community and politicians seem to expect school curriculum to expand readily to teach children EVERYTHING. In this context something has to give. And it’s not the unions’ fault.

    Chris, in your role as a technology mentor I am sure you are fequently frustrated by teachers who don’t want to stay up to date. I’ve had that role and know the frustrations first hand. I occasionally found the words, “Please get out of the new world if you can’t lend a hand” echoing through my brain on difficult days. The irony is, of course, that it was baby boomer teachers who were being so reluctant to embrace new technology and new ways of teaching.

    So, my issue? Australian teachers unions have a long, proud history of making education and education systems better for both teachers and students and I don’t like to see them identified as the source of a very difficult, complex problem: how to make schools better.

    Like Jim Mullaney above, I prefer the extended comment you made to the original post. And it’s interesting that you mentioned the value of great leadership from your principal.

    I will also add that I always look forward to a good, thought-provoking read when a new Betchablog post arrives in my email.

  8. Hi Chris,

    All I can say is “hear, hear!”. You have definitely articulated what I seem to be thinking about every single day!

    Until we realise our utopian dream, I’ll just keep lying asleep thinking how I can do things better…. 😉


  9. No argument about wanting dynamic motivated teachers. However it’s a big mistake to think that Unions are an agency that holds teaching back. My NAHT (Eng) provides the most dynamic forward thinking CPD available to me. Local Authorities just pedal the Govt. line. In England we have been told that rather than retiring at 60 we have to work until 67/68! Now I can’t see that working with class sizes of 50+ as the class limit of a ridiculous 30 will be put to one side. The teachers holidays will be cut back significantly etc… I see much more dynamic teaching than not. I am off now to my inappropriate 132 year old school and were it not for unions we would still be in the situation where married women couldn’t teach.
    Let’s be pro quality education, but don’t stick labels on all unions, or all teachers etc. Let’s work creatively and collaboratively towards a system where we all deliver the best we can. A system where money doesn’t by the most for the few.
    I enjoyed your post, I needed to be in the pub arguing this one with you:)

    Mr E

    1. I found this blog trughoh a link posted by @nwinton on twitter.Last Thursday I experienced my first EIS meeting about a few of the issues you mention above. I’m in my third year of teaching.You hit the nail on the head near the end of your post None of this will have any effect whatsoever on the quality of teaching and learning in our schools though.’The question is what we’re going to do help improve L&T? must be repeated again and again in every union meeting, every council meeting, every governmental meeting. I think all of us accept that cuts need made, we don’t like it, no-one does, but education isn’t successful because of money it is successful because of people. If things are to change, individual schools should be given flexibility to come together with parents, teachers and pupils and work out the changes needed to run the school more efficiently.There needs to be a radical change in tactics if the quality of L&T is to survive (and improve). Adaptable, intelligent thinking needs to be employed otherwise this rather dire situation will be repeated by our own kids in twenty years time.

    2. Dear fernid, Cristina.As with all your other posts, this one about passion and education engaged me thoroughly and gave me much to think about and reflect upon.Yes, we definitely need passionate educators?because, as you put it so well, far too many so-called teachers do little more than talk at their students, with the result that what they get back is silence and pairs of eyes gazing and nodding at them (and I understand nodding’ to mean both an indication of agreement or understanding and a sign that the students are falling asleep!). I think that for far too many so-called educators, teaching is merely a job?something characterized by doing little or nothing beyond following the outlines of a curriculum.You’re lucky to have discovered, through that training course that you didn’t want to enroll in, some of the keys to successful teaching: realizing that students want to be stimulated, believed in, respected for their ideas, shown new perspectives, prompted to share and contribute with what they know . . . [and that they also] want to be able to be themselves and not to have to act like a programmed robot that speaks or moves only when asked to. What a pity that so many professionals in education never make those discoveries! Furthermore, you’re spot on when you say that a major component of true learning is the ability of the teacher to speak to the students’ hearts?that’s what helps create meaningful personal and collective environments! You and I are definitely on the same page here: successful teaching and learning (which you and I both see as two sides of the same coin) are not, in our mutual view, merely students regurgitating back content provided by a teacher and/or completing assignments that a teacher has made. True teaching and learning, you and I believe, is mutual involvement in acquiring knowledge that is real and useful and personally meaningful. It’s a speaking which is not just from one mouth to many ears, but, intead, a sharing of thoughts and beliefs and questions in a way that enriches all who are involved in the collective teaching-learning process.In my own life, I’ve had many teachers?both those who worked in schools and those who did something else professionally but also helped me learn about myself and the world. Most of my teachers in schools (elementary through graduate school) were nice, caring people, though some were not, and most, at least part of the time, did something that made their classes interesting and engaging. I learned things from all of them, though in a few cases, what I learned was that I didn’t want to become a person like them!My strongest teacher memories are tied to the time I spent in public elementary, middle, and secondary school during my formative years. I remember nearly all of those teachers, but my most vivid and grateful memories involve my fifth grade teacher ( Grandma Ruth ) and three music teachers (Mr. Lively, Mr. Miethe, Mrs. Martin). Grandma Ruth was the grandmother of classmates my sister and I had. I remember Grandma Ruth because of two things: the breaks that she she gave her students and the stories that she read to us. During the breaks, we all went together into a large room and heard music. Sometimes the music was records (the old 33 1/3 or 78 rpm rpm vinyl disks) and sometimes it was Grandma Ruth playing the piano. Often, we wrote as we listened, but maybe sometimes, we just listened. I remember how much Grandma Ruth?and my classmates and I?liked Beautiful Dreamer. Grandma Ruth read the stories during the afternoons; this happened regularly, though I’m not sure whether it was daily, weekly, or on some different schedule. The stories were usually single chapters of interesting books from the school library, and they often involved faraway places (one was about someone who lived in the Amazon rain forest and liked it better than living in the civilized world’). I thoroughly enjoyed these stories?which were frequently (maybe always) connected to writing assignments or special-project work. I remember very well that Grandma Ruth got me interested in local history. I’m not sure whether this was a result of her stories or something she told us about in class, but thanks to her, I learned that our tiny little town (a village, actually) was once a stop on the Underground Railroad (a way for escaped slaves to make their way north to freedom) and that George Rogers Clark (an early explorer) had passed through what later became our town. I never saw my home town in quite the same way after that.I remember the music teachers for entirely different reasons, and have different memories from and about each one.Mr. Lively (and, to a lesser extent, his wife?who also taught music) got me interested in playing in the school band. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to do this at first, but in my town at that time, band and sports were the most popular school activities, and my father told me that I had to join either the band or the basketball team. Since I wasn’t (unlike my brother and sister) athletic, band was my only real choice. I began by taking group and individual lessons from Mr. Lively in the fourth grade and was in the band by the next year; I continued throughhout high school and undergraudate school. Mr. Lively was a likeable, gentle man who took an individual interest in all of his students, and through his support and acceptance and encouragement, music became a more and more important part of my life. Looking back, I think it was also a factor that my maternal grandmother took care of Mr. and Mrs. Lively’s only child, a beautiful little girl named Lane, so I also got to know both of them to a certain degree outside of the context of school.I was sad when the Livelys decided to take positions in another town at the end of my seventh-grade year, but I also liked Mr. Miethe, who succeeded Mr. Lively as band director. Mr. Miethe was also a gentle man, but different from Mr. Lively?more cerebral, more traditionally academic. I remember him best for two reasons. The first was that, because he was a thinker himself, he taught me to think (which was a new experience for me; before that time, I just (duitifully) gave the teachers what I thought they wanted me to give them). The second was that after his initial year, he instituted a new program in which existing band members could learn a new instrument through enrolling in free private lessons, and I took advantage of this opportunity and had lessons on oboe during the summer before I started high school. This was important, because flute wasn’t considered a boys’ instrument, but there was oboes were equal opportunity instruments. In high school and undergrad school, I mostly played oboe, but sometimes played flute. Sadly, Mr. Miethe saw the writing on the wall (that students were rapidly losing interest in school bands in our area) and left for a better job in a much larger school. We kept in touch for a while, but that faded away after a couple of years.Mrs. Martin (who taught high school chorus in addition to P.E. for girls) was extra special. Near the end of my eight-grade year, several members of the high school chorus came to my eight-grade classroom to encourage us all to join the chorus. They were cool and chorus sounded interesting, so I chose chorus as well as band for my elective classes. I enjoyed classes with Mrs. Martin and I also enjoyed the production extravaganzas that she generally put on instead of concerts. Those aren’t the reasons that she was extra special, however. Instead, I’ll never forget her because she helped me find myself and because she encouraged me to develop special interests (in particular, music composition) that I had. She was also forever young at heart and absolutely filled with passion, and she infused me with excitement and a desire to be a more activie person. In addition, she was a kind of mother figure and mentor who believed in me and encouraged me in ways that my very loving, supportive parents could not.It saddens me that all four of these teachers who were so influential in my life have passed away. I’ll never stop being grateful, however, for the different empowerments that they all gave me._________________________________________________________________By the way, I’ve finally taken you up on a suggestion and started a storytelling/reflections blog. At the moment, there’s not much to see on it, but after I’ve added the first installment (I’m working on it now), I’ll let you know how to access it.Dennis in Phoenix

  10. Rubbish, the teachers you are describing don’t exist. They are a myth. Almost all teachers in our schools are more than capable of being great teachers, given training and support.

    People aren’t innately good or bad, hard working or lazy. We are products of our environment. Teachers often have circumstances beyond their control either at work or at home, that you and I don’t know about. They often don’t have sound pedagogical knowledge, they may not have classroom management skills, yes if that is the case then they are ill-prepared to do their job, but it is not their fault, and they probably feel powerless to change their circumstances. Where is school leadership? Unfortunately they are often just as pedagogically weak and feel just as powerless to address the problem.

    You, yourself admit (in the comments) to being a “bad teacher” but you weren’t, you were ill-prepared, under supported and had little confidence. Bob Dylan didn’t do a deal with the Devil at the crossroads, he just went away and learnt to play the guitar, similarly nothing magical happened to you when you took time off teaching. We are the products of our experiences, Bob Dylan, you and all of the teachers you referring to.

    I want to be part of a education system, where teachers help and support each other. I want to be part of a education system that addresses root problems rather than the wasting time on the symptoms.

    1. Exactly, Richard – if we accept the idea of ‘life long learners’ then each of us is somewhere on that path. Rather than bemoaning how you may perceive another teacher’s view about their career, change them! That’s a teacher’s job…

      1. You’re right. I did admit that at one point I was a “bad teacher” who felt unable to deliver the sorts of learning experiences that the kids deserved.

        My response? I left teaching and only returned to it when I felt I had something to offer.

        Isn’t that my point?

  11. Hi Chris, I find it an interesting position that you take that would elevate your world perspective and insights into what makes a good teacher to give you the perceived right to judge other teachers as being good or bad to the extent where you could potentially fire them.

    Having little insight into their own personal lives etc which might account for there “bad teaching” as you write, thus making you one of the good teachers, you still think that you or someone sitting in the principals chair has the right to just fire them.

    Can I please have a list of characteristics you believe go into making up good teaching so we could properly debate that rather than just generalisations that you have in your blog post. What’s your beliefs in regards to literacy, numeracy, all core subjects, pedagogical approaches to learning and teaching, do you think spelling is a good or not, do you thing collegiality is necessary, what about being punctual always having a smile, non-teaching issues that go into the profession etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc.

    Surely the checks and balances supported by the union are there to protect us all from the possibilities of an unfair dismissal. These include merit and equity, arbitration and the unfair dismissals board.
    If you believe you aren’t part of the profession that deserves firing then isn’t it your responsibility to work with the other half and train them, encourage them, support them?



    1. Hi Kynan,

      Thanks for the comment. I’m not trying to elevate my perspective above others, and I apologise if it’s come across that way. I certainly have an opinion on this matter, and I feel pretty strongly about it, and I’d be prepared to debate my case, but I’d never suggest that its a case of “I’m right and you’re all wrong”. One of the wonderful things about this blog format is that it provides a forum for each of us to push our thinking forward by being challenged by others, and that certainly happen to me often here.

      As far as a list of characteristics, there are many (as you point out). But the really critical one from my perspective is a willingness to grow and learn. If a teacher can consistently demonstrate an unwillingness to want to learn or adapt or change or grow, and if they are consistently cynical and jaded and express a belief that the world owes them something, or if they consistently treat students with contempt or disdain or disrespect, then I think they are in the wrong profession and need to be removed. Sure, there needs to be check s and balances, and people need to have adequate protection from victimisation, etc, but when it’s really obvious that they are just not the right people, they need to go.

      I’d like to say that I’ve never met a teacher like this, but unfortunately I have. More often than I would have liked. Please understand that I’m talking about a very small minority of teachers, but the problem is that when we do strike these people we have almost no realistic mechanisms for removing them. And that, in my opinion, is a problem.

    2. One more thing…

      To your statement “If you believe you aren’t part of the profession that deserves firing then isn’t it your responsibility to work with the other half and train them, encourage them, support them?”

      While I can (and have) trained, encouraged and supported many teachers over the years, I’m not convinced it is ultimately my responsibility to make sure they do their job properly. Surely that responsibility lies with them?

      I once worked with a bigoted, rude, racist teacher who very obviously played favourites with certain kids he got on with and absolutely vilified others to whom he took a dislike. He was often rude and abrupt and blunt with kids for no reason. He would degrade kids publicly. And he had been a teacher who did this for over 30 years. Acceptable behaviour? My responsibility to fix? I don’t think so.

      I can tell you about another teacher I worked with whose ability to communicate with students was non-existent (thanks to both a complete lack of understanding of youth culture and also an extremely thick accent that made it almost impossible to understand his speech.) His fiery temper would often flare and he would berate and insult students in front of others, even throwing things at students in class. Is that the right person to be teaching? Is it my responsibility to fix it? I don’t think so.

      Or another teacher I worked with who would bluntly tell me that she had no interest in learning how to use the technologies that the school had invested heavily in and mandated they use of. Despite being offered plenty of training, she bluntly told me that was “too old to learn anything new” and that she only had a few more years to go before retiring so would refuse to be part of it and would just ride it out till then. An acceptable atitude for someone whose professional responsibility it is to work with learners? My responsibility to fix? I don’t think so.

      In your requote of my comment you use the term “the other half”… I’ll say it again… this is a small minority. I’m not talking about half of the teaching profession. I’m talking about a small minority… a few lousy teachers. Not many. A few. But if you were one of the kids who was vilified and picked on, or had things being thrown at them during a classroom temper tantrum, or missed out on up-to-date learning experiences because your teacher just could not be bothered, then “a few” is still way too many in my opinion.

      This is not about finding ways to fire people because they are simply having a bad day. We all have those. This is about identifying consistent, long term instances of poor teaching, antisocial behaviour or professional incompetence, providing options for remediating those things with appropriate support or training, but then if things don’t improve, to having options for get those people the hell away from our kids.

  12. Surely passionate, dedicated and ‘great’ teachers are largely a product of the environment they work within?

    Isn’t a large part of a union’s purpose to ensure the pay and conditions within which a teacher works encourages rather than hinders great teaching? If ever we need someone on our side fighting for the tools, resources, money and room to do what we’re good at, it’s now.

    I don’t think we should confuse burnout with dispassion.

    If we get to the point of needing to ‘respectly but firmly move people on’ who came into the profession wanting to make a difference, I think the fundamental question we need to be asking is ‘how did that happen?’ and dealing with the answer. If, as it seems you might be implying, there really are that many rubbish teachers out there, surely the system has to take a large chunk of the responsibility.

    Teaching is complicated, difficult and requires super-human skills sometimes. How about we strip back what teachers are required to do rather than give them more, allow them to have strengths and weaknesses and focus on their strengths, and be valued for the things they CAN do, not flogged for the things they can’t.

    Everything else, I agree with wholeheartedly!!

  13. As someone who trained and taught in a completely different education system, on the other side of the world, this is something that i’m really struggling with. I started my comment and it grew and grew in the end.. i turned it into a post. BE BETTER – MY REFLECTION –>

    I hope you find my response to the your post and the comments below it interesting Chris 🙂


  14. Chris,
    On Selena’s blog (which seems to have a technical issue stopping me commenting, so I’ll post here), you wrote:

    “In the past 5 years at my current school I’ve never had anyone sit down with me to look at what I’m doing, assess whether I’m doing a good job, or offer assistance or suggestions on how to do it better. I’ve raised it a few times with the Powers That Be, just to make sure I wasn’t missing something important, but no, those processes are simply not in place (although thankfully that’s changing as of this year). My previous school of 5 years also had no such evaluations in place either. The school I was at for 9 years before that also had nothing in place. Nor did the school before that, or the school before that, or the school I taught at on exchange… That covers nearly 25 years of teaching in the public, catholic and independent sectors, in two countries, and never have I had anyone step into my classroom to look at what I was doing or whether I was doing it well, or offer suggestions on doing it better.”

    and then later in the comment you wrote,

    “For Richard (commenter on the original post) to say that incompetent teachers are a myth and don’t exist is just ridiculous. He suggest that the answer is professional development and training. That would be fine if those teachers (and let’s be clear, it’s a very small percentage of the them) were at all interested in improving, but there are some I’ve met who simply are not. It’s not that they don’t get training or have access to PD… they simply believe that the way they’ve always done things is the best way and they are content to repeat it unquestioningly year after year.”

    So you want help but you don’t get it and its never been available but the teachers you are talking about in this post, and which you admit is a very small percentage, get help despite that fact that it is not available to you but they don’t want it and resist it?

    Sorry to be banging on about this but just wanted to address your response.

    1. An Aside: Hi Richard, Sorry to hear you couldn’t comment. Would really help me if you could contact me (use the contact form if you like or twitter @teachertechnol to let me know whay the technical issue was. I can’t make it stop me from commenting 🙂

    2. HI Richard,

      Thanks for your comments.

      Just to be clear, I never said I wanted help in the form of training but didn’t get it. I said in the time I’ve been teaching I’ve never had anyone come into my classrooms and assess whether I’m doing a good job. I’d like to think I was doing a good job, as we all would, but without some form of assessment or evaluation, how would we know? So it wasn’t a question of whether I was getting help, or training, or offers of PD, or advice from others… I got all of that. But I didn’t ever have anyone to mentor me or observe what I actually DID in my classroom in order to provide me with authentic, constructive criticism to help me grow as an educator.

      To the second part of your question, again, I never said that teachers don’t get offered help. They do. In the last 25 years I’ve seen millions of dollars – literally – poured into teacher training, teacher PD, and so on. I’m talking particularly about training in regard to the effective use of ICT since that’s the area I most concern myself with, but it’s probably valid in other areas as well. And after pouring all that time and money into teacher ICT training over the last 2+ decades, we STILL have people who will tell me, almost as though they wear it like a badge of honour, “I refuse to use computers in my classes. I don’t know anything about technology so I simply refuse to use it.” Yes, training and assistance is available, and yes, they resist it.

      You can tell me these people are mythical and don’t exist, but, well, you’re just wrong. They exist now, just like they existed back in 1980. For some of them, it may as well still be 1980.

  15. I am about to fsiinh school and have absolutely NO idea what I want to do with myself next year – go to university, but to do what? I have considered teaching, and it is the passion that teachers like you show towards their job that has really inspired me. I think it takes a certain type of person to do teaching – for example, I don’t know whether I would have the patience – and I think I would prefer working with older students rather than younger ones. It’s great to see that you love your job, and although I feel that other courses I have considered (such as medicine and physiotherapy) have a greater prestige than teacher, I do believe that above all, your career should be something that you love, regardless of anything else. Thanks for your inspiration.

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