PPTA President

Image Angela Roberts PPTA president 2013-2014

News and views from PPTA president Angela Roberts.

Includes the PPTA News viewpoint and his responses to various education issues raised in the media.

(Angela began her presidency mid January 2013)

 

 

Valuing teachers as one

PPTA president Angela Roberts questions the political public relations of teaching awards - valuing individuals - while, in the background, political actions are devaluing the profession of teaching. 

Valuing teachers as one

Another round of the prime minister’s excellence in teaching awards has appeared on my desk this week.

While I have no objection to a ceremony that gives public recognition to the skills and talent of teachers, it’s not for me.

Intrinsic rewards of teaching

For me the rewards of the job are intrinsic. I like that I have the freedom to work out the best way of engaging kids round a topic; I like the creativity involved in trying to make an assessment more challenging and appealing; I like the sense of satisfaction and purpose that comes from testing out a new idea and finding that the kids really get it and go on to turn it into something far better than I could have envisaged. And I really rate the approval of my colleagues. If something I have done works for someone else and we can share our experiences and work together to improve it for next time, and for others, I feel pretty good.

Performance pay is not motivating

Earlier this year I met with a group of business people who had asked me to speak about performance pay. They were polite, friendly and interested but completely unconvinced by my exposition (despite my stimulating power points) about what made me leave a job where there were regular bonuses and join a profession where the motivation and the rewards are largely internal.

Politicians may seek power and control, teachers do not

That’s the thing about teachers that our political leaders don’t always understand. They understand that it’s critical to recruit graduates who are idealistic and committed to the job but after that they assume that teachers want what they, as politicians, usually want - status, power and control. Actually what teachers want is responsibility, respect and value. The things that motivate business leaders and politicians are not the things that teachers prize.

Teaching collegiality and autonomy is being undermined

At the same time, the politicians and bureaucrats are constantly undermining the very things that make teaching meaningful.
Autonomy is being replaced with prescription, surveillance and auditing; assessment, which should be a tool to support teaching and learning, is being turned into a political publicity stunt and excessive workloads are preventing teachers from connecting with each other.

Public affirmation is nice; systemic support for teaching and learning is better

Publicly affirming teachers as excellent practitioners is all very well and good but it doesn’t address the systemic problems that militate against teachers’ enjoyment and enthusiasm. Multiple sets of standards, codes and criteria don’t lift performance. They induce cynicism, mistrust and compliance. If we were really into evidence-based policy such clumsy and ineffectual management tools would have been binned long ago; their continued appeal can be explained in one word - control.

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