Teacher professionalism is at risk because there are so many things other than teaching for which a school, college or learning provider is judged. I have just come through an OFSTED inspection and the criteria against which we were graded included things like the tidyness of the classroom, the attitude of students and the plethora of forms given filled in correctly.
Now, call me old fashioned but being a teacher, for me, is about inspiring, motivating and developing learning skills in students. It is about them achieving realistic goals while enjoying the learning experience, it is not about filling in numerous forms on health and safety risks in the classroom, making sure the school is freshly cleaned and painted and checking whether 5 year olds have completed their learning objective forms in maths and science.
When we had a post OFSTED meeting, the teacher who had got the most positive mcomments from the inspector told us the inspector was thrilled at the way he had completed all his paperwork, presented it in a neat file and got the students to sit in regimented rows during the lesson. We knew he had two dispruptive students moved, he usually was slovenly and rude, he was an awful colleague with little regard for whether his students enjoyed the learning experience and, in short, he is probably the worst teacher any parent would choose for their children.
Another teacher, who is adored by the children, gets brilliant results and is an all-round star of the school got told she must use more IT and computers in her class room (a box on the inspector’s form told him this). She teaches art to 7 year olds so how she would base lesson on computer learning skills was beyond most of us.
Good teachers have a wealth of skills and schools are concentrating too much on fulfilling their records, forms and gaining good OFSTED and other inspections than actual teaching. Some good things are happening too. A teacher now has to record their professional development which means that they have to show continual development and increase in their knowledge and up to date developments in their subject and this is good because many teachers of the old school variety had become somewhat complacent and remained static when there had been considerable developments in their field of teaching. Professional development can include attending classes, courses and talks by experts, taking a journal about your subject and reading it and organising trips to see the subject in practice. This increases the skills of both teachers and learners alike and should be encouraged.
Most teachers are professional and want to teach well. They enjoy their subject and have an over riding desire to pass knowledge on to students. However, the increased demand on them for filing in forms,class tidyness and other areas which are non-teaching is taking a great deal away from the time they could spend developing lesson plans, adding interest and skills to their learning criteria and so on.
Teacher professionalism may be at risk but many teachers are now taking a stand and saying enough is enough. They are almost ignoring some pointless forms and if enough do this, these forms will eventually lose their importance. Until then, we struggle to a maintain the standards parents expect and we will do this but if the demand for form filling continues, professionalism will suffer.