Thank you so much for all of your hard work this term.
A letter was anonymously left on my desk this week. It is from a pupil who is very concerned about the teachers. I doubt for one minute the content is accurate as the pupils and staff at school are very happy. If you find out who may have spread this nonsense, please let me know immediately and an investigation will be initiated.
Why are you so tired?
Your body language suggests you are fed up. It’s almost like you have to work extra hours each week without pay. But your job should be so rewarding. I don’t understand. It must be easy for you to manage your workload. It’s not as though you have to jump through a ridiculous set of hoops to prove your impact. Or do you?
Let me give you some tips to ease your stress.
You do not need to highlight my work with pink and green. Just tick the good bits as you read it and tell me how to improve. It’s so much quicker. I take a lot pride in my work so I don’t like it when you highlight over half of my work. It kinda ruins it. I don’t mind if you circle a few things for me to check like spellings or punctuation errors. But most of the time, you can give me verbal feedback. It’s more personal and saves you hours of time writing comments just to satisfy a book scrutiny checklist.
Do you have to write comments every day or deep mark once a week? Who tells you to do this? Can’t you decide for yourself how you give feedback? Surely, if progress is made, you have done your job.
Verbal feedback stamper or VF initials. Why do you have to prove you have spoken to me in lessons? Why do you need to prove you helped me. This seems a complete waste of your time. Please stop it. I would rather you concentrate on more important things.
I don’t understand why you spend hours typing up learning objective slips. This must really annoy you. Why do you do it? Are you told to? Can’t we just write a short title? You clearly know what we are learning about and you tell us every day in lessons. It seems daft that you have to do this and it wastes so much paper. I would rather you spent the time on other important matters.
Writing two stars and a wish most days is silly. I work really hard to show I understand what you are teaching. Just give me a sticker or a house point if I do well. Why do you feel the need to write a next step all the time? It feels like you are always criticising me. It seems like my work is never quite good enough and it affects my self esteem. If I do what you ask, just praise me. Surely my next step is the next lesson you are teaching?
Often, it feels like you are rushing through my learning. Are you under so much pressure to show progress? You are always giving me targets to achieve. You surely know what I need to do to improve. Do you have to constantly tell me? Is this a whole school thing? It puts pressure on me all the time. I just want to work hard in lessons and do my best without fear of failure.
One of the most annoying things you ask us to do is to write comments about other pupils’ work. Surely you are the teacher. Isn’t that your job? You make us sit in random pairs then ask us to write comments on our partner’s work. You call this pupil voice or peer review. We don’t like it. I don’t want a pupil, who I don’t like particularly, writing in my book, telling me how to improve. I am happy to read my work to my friend and celebrate my successes. I don’t really care how my friend thinks I can improve. You are the most important person who I want to impress. You tell me.
Why do you insist I write down how I feel about my learning? You often get me to colour in a smiley face or traffic light my emotions. Or even worse, I have to write a sentence. It’s really dull. Have you not been on a course where you are asked to fill in a course evaluation form? You don’t like it do you? Well, stop asking us to review our learning every lesson.
Can’t you tell how we did in our lesson? Isn’t obvious if I ‘got it’ or need more help? Isn’t that your job? Is pupil voice something you are encouraged to implement? Is it something a book scrutiny checklist requires? We used to discuss our work or play games at the end of the lessons. This was much more fun. Sometimes, we would read our work out!
When the head comes in to observe us (although we think they are observing you) you get over-enthusiastic. You talk a lot more than normal and seem to do mini plenaries all the time. You don’t normally do this. Actually, you seem to do a lot of things you don’t normally do. Does the head have a checklist of things they are looking for?
After these observed lessons, you seem so tired for the rest of the day. Do you spend hours preparing for these special lessons? It seems like you are up all night preparing them. You suddenly produce these amazing resources that we never normally use. Surely, the head would want to see a typical lesson? You are a great teacher. You can see how much progress we have made in our books. Why do they do these observations? Don’t they trust you or something?
In parents evening you used to tell my parents how I had settled into class and said nice things to boost my confidence. You might have suggested something to do to help at home. Now you tell my parents in October that I will not be meeting expected standards for my age in nine months time and tell them you are putting me into intervention groups. Why do you do this? Are you under pressure to show progress? Are you told to do this? I don’t like it. How will you know if I will meet expected progress? What would happen if you didn’t tell me or my parents this information? Would it affect my learning? It’s a really odd way to motivate the pupils. Surely, there is another way?
Lastly, please go back to putting our lovely work on display. We used to love seeing our writing and art work on the wall. The classroom looked lovely and we felt proud of our efforts. Now you have several working walls that are barely updated and look scruffy. Nothing is mounted and most things are too small for us to read anyway. Everything hangs of the side of the display board. It’s like you are trying to make them look raw and edgy; proving excellent learning is taking place. It sucks.
I hope this helps.
As you can see, this pupil is deluded so it is imperative we find out who wrote it. Why would they make this up? Obviously, completely ignore the advice they have given. The pressures you are all under are completely valid and keeps me in my job.