I’m having terrible nightmares at the moment. In my dream, I have an extremely positive conversation with staff at my new school. It’s the same conversation every night. It’s truly awful. It’s affecting my sleep. It goes something like this…
“First thing’s first. You may mark books with any colour pen. It makes no difference to learning.
Pupils can improve their work with pencil or pen, in any colour you decide. They will still improve. No need to evidence editing with a purple pen.
You can write what you like in books – or write nothing at all. As long as feedback occurs. That goes without saying; you are a teacher after all. That’s what you do all day. You must give feedback all the time!
I don’t usually carry out book scrutinies. I thought we could just share some books in a staff meeting to see what everyone else is up to. It will be great to share some good work together. I know you work hard to ensure books look nice. That’s why you like teaching. I know you’ll want pupils to present work neatly etc. It’s second nature for you. You don’t need me to give you a long set of ‘book rules’ to adhere to. It’ll be like you’re at school again… oh hang on. You know what I mean!
We do have a school reward system but you can do your own thing too as each class responds differently. Make it work for you and your class.
If ever you need me to talk to any pupil about their behaviour, please let me know. It can be tough at times and a stern, but supportive word with a pupil from me can go a long way. Please use me as your back up. You don’t need to worry. It has nothing to do with your teaching. I will phone parents for you too if needed.
If you want me to see you teach and give you any pointers on how you could improve, then great. If not, I see no reason to pop in at all. I’ll leave it up to you. Learning walks are not particularly positive experiences for anyone. You’ll just put on a show for me anyway. It’s not normal. I won’t see you naturally teach. I trust you. I assume you have a teaching qualification!
In addition, every time someone visits our school, I promise not to use it as an opportunity to carry out a learning walk. Not that I do them anyway.
Tests will be kept to a minimum and will only test content you have taught. I am not interested in giving tests just to collect data using test papers that assess parts of the curriculum not yet taught.
You know full well how to help and support children so I see no need to take you out of class to attend pupil progress meetings. I trust you to do your best. I know you will tell me if you have any concerns. You only teach pupils for a few hours a day and I fully appreciate how their home life affects their learning and overall performance. I simply refuse to hold you fully accountable if a pupil doesn’t make accelerated progress; especially if you have done your best.
I don’t do morning diary meetings. Sorry! I will write bits and bobs on the staffroom whiteboard. You can read it in your own time.
You can share the learning objective with pupils how you see fit. If you want pupils to write it fully in books you can; or even just a one word title will suffice. Type them up if you want to but there really is no need. Or, why not just write one on the white board and just have it displayed during the lesson. Pupils don’t even need to write it out then. I don’t really mind either way; it has the same impact on the learning. It’s not really up to me to tell you how to share the learning objective. Do what works for you.
Please use your display boards how you see fit. Working walls or static boards are fine with me. You know your class better than anyone. You know the level of support and visual stimulation they need. I trust you. I won’t be checking. You have loads of ideas that are way better than mine anyway!
If you want to run a club, that’s great. But, you’ll have other priorities so concentrate on those first. There’s no expectation to run clubs.
UPS staff. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sticking with teaching and continuing to set a good example to others. I value you so much. You make your job look easy but that doesn’t mean I need to give you extra responsibilities. That was never the idea. You deserve that extra bit of money. Your experience is invaluable. Thank you for challenging me and keeping me on my toes. Thank you again.
I will email you when I need to; certainly not in the evenings or at weekends. That’s the right thing to do to keep anxiety levels to a minimum.
I will allocate an inset day for report writing and four staff meetings. I know it’s not much but it should help.
We have bought in schemes for literacy and maths but if you have your own methods based on your own experience and research then please do that instead; I wouldn’t want to suffocate your own strengths and skill sets. We may ask you to use the schemes if we have concerns about your teaching however. In most cases, you will have full autonomy to choose what’s best for you and your class.
School policies will be called ‘school policies’ – not non-negotiables. That term is banned; sounds very serious eh!
Please feel free to mark books during lessons if children are independently working. There are times when you absolutely must do this to catch up, or to work 1:1 with pupils as you come across their misconceptions. I won’t criticise you for this at all. It’s your job after all. You decide.
I will always provide lunch for inset days. It’s the very least I can do. You work so hard all year. I also won’t charge for tea and coffee; another perk you should be able to enjoy.
There’s no need to update blogs and upload everything to the website every week. Perhaps upload a few photos at the end of term. Other than that, use the time saved to concentrate on lessons. That must be your focus.
Every teacher will have enough glue sticks. Always. They play a significant part in your day. It’s a no brainier for me and will help to reduce stress. No need for your TA to hoard them anymore.
All classes will have a trimmer. End of. They don’t cost very much.
You can photocopy in colour. It helps to make lessons more engaging and makes things look a bit nicer eh.
I have already paid for a school Twinkl account so there’s no need to pay for it out of your own money.
Please remember to give your receipts for anything you buy out of your own money to improve lessons. The bursar will happily reimburse you. Although there is a limit of £100 a term. I hope that’s ok.
Teaching is hard enough without having to be told you must stay at school during PPA. You are allowed to work at home (or just have some time for yourself). I realise you work long hours all the time. I wish I could you give you more PPA to be honest. Half a day is so inadequate.
Staff meetings are every week unless I can see your workload increasing. In which case, I might give you a couple of staff meetings off. I will finish at 4:30 without fail. I have stuff to do too. It’s just nice to touch base every week and discuss and share some ideas. They won’t be used to criticise you or to roll out initiative after initiative. Who likes doughnuts by the way?
Anything related to school policies or data, will only go up in the PPA room. The staff room should be a place to switch off. I have some Monet prints I could put up instead, but I am open to suggestions.
I will reinstate afternoon breaks. It’s so important that pupils get ten minutes in the afternoon to run around. It’s when they are most fidgety. It makes perfect sense. You can sort out your next lesson too. Or go to the loo after lunch. I am happy to be on duty during this time.
I have overviews for the year so I don’t need to see medium term plans or daily annotated plans to check you are teaching properly.
I promise not to become best friends with any staff. It’s important I keep a professional distance from you all. It gets awkward otherwise. I hope you understand. I have my own group of friends anyway out of school and don’t need to attach myself to a small group of teachers who kiss my butt all day. I just want to be fair and treat everyone honestly.
I am not interested in winning kite mark awards. They create extra work for staff. They’re used to put on the bottom of letters to parents. It’s not worth it if you have to spend so much time collecting evidence for them. Is that ok with you? Parents won’t notice anyway.
Parents will not have access to staff email addresses. Emails will be filtered appropriately via the office staff. Is that ok?
I have reinstated the staff toilets so you don’t have to use the same ones as the pupils. I get the theory behind sharing but it’s not pleasant. They are pretty grim eh. You deserve to be able to go to the loo without pupils standing outside the door listening in.
I am sure there a few other things I have forgotten. I will let you know in due course. In the meantime, have a great day.”
I may need to see the doctor. It’s really affected me. Such a bad dream.