Stories + Views
Teaching in the modern world – teachers need multiple approaches to improve learning in today’s classrooms and governments should nurture teachers.
Today’s teachers are expected to use a wide range of strategies in the classroom, says the latest OECD report on developing school leaders. OECD found that collaborative leadership which encourages teachers to contribute to decision making may be a more effective route to improving schools than top down leadership from the head alone.
Education for the modern world requires more than transmitting knowledge. Teachers should have deep subject knowledge but they also need to develop a “rich repertoire of teaching strategies” which included direct instruction to the whole class, guided discovery, group work, supporting self-study and individual enquiry. This range of approaches can be adapted to suit local circumstances and pupils’ needs. Teachers needed to reflect on their practices, collaborate with other individuals, develop supportive networks and acquire strong skills in the use of technology for effective teaching and tracking student learning.
The whole approach was summarised in the saying, “Teach less – learn more.”
OECD found that teacher shortage was a significant problem in many countries. This had a particular negative impact on schools in remote areas or schools with a higher proportion of disadvantaged pupils.
The report recommended two courses of action for governments. One is the need for a targeted response which would address teacher shortages. Teaching posts, particularly those which were hard-to-fill, could carry incentives not just in salary terms but such inducements as reduced contact time, smaller classes, the provision of support staff and professional development. These factors were important in ensuring that teaching was viewed as an attractive profession not just for recruitment but also for retention. Another policy response would be to raise the status of teachers and improve their comparative position in the professional job market.
So how well is the present Government doing in helping to recruit and retain teachers? Teacher recruitment is down. Teachers are maligned and subjected to “bully-boy” tactics. The Chief Inspector of Schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, ratchets up his increasingly confrontational approach towards teachers. Politicians support their policies with deception and misleading data disseminated by facile tweets, glossy marketing and soundbites unsupported by evidence.
As other countries work to improve the education of their young people, England is heading for a perfect storm.