Image credit: byRon Mader. CC Licensed on Flickr
I have a theory.
Let’s call it Stacey’s Theory of Messing up a Good Idea #5
1. Somebody in a school comes across something that they believe will make an impact on their teaching. This may be from a course, or (increasingly) from a blog post they’ve read online. Having done their research they try out the idea and it appears successful.
2. They share this idea with a few others, and it may be adopted more widely
3. Someone higher up the food chain decided that everyone in the school should be doing this
(In some cases we can skip straight to this step if a senior manager goes on a course and comes back with ‘An Idea’)
4. In order to help ‘share best practice’ the idea is reduced to the smallest amount that can be communicated and to ensure that this idea spreads, it is backed up by some kind of tick box, alongside lesson observation, book scrutiny or some other system of
control quality assurance.
5. Without the initial enthusiasm of that teacher, the idea flounders and proves to be less effective than in the original version. Not only is this less effective, but because teachers are so busy implementing a new system they don’t really believe in, they have less time to go and find out about stuff that interests and is likely to actually have a positive impact on their teaching.
The passion and belief of the original teacher may very well be the thing that made the difference in the first place, over and above whatever the strategy was.
We need to stop fetishising ‘best practice’ and start creating an environment where teachers have the time and skills to find out how to harness their passions for better teaching.