News & Events

Leadership Likes: Mrs Cook

Teachers are very much in the news at the moment.

Whether it is the on-going speculation over schools re-opening, teacher vaccinations or just the increased exposure to what teachers ‘actually do,’ there is much debate in the public domain about the power of the pedagogue (love that word – my favourite teacher introduced it to me).

And of course, increased access to ‘what teachers actually do’ during these extended periods of lockdown has generated in most people a sense of, if not awe, certainly huge appreciation of the profession. At Croydon High, we have been inundated with positive messages acknowledging the amazing work our staff are doing every day. And I know those messages make such a difference to the teachers, so thank you so much on their behalf.

A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, however, and it seems that for some (though not in our community I must stress) the increased exposure to teachers has given licence to express opinions and offer advice on how to do it better. One of my favourite reads of the past week was the letter sent by a primary school headteacher in London, advising those who had been criticising on-line lessons, to train as teachers themselves.

In the letter, Colin Dowland described how some parents had ‘taken advantage’ of online learning platforms to send ‘highly critical messages of advice to teachers about how to do their jobs’. Mr Dowland’s advice to those parents who he described as now considering themselves to be ‘educational experts’ was to train as teachers themselves. In his letter to parents, he even provided a link to teacher-training routes via Ucas, pointing out – …’there are never enough teachers, and I suspect many of them will be leaving the profession after this year’.

In an interview with the TES, Mr Dowland acknowledged that his link to the teacher training website was tongue-in-cheek, but made a number of really good points, particularly that at the present time, we are asking our teachers to teach, as well as to be video stars, IT gurus, mental health coaches, virologists and health and safety experts. This really struck a chord with me, particularly as teachers are doing this and also doing what we are all attempting to manage –  being parents, sons and daughters, colleagues, or even just citizens, in a sometimes unrecognisable world.

Transferring the classroom to the Google classroom was never going to be easy, but the teachers in my world sometimes make it seem so. Pupils remain engaged, inspired and responsive; they are producing work of an incredible standard and they seem to be enjoying it too ( although nothing can replace the real thing and it goes without saying that they are missing their friends and their teachers too). As a non-teacher, but a proud member of the (currently virtual) Croydon High staffroom, I can bear witness to the fact that what appear effortless, is actually far from that. The WhatsApp chat is full of shared ideas, support, tips and tactics to continually enhance the quality of the on-line experience for pupils, and to support one another. Because of course, everyone has the occasional down day – that is what makes them human – but that is also what makes them such great teachers. It really is humbling to observe how MUCH they care, how invested they are in the lives and futures of their pupils and how determined they are to keep going. And I know the Croydon High staff room is not unique in this regard.

So, I would like to take the opportunity to ask you to join me as I raise a virtual toast to teachers, everywhere. Perhaps, as you do, you might think back to a teacher from your life, someone who challenged or inspired you or perhaps put you on the ‘road less travelled’…someone who made the difference? Perhaps it is someone who is still doing it now, or perhaps you haven’t thought about them in years? Whoever it is or was, we salute them and are grateful for the fact that those who CAN, teach.

Fran Cook

Director of External Relations

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