It’s been an intense week. Starting with the national CfE leadership event in Edinburgh on Senior Phase including Nationals and new Highers, catapulted back into early years collaborative work transforming notions of interagency working towards one team and onto work with the local authority assessment team in partnership with Education Scotland making sense of assessment 3-18- all to a background of major restructure of the Council.
What integrates all of this is our sense of moral purpose.
I met a friend from teacher training days last Saturday in Edinburgh and towards the end of our wallowing in old stories, family news and critical challenging aspects of our lives, my friend brought up her stress in recording planning of learning. After over 30 years of classroom teaching, she was required to plan with codes and minutiae from CfE experiences and outcomes that was paralysing her in achieving the creativity and focus she craved in inspiring her learners. If only she knew that I sat on the ‘Tackling Bureaucracy’ Taskforce and everything she said underpinned the findings of that group and brought it to life for me. She exemplified the teacher that the unions raised who knew their craft, understood learning and continually sought to improve their own understanding alongside their Learners…yet were being required to go through a process that was universal. First day of teaching same as teacher clocked up over 9000 days. While I accept and have witnessed the old adage of 30 years being 30×1 year as opposed to 1×30 years, ‘one size fits all’ planning systems do not make any sense.
I ended the week- earlier this evening with a coffee meeting with a highly experienced and effective Headteacher who was feeling swamped by the prevailing agenda. What disturbed me was that on closer examination this agenda had little to do with learning or teaching and more to do with managing a large school with little supply staff and more management time being used to cover absent staff and attending authority meetings on financial savings meetings that required their professional expertise to minimise impact on frontline services.
What threaded through the week was moral purpose and frustration in equal measure.
I also read a fellow twitterer’s blog that reminded me of the essential truth: ‘scratch the surface of a cynic and find a frustrated idealist’. In tweets this teacher was critical, angry and definitely cynical over the implementation of Nationals and the impending Highers. His blog on developing and implementing English N5 course was inspirational.
My job often steers me towards simplistic judgements and reactions based on frustration and overload yet moral purpose is the antidote. We are working with colleagues across the country that are fallible, can be opinionated and arrogant and can express this in articulate terms. However these colleagues have the good of the young people they teach at the heart of their thoughts and actions and the absolute minority of teachers who do not should be dismissed in terms of our views or belief in the integrity of the teaching profession. I value the connection with colleagues/friends at the interface of teaching/ learning. Indeed I profess jealousy that they have the in depth knowledge that we in central services can only gain often through tacit knowledge.
I often joke that I am ‘on the dark side’ but I don’t believe that. I would never have predicted that I would be in authority level management and leadership most of my career but what drives and has driven me is championing the teacher. This can be an empty, mindless statement rooted in conservatism and inertia in moving forward educationally but I am reminded every day of the dynamic, passionate, heart-rending at times devotion and commitment to learning and achievement that drives most teachers.
So- moral purpose is also my saviour.