As a recent recruit to the RSC London team, I gave a presentation to my new colleagues about my very recent experience as a teaching practitioner in the F.E sector. The idea behind it was to explore what the reality of being a teacher in a typical London provider is at the present time.
Calling it the ‘teacher’s journey’ I sat down and brainstormed, with a load of stick it notes, all the different elements, activities and ‘duties’ that made up my role throughout a typical academic year. My final visual image of a path (with footsteps and all) produced a rather bitty and staggered journey. It included a lot of stops such as writing out learner profiles, getting learners to sign their learner contracts, attendance checking and reporting to line manager highlighting ‘at risk’ classes and learners, induction sessions, creating schemes of work (including tutorial schemes of work), individual learning targets (as well as class targets that would come out from class tutorials and then feed into the other scheme of work) and so forth. After all this and taking a step backwards, what struck me (and others) was “what about the teaching bit?” That was reduced to a rather smallish bit on the map.
Admittedly, a good lesson is based on very good planning, and once you have done the groundwork the actual teaching and learning should (theoretically) flow – but nonetheless the final conclusion is that with all these demands, focusing on funding issues and OFSTED alerts, as well as the current climate of cutting back non-contact time – teachers do really have less and less time to develop their individual teaching practice in innovative ways and, equally important, take part in creating an overall culture of innovation within their organisation actively and enthusiastically.
Yet paradoxically, developing a culture of innovation at an organisational level is the thing that could really help overwhelmed teaching practitioners, but like a good lesson thorough planning and time must be given to it. I think that is why the work that the RSCs do to support providers in planning and developing their digital landscape is so vital. To be able to map out a teacher’s journey in a completely new landscape where the whole organisation has found e-solutions to all those administrative niggles, where there is a creative culture of sharing and developing and where learners and learning are placed back centrally on the map is what it’s all about !