Can teachers be trusted? If not, what assumptions are being made? That they went through a degree, a further qualification or training period, put themselves in front of dozens if not hundreds of children every week, in a position of care and responsibility, often with little appreciation, lots of scrutiny, endless demands for evidence, public and media vilification and a pretty harsh workload….and all for the what? For an easy life? For the money? Oh yes, and of course the holidays…(yawn, we’ve all had THAT discussion plenty of times).
In my capacity as a CPD leader, I see bright and eager new prospective trainees enter the profession, desperate to convey their enthusiasm and capabilities for teaching, for their subjects, for pastoral care, for team working and for improvement. I remember being in that position myself 25 years ago. In training our students and NQTs, I see how overwhelmed they often are with the sense of responsibility…their own classes whose successes rest largely on the experiences they can offer, evaluate and refine. There comes a point when I have to trust that this person can do this job at a level appropriate to their career stage. I’ll make sure there are checks, support will be in place, adjustments made, expectations clarified, if needed. They have to trust in me that I can judge when this support is needed and when increased independence has been earned.
With those in more established positions, I have to know that classes are being stimulated and challenged, that progress is being made, that subject knowledge is still developing, that reflections on practice are happening and improvements are being made, that children are cared for, safe and valued. I have to know this, for the sake of the children, and yet trust this, for the sake of the teacher who I also value. Once trust has been established, I make light-touch investigations, supportive observations, engage in adult discussions rather than endless form filling and box ticking. Trust is qualitative. Trust is dynamic. Trust is developmental.
So yes, it is important to ask what it means to trust teachers – and it is time for us to be renegotiating this – but it’s also important to believe and accept, and not endlessly question and doubt, that our commitment to our work, our knowledge, capability, compassion and skill, will ensure the best outcomes for pupils.