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Friday, December 07, 2012

Reflections on an Eleven Plus Pass

You have hired a teacher or a tutor.  You will have tried to find the very best you can – after all there is only one chance at the eleven plus. There are no retakes.

The eleven plus, however, is not simply a matter of finding the best possible tutor. Good teachers will be working off their own mental check lists:

Have I prepared the work for the lesson?
Am I going to try to evaluate my performance?
Am I thinking about this particular child – and not just sticking a label onto him or her?
Are the parents aware of what I am trying to do?
Does the child value my efforts?
Does anyone ever say thank you?

For years the appraisal of teachers was conducted in a rather formal manner.

By Management
This is where Ofsted or the Head monitored the teacher and considered the role of the teacher within the school.

Public Accountability
Hopefully gifted teachers will be rewarded and ineffective ones removed or re-trained.

By Professional Development
This is where teachers can go on courses – and their skills and abilities can be judged and monitored by fellow teachers.

Some teachers may feel hostile about the idea of their being appraised – they may feel that being judged reflects on their professional expertise.  One thing that could emerge, however, is that some teachers may revel in being thanked for their work. This in turn could lead to dialogue between teachers and parents.

“Hello, we are the self-elected parents who have come to watch you teach and give some observations and feedback.”

“Hello, I am the well-known and highly respected eleven plus teacher who has helped fifteen children to pass the eleven plus. I have never had a failure.”

“Hello, if you decide to throw these parents out for presuming to question you, I would be delighted if you would accept my child. I know you are the best teacher around. Please?”

Some supplementary questions:

Did the lesson start on time?
Did the teacher greet my child?
Did my child enjoy the lesson?
Did my child understand most of the lesson?

Sensibly, the questions, and the mutual reservations, continue. Personalities and egos apart – all that matters is a pass!