Authenticity in teaching

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It seems that many teachers only trust teachers. Whether it be online or within your own school, I’ve observed an unwritten (or written in some cases) rule that if you don’t currently teach, you and what you have to say about teaching, somehow ‘doesn’t count’ or at least lacks authenticity. 

 Within this category are included:

Consultants 

Politicians

 Ofsted inspectors 

SLT 

ITE lecturers 

 Of course in the last two cases there is an argument that they do ‘teach’ but it’s either adults or don’t teach very much. 

 Jokingly (?)my RE colleague suggested we refine it further; a teacher is someone that has marked a student book in the last three months. 

 So what’s the issue? Why don’t people think that current non-full time colleagues can contribute? Is it the full timetable part that matters? Or working full time in a school? Or the duties a teacher faces on a daily basis such as marking and report writing? Or dealing with large numbers of children on a daily basis?

 I think the main issue that these teachers suggest is that if you’re not currently experiencing it you cannot fully understand it, no matter how hard you try. The moment you leave the classroom you’ve lost the ability to fully sympathise and therefore most of what you have to say about teaching lacks authenticity. 

Sadly I think some people have clocked onto this phenomenon. On twitter a ‘non-teacher’ may be ambiguous in their bio. A consultant may say ‘I’m a science specialist’. Whilst this may be true they’re not a fully practicing science teacher. An Ofsted inspector may say they ‘spend hours in the classroom’. Playing the authenticity ‘game’ may mean the difference between a day’s work for some.

 So, are these teachers right? Does it matter? Is this distrust unique to teaching?
Is there a set of criteria as to what makes you an authentic teacher? 

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5 thoughts on “Authenticity in teaching

  1. Ironically, many of the people who take this line would be outraged if a doctor told them they should not comment on healthcare delivery unless they have are practising doctors. Yet the science and evidence base involved in medicine is much more technical and complex.

  2. It feels like it matters. When you’re working upwards of 10 hours a day and just barely managing to fit in what has been demanded, it’s irksome to be given directives by anyone who isn’t in that situation. It’s also irksome to have to have lessons observed by senior leaders who have less classroom experience and all of that over a decade ago. That sort of thing.

  3. I agree with you. Standing in front of a class for five hours a day, not being able to go to the loo when you want, having to choose between food, photocopying and going to the loo at lunch, and still not being able to go to the loo as you have a meeting where SLT tell you all the extra things you shiuld be doing but aren’t. Teaching 23/25 periods a week is exhausting in a way that you can only understand if you teach 23/25.

  4. I’ve tried to keep a project going which gets me into the classroom, but it’s nothing like the pressure of doing it every day. I have to accept that I’m working in a different way now and hope I make a contribution.

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