Something I see over and over again when teachers are asking for help and advice is them asking whether a particular thing that has been said to them is ‘allowed’. The reason they are asking this is that it seems very personal, completely out of their control and unrelated completely to their performance on the job.
An example from my own experience is that I was told I was not sitting in the chair properly when I was talking to students. I have also heard of teachers being told they will never understand children until they have their own, that they are not talkative enough to be a teacher or that they move their arms too much when delivering lessons.
I fail to see how any of those examples mentioned above are relevant to doing a good job, and I think they show that there is a culture of excessive and hyper detailed micro management in education. I mean, if my managers couldn’t even trust me to sit in a chair to their liking, then how will they ever be able to trust me enough to deliver good lessons?
Moving or not moving your arms and other similar petty things are not part of anybody’s job description, NQT or PGCE standards or lesson grading criteria, and of course they’re not. They should not form part of a judgement of a teacher’s capability or performance in the slightest, not even as a comment in meetings.
You could argue that body language and personality play a key part in how students engage with you and respond to you. Are they that important that management need to be in control of them though? Are we really expecting teacher’s lives and personalities to bend to fit the job, rather than them developing their own style of working based on who they already are?
It seems to me that management in schools think that if they can’t support that person to be a good teacher, then they change the person.
Have personal comments ever been dropped into your performance reviews?