I sort of suspected this already, because when I was teaching and was earmarked as a scapegoat, I suddenly heard crickets and saw tumbleweed where before there were colleagues. There is definitely a culture of every man for himself in teaching, and zero team work.
Personally, I think it is a result of the nature of the job, where you are left alone with classes more than you are collaborating with colleagues. Also because of the extremely high workload, most people are too busy to even speak to each other in the staff room. I know I was.
What I have learned from this blog though is that successful teachers will actually turn on those who are struggling. The aspect of this I encounter most is that a lot of teachers agree that it is too difficult to get rid of incapable teachers, and I hear a lot about these amazing infallible super humans who have to suffer the annoyance and extra work generated by someone they work with who is incapable who should really have been fired long ago.
As I spoke about in earlier posts in this series, so much of your performance as a teacher is determined on factors that are outside of your control. I honestly believe that most successful teachers are successful because of fluke: they have always been observed with nice classes and when the planets have all been in the right alignment. It only takes one planted manipulated observation to start the slippery slope into capability proceedings. They have just never had one.
In an everyman for himself scenario, it is best to distance yourself from struggling colleagues to avoid being tarred with the same brush by management. I also know that ‘shopping’ your colleagues is encouraged in some schools, and actually doing that is a way of gaining favour from management.
I don’t blame the successful teachers, in fact, I think I would have done myself given the chance. That’s just the way it is in education. In most places when you have a weak link, you work to bring them up to scratch, as you are only as strong as your weakest team member. In education, the strong links just push you out completely.
Have you experienced being deserted by previously supportive colleagues?