In Damian Hinds’ most recent address, he spoke of his “determination to reduce the workload of teachers and return teaching as one of the most rewarding jobs you can do”. To make this possible, the learning and development of teachers must be held in a similar band of priority to the education of students. Teaching is regarded as being amongst the most hard-working professions in the UK, yet the progression of their skills and their careers are not given the same attention as in private sector roles. Technology has largely had a positive effect on the education landscape, and it is up to people operating within it to integrate the use of innovative technology in helping teachers improve themselves and their ability to raise outcomes for students in a time of tough budgeting.
This is in stark contrast to the values of the wider education system. The values of the education industry are centred around the learning and education of children of all ages. This spans the entirety of children’s time in the education system, including both curricular and extracurricular activities. The education industry should take a similar stance with teachers if we are to make well-rounded teachers who want to stay in the profession. Better teachers will result in better student attainment and ideally will solve the retention and recruitment issue facing the industry.
To better implement this, education institutions must use the new technologies available to them to reassure and inspire a new generation of teachers in a time of low budgets and high workloads. The downturn in the popularity of teaching is further proof of a country of educators that have fallen out of love with the profession. However, it is easy to see how this could change if the values begin to orientate towards the care and development of teachers so that they get over the five year hurdle by which time so many leave the profession, scarred and burnt out.
In the past ten years, we have seen more technology being used in the classroom across the board. In many ways, the use of technology has allowed teachers to inspire school children from different perspectives. It has increased the attention span of children worldwide, using a wide array of multimedia content and tech to bring even the most mundane topics to life.
Current EdTech innovations are largely centred around the better learning of school children. However, in light of damning statistics that suggest only one in three newly qualified teachers (NQT’s) will stay in the education system after five years in the profession (Gov UK). Institutions should now be looking to implement innovative technologies that will act as a catalyst to quicken teacher training and development and give them the support they need to cement their skills and confidence.
Teachers’ needs must be at the forefront of the new era of EdTech innovation that can streamline lesson reviews , knowledge sharing and remote access that enables long-distance mentoring where previously it wasn’t possible.
Innovation can be the driver that steers the education industry into a new age of teacher satisfaction. Technological development will allow teachers to practice more effective and efficient development programs. Teachers can be expected to complete all their standard job functions, while also learning from their own practices at the same time, which is not possible most of the time.
Learning from yourself
In almost every other profession, you are expected to learn from previous experiences. Why should this change for the people who are educating the next generation? We must use EdTech to ensure that teachers are able to analyse and proactively use evidence to support their teaching methods. There are companies within the education technology sector using video footage and experienced teachers to mentor NQTs on their style of teaching, showing them where to look rather than what to see by allowing them to review their own lessons and the teaching performance, as well as the impact on students within the classroom – including those whom the teacher was not observing at the time.
Part of the focus of this technology is to target teachers’ Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
This approach is important as it allows the NQT to steer their development to their exact needs, and allows mentors to guide where they need to analyse and recognise shortcomings in their own teaching practice. This analysis and coaching is used across numerous industries but is especially prevalent in retail and sports. This is how businesses continue to work and perform at an optimum standard, whilst ensuring those who are motivated to improve and better themselves are provided innovative technology as the vehicle to do so.
As the education industry looks to put teachers at the forefront of its development, it is important that these measures are taken to proactively coach those within the first five years of their career. However, in addition to Damian Hinds’ statement that NQT’s within the first five years of their career, should be targeted for this sort of coaching, such advancements in technology should not only be made to cater to them.
For NQTs, the presence of these technologies will be something they have trained with, however, for seasoned professionals, there will be a slight learning curve. There is a chance that those who have had lengthy careers without the influence of such tech might become stuck in their ways and may need to see for themselves how such technologies can be used empathetically rather than critically to allow them to improve themselves, rather than be dictated to.
The use of this technology can be a benefit to both the teachers and the ones judging them. Outdated practices such as teacher reviews can be modernised and streamlined through the use of video-led lesson observations. This significantly streamlines the process, and is in many cases, far more reflective of a teacher’s ability to control a classroom.
In essence, if the education industry sets upon a path to build innovate around the needs of teachers, the standard of education for both children and teachers can only improve. This investment in teachers will help to attract the talent that the education industry requires, and push both primary and secondary teaching back to the top of the ‘desirable jobs’ list.