There was a flurry of Twitter activity this week with the inaugural conference of the Chartered College of Teaching. Much of the traffic came from within the QEII Conference Centre and some came from those not in attendance.
Predictably however many of these tweets from non-attendees, including some from the other side of the globe, were cynical, negative and sneering in tone. The point of contention here? That #collectivevoice began with some community singing.
Pure marketing genius!
Community singing is something that will be familiar to most teachers, particularly in the primary phase. Anyone who has mumbled their way through ‘All things Bright and Beautiful‘ or ‘Go tell it on the Mountain‘may have felt a little self-conscious at their flat, low and tuneless efforts. However many of us are fans of the beautiful game who have unashamedly belted out ‘I’m forever blowing bubbles‘, ‘You’ll never walk alone‘ or ‘Niall Quinn’s Disco Pants‘. Community singing is all about togetherness, belonging and ‘taking ownership’ of the situation.
However cringeworthy it may have seemed to some participants, the singing was aimed at bringing everyone together at the start of the conference. Furthermore it drew attention to the Chartered College through the social media platform as it began its role as a body to promote the professionalism of teaching professionals.
We all leave our teacher training institution with a level of skill and knowledge that enables us to teach. CPD, subject leader conferences, leadership courses and further academic study promote and develop our skills and knowledge. Do they however promote that third vital element of professionalism?
Does professional behaviour receive any more than a passing mention in initial teacher training? We can recall a mention of ‘be aware of the policies of the school’ before a teaching practice began but little else beyond that.
Are we familiar with eye-rolling during staff meetings? With smirks and sniggers during INSET being delivered by a visiting speaker? With the voice that rudely interrupts the person leading the session- thirteen times in an hour, the longest interjection being over eleven minutes- is one we have heard.
Discussions that can be overheard because the door is open? Staffroom cliques? Inappropriate language in emails? Berating colleagues in public?
How about the termly meeting organised by the LA where the delegate from one particular school would arrive ten minutes late every time, and instead of offering his apologies would shower the tables with chocolates and sweets to the clear annoyance of the person leading. ‘Oh isn’t he a character!’ announced one attendee. ‘No, he’s an egotistical …..’ muttered another after three years of this each term, loud enough for the table to hear, followed by barely suppressed giggles.
Rudeness is clearly unprofessional. Egotistical and attention seeking behaviour isn’t either. Though the above incidents may be isolated, they will be in the experience of many.
Use of social media by teachers as we have discussed before is useful for professional contacts, advice and support. There is often healthy debate and discussion but also there can be a very negative side.
Is it professional to berate another teacher for their opinion? Is it appropriate to criticise someone for being ‘progressive’, or ‘traditional’? Is it professional to block someone then announcing it for all to see? Is the act of blocking, other than for obvious abuse, professional in itself, censoring and silencing a voice in your timeline?
Is it professional to be critical of the conduct of a meeting which you haven’t attended?
The voice of the late, great Steve Jobs speaks volumes.
The Chartered College of Teaching is there to promote professionalism and the profession.
And Dame Alison, if you are reading this, if you really want a social media reaction to your next meeting, rather than have everyone singing, make them do Country Dancing!