So after a long search, Sir Michael Wilshaw is grasping education’s poisoned chalice and taking the role of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools.
And his opening salvo has already begun. Following the lead of the government white paper it’s not just ‘coasting schools’ that are a target, but ‘coasting teachers’ too.
Personally, I dislike the label ‘coasting’. It seems to imply a complete lack of care, whereas I’m sure it’s much more the case that with all the personal and time pressures of teaching some can just get stuck into a bit of a rut.
Sir Michael makes the point that the ‘coasting’ teachers can often be hard to identify. So it got me thinking what is the real difference that makes a teacher truly outstanding?
Well obviously there are a whole range of professional standards for teachers that try to answer that question, and you could argue as to extent they match what your vision of an Outstanding teacher is.
But for me I think the real difference is the willingness to experiment, to try new things, to learn from them and do them better next time.
To do that you have to open yourself up to new ideas, which is one of the great things about Twitter. It would be hard to find another group of teachers as passionate about trying new things and exposing themselves to new ideas and technologies.
‘Exposing yourself’ is quite a good description – because when you’re trying new things you can be a bit exposed. What if it doesn’t work? But the truly excellent teachers take this in their stride.
There is something scientific even in the most creative of teachers. Through that iterative process of test, implement, evaluate eventually you’ll reach teaching nirvana.