I’m ploughing my way through the PDRs that I have to do (Performance and Development Reviews). Our company expects staff to engage in a PDR every year. A meeting is held at which targets are set, then teachers spend time working on their targets before a final meeting towards the end of the year when the progress made is assessed. A commin enough routine, but I notice that I am using words like ploughing through and have to.
They are hugely time-consuming. As well as the meetings themselves, time is required for typing up the notes of the meeting and even just trying to shoehorn the meetings into the rest of the job takes time. There have been varying levels of evidence that the time I spend preparing for the meetings is matched by the time spent by the teachers preparing for them. I sometimes wonder whether or not trying to create a more developmental atmosphere in the staffroom might not be too much of a Sisyphean task. If this blog had any readers, perhaps they would offer their perspectives?
There has been a desert of teacher development over the last few years for one reason or another. In my darkest moments, I wonder if the desertification started with my appointment to the post, but I like to think (but have no evidence to help me demonstrate) that I have been proactive in pushing the development side. But years of reliance upon a casualised workforce which is paid – at least from their perspective- to come in, teach, leave and which does not have the opportunity to form as a team has had an effect.
There is development going on – some people are pursuing postgraduate qualifications- but it is limited. We have always paid for people to go to IATEFL – the surprise is that nobody ever takes up the offer. We subscribe to journals that go unread. A number of developmental sessions are available through both internal and external sources, but the vast majority show no interest.
I read recently that this is typical of organisations where development is regarded as a secondary part of the main job. There was an implicit criticism of the workplace rather than the non-developing teachers. That encouraged me to change the focus of my despair and frustration. My target now is to create an environment where development is seen as a primary responsibility of the job. It is my hop that if I pull this off, competition for the developmental opportunities will be fierce and that if you want to find a teacher out of class, the library will be the second place you look after the staffroom.