Teacher David Buckley, writing in the Guardian's education supplement yesterday, tells the rather sad story of how he visited the Facebook site called 'The Dave Buckley Appreciation Society' and got a bit of a shock. Perhaps we could have done more to warn him.
He found himself described as patronising, disorganised with ill-fitting shirts and coffee stains on his clothes. This appears to have come as a shock to him after thirty five years of teaching.
He's had the site closed down, arguing rightly, that he signed up for scrutiny from a small audience not an international one. Fair point.
My concern is this. How did he fail to notice his standards slipping over thirty five years? What systems were in place to allow that small audience to gently let him know these things. Not for nothing does the old (therefore non-inclusive) bumper sticker say, 'Ask a teenager while he still knows everything.' Anyway, did his peers not notice the stains?
In another piece in the same paper Peter Wilby profiles Ruth Miskin, phonics champion, who says that her choices in later life were limited by teachers not intervening to pull her back when she opted out of learning. Her photo suggests she is not of a very different age to me. I can think of no intervention by a teacher at my school that made, or would have made, the slightest difference to me. At school meaningful contact with teachers outside lessons was non-existent. If bollocked I simple stood through it and waited for it to end, then took no remedial action. I was far more bothered by peer recognition. I learnt in lessons from teachers; not outside.
My own motivation to behaviour correction, discovered after I left school and through a church youth group, was the only thing that worked.
Facebook sites for appreciating teachers may contain demotivating content but the useful parallel, 360 degree feedback, is to be encouraged. If you are working with people, find out how to find out what they think of you.
Read David's piece here and Peter's here.