1 Becoming aware of areas for improvement

Your teachers will have obvious strengths but they will also have areas where they could improve. It is important to recognise and acknowledge the good performance of teachers – later in this unit you will do an activity to specifically address this. First, however, the focus is on tackling under-performance. This is where teachers are not employing the full range of skills, knowledge and behaviours associated with being an excellent teacher. To help you start thinking about this, read the case study below and complete the activity that follows it.

Case Study 1 Mr Prasad’s class’s exam results

The results of the first set of class tests of all subjects had come in. The school leader, Mr Kapur, sat with Mrs Agarwal, the most meticulous teacher to whom he had assigned responsibility for analysing exam and test results.

‘As usual,’ said Mrs Agarwal rather dramatically, ‘the students have performed really badly in science. I am sure this batch is going to bring down the results of the school!’

Mr Kapur was puzzled. He had taught these students in the previous year and had found they responded very well to challenge. The results did not match his memory of their capability.

‘Is it all the science subjects?’ he asked.

Mrs Agarwal studied his analysis in silence and then, looking up with a wry smile, said: ‘You’re a genius – it’s just biology. That’s Mr Prasad’s subject. I don’t think they like him too much. For one, he draws the most intricate diagrams with a beautifully steady hand and expects the students to copy it exactly in the same way. And of course, he still uses a foot-long scale to point at the labels!’

Mr Kapur nodded without responding. He certainly was not going to get pulled into discussing other teachers in the school.

‘Thank you, Mrs Agarwal. Now let’s look at their results in the social sciences,’ was all he said.

Activity 1: Recognising issues related to teacher’s performance

Mr Kapur used student results to help him to identify a teacher’s under-performance. Think about the ways that you might become aware of a teacher’s under-performance in your school. Write down three or four ideas in your Learning Diary.

In this case Mr Kapur was able to make links between poor results and teacher performance. There would not always be such direct links and it is important to look at other possible factors (e.g. illness, lack of access to textbooks, poor attendance patterns).

Every situation is unique, but here are some indicators that might suggest teacher performance issues:

  • student absence is higher in one class
  • students are frequently unruly in one class
  • parents are unhappy about their child’s progress in one class
  • students in a particular class do not appear to be progressing as well as expected
  • teachers in the class above complain about the low level of attainment of one class
  • students appear to be progressing less well in some subjects than in others.

What school leaders can learn in this unit

2 Gathering evidence of performance