I’m sitting here next to my wife. We are both full-time teachers.
I told her about the way I responded to an interview question about meetings recently. I told her that I has said that leaders should always remember this fact when about to call a meeting – “I am about to take time away from people”. I told her that I has said that leaders should try to ensure the two following things:
- They, themselves, are very sure that the meeting is necessary and timely.
- That the participants at the meeting are totally aware of why the meeting is important and why their attendance is crucial
And then… guess what we find ourselves sitting here doing at 8:30pm on a Tuesday night, just like all of our colleagues. That’s right. Writing reports.
This process will take us a month. We will all spend a minimum of two to three hours per student. We will work very hard not only during the day, but also at night. It is beyond doubt that we will be less effective teachers – for two months of the school year. It is beyond question that learning can only suffer. It is a fact that vast quantities of paper will be used.
So. If we are going to take away so much time from teachers’ lives, shouldn’t there be a similar level of clarity? Consider the following:
- Are reports actually necessary two (or more) times a year?
- What is the input: output bias in terms of time? 3 hours per student of writing: 5 minutes of reading?
- Has anyone actually studied the declining quality of learning during report-writing time?
- What do parents actually do with them? Can we be so sure they really want them?
- Has anyone calculated the financial and environmental cost of all the paper?
If I sat here for the next two minutes and used at least 6% of my mental capacity I could write at least 10 more creative, innovative, empowering, inclusive ways to give educational feedback to parents and students than the reports most of us find ourselves trudging through every year.
Why do we do it? Um… because we have to. Errr… because we’ve always done it.
C’mon. If we used the same response every time we questioned the way things are done in education we’d be… well, you know what we’d be doing.
So. Who has the guts? Which school will remove some reports and replace them with something better and less time-consuming? There must be somebody out there with the cojones to rid us of this utter pointless formality. Give me hope!!!