'Teachers should give equal time to each student'

Spending too much time with your favourite students means their classmates miss out, writes Tom Starkey

Tom Starkey

Teachers should give each pupil an equal amount of time, Tom Starkey says

Although it can sometimes be a bit of a task, I try to give the learners in my class as close to an equal proportion of my time during a lesson as I can. It’s not the easiest of things to do given that it’s often the case that my room can be full to the rafters and some of the folk in it may need a little bit more help than others.

But even so, I always think that it’s a good idea to try and get around everyone to a greater or lesser extent and try and touch base at least.

It also means that you’re not inadvertently spending too much time with your favourites. (Yeah, I’m sorry, anyone who says that they don’t have favourites is blatantly lying to you…or they’re dead inside. One of the two.)

And, me not being perfect (still your gasp of disbelief dear reader, ‘tis true), I sometimes don’t get it completely dead on. I sometimes overlook the quiet ones or don’t give enough of my time to those who are actually struggling, or I can focus a little too much on the shining stars.

Golden nugget of wisdom

But to my credit, I usually catch myself before too long and try and course-correct to make sure that everyone gets their fair share of luscious teaching goodness.

Now, I’m not a manager nor part of a leadership team. Never have been, never will be. Don’t have the stuff. Wouldn’t know what aisle to go down to buy the stuff.

But that doesn’t mean I’m above chucking a golden nugget of wisdom at them every now and again, so seeing as some damn fool gave me this blog, this is what I’m going to do. I mean, it’s only fair. That lot pop into my room once in a blue moon and let me know what’s what. So here we go.

What is true in the classroom is true in the college. Some are huge organisations with numerous areas and departments.

Concerted effort

Like the classroom, there has to be a concerted effort to keep track; make sure that everyone gets their fair share of time and attention – even those that are just chugging along. Departments that are struggling should get the extra help that they need, even if they’re not the flavour of the month or someone’s pet project.

Quiet unassuming departments that are often passed by for praise should be given the same amount of focus as anywhere else. Leaders should seek to do this as a conscious decision, as anything less means a greater chance of focusing solely on the favourites. Because we, as humans, have a tendency to do this.

I think what’s fair in the classroom should be reflected in what is fair in the college. Making sure that there is an attempt at an even spread of time and care across all areas is one of the ways we can ensure that fairness in what we practise, not just in what we teach.

Tom Starkey teaches English at a college in the North of England

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