Ask a teacher

27th July 2007 at 01:00
The teacher who covers my class for my PPA time seems to have been transported directly from Victorian England. The children are forced to work in silence, cannot move from their seats and must fold their arms and look at the teacher the whole time. They have complained to me that they are forced to stand if they make a number of mistakes in their work. What should I do?

Nick, Kent

A Your colleague's teaching methods appear to be not merely traditional but archaic and, more to the point, ineffective. This should already have been picked up and dealt with in observations. Given that it hasn't (yet), you will be doing your colleague a favour by informal intervention. But the problem will be to convince her that this style doesn't work. This won't be easy because you are probably working to two different sets of success criteria, and her set (a quiet classroom, subdued children) is manifestly being met. Linda, Worthing

A I suspect there is a fundamental incompatibility between your teaching styles and your educational philosophies. It could be a case of "this classroom isn't big enough for the two of us", and your colleague will need to be nudged towards the exit. But fear not for her: she will be snapped up and lauded in the private school sector, where she will be no longer a square peg in a round hole. Kevin, Cheltenham

A Although such a strict regime might be the complete antithesis to the way you normally work, at least it is not complete chaos and learning is taking place. Although some pupils may complain bitterly, others might even enjoy the opportunity to work in such an orderly way. During their lives they will have to learn to adapt to different people, and this is a good start. Anne, Tunbridge Wells

A It is vitally important that there is a consistency of approach. This situation is not acceptable and needs to be addressed. Discuss it with your headteacher or line manager to plan ahead. Why not invite this teacher into your class to see your approach and work together? If this fails, then find someone else John, Wigton

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