Destructive criticism

17th January 2003 at 00:00
I am a part-time teacher who is dedicated to the welfare of my students. At a recent review the quality of my work was brought into question. I am quite used to constructive reviews but this was destructive. I was presented with a catalogue of faults ranging from inapproachability to poorly designed handouts; my contract was not to be renewed. My confidence is at an all-time low. A number of parents have contacted me about my departure and were surprised by what had unfolded. Their children seem to contradict everything said by the college. What do I do now?

First you have to keep going. Despite guidelines and consensus on good teaching practice there will always be those who disagree with methods, although you don't sound like you were doing anything radical or irresponsible. Getting handouts right takes practice and any teacher worth their salt should continually gauge their effectiveness and be prepared to amend if necessary. The college's actions are certainly irresponsible. Teaching is not an easy job and few of us have reached the point of being "very good" or "excellent". We must support each other and share experiences to improve through community not isolation. You will find a college with this approach. Those colleges who don't support staff will eventually fall foul of the system.

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