Follow the thread

4th February 2005 at 00:00
Bill Hicks takes a weekly look at the hot topics in the TES chatrooms

The TES Staffroom allows British teachers to see themselves as others see them - though be warned, the perceptions are not always flattering.

Look, for example, in the Overseas Trained Teachers' forum, where professionals from all over the world, lured to the UK during the recent recruitment crises, compare notes on their hosts.

Scout finch from Australia is disillusioned. "After one term in England I am tired of being treated badly by the staff at my school. I am annoyed that my 10 years' experience does not make me 'qualified' to teach in this country. I am furious that my classes consist entirely of bottom sets of Year 9s and 10s, while English NQTs are given A-level classes."

BandH chips in about a teacher from New Zealand. "She brought all kinds of resources with her. She was scoffed at by the 'long term teachers', told it wouldn't work etc. She left before Christmas. Guess what - they're now starting to use some of her things, singing the praises of the materials and resources and taking full credit for it! " Historically, the teaching assistants' forum has been a war zone. Whenever TAs and LSAs have got together to discuss their ascendant status in the classroom, in would burst hit squads of embittered teachers, pouring scorn on their aspirations. But the climate has improved. Two years ago, the thread "correcting the teacher" would have provoked a blizzard of abuse from posters with their QTSs pinned to their chests like campaign medals.

Now we have jan234 asking: "Do you ever correct the teacher when they make spelling mistakes, mispronounce words or use the wrong word altogether?"

The temerity of it!

Others follow suit. It's a surprising 24 hours before Mrs Meatloaf, a known TA-baiter, wades in with: "Good grief! Maybe if you had undertaken the amount of work needed to get a teaching degree, you would be in a position to correct the teacher."

But Mrs Meatloaf is alone. Teachers are queuing up to testify how marvellous their TAs are. Like Petite Joueuse. "I love my TA. I couldn't do my job without her. Sometimes she has to correct me, but only because she sees something I've missed."

LSA1, with a more tactful approach, and so as not to damage the pedagogue's fragile reputation, has to "whisper to one of the kids (brightest one I can get to easily) and suggest that a word may be wrong. They are only too happy to point this out."

Peace and love, brothers and sisters!

Bill Hicks is editor of the TES website

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