Different approaches to delivering lessons during the Covid pandemic have challenged schools’ preconceived ideas as to “what is the perfect lesson?”, says the new president of the NASUWT teaching union.
Phil Kemp, a teacher of 35 years from North Tyneside, says the pandemic has brought about several years' worth of technological advances in schools in a single year, and says he hopes the “samey” and “uniform” way in which lessons were delivered pre-pandemic will now give way to classrooms in which teachers have more freedom in styles of delivery.
Speaking exclusively to Tes (in the video below), Mr Kemp says: “When I joined the profession 30-odd years ago, and for the first probably 20 or 25 years of my career, the teacher was king in the classroom – king or whatever you want to call them.
"They ruled the roost and they decided how best to deliver something [and] I think the profession has lost that a little bit over the last 15 or 16 years on this almost desperation to decide what is the perfect lesson.”
Covid and schools: Restoring teacher autonomy
He adds: “I think the delivery of lessons was becoming a bit samey. There was that same expectation around, you know, you’re going to use a PowerPoint presentation or you’re going to do this and you’re going to do that, and it didn’t matter whether it was maths, English or science or geography - it was going to be delivered in that uniform way.
"And I hope [what we’ve learned in the past year] takes that out and moves towards …different styles and different approaches, allowing teachers to be more of a decision-maker in the classroom…and to think, ‘That’s the best way I think that can be delivered.'"
And Mr Kemp now says he hopes schools will turn to “colleagues out there who are fantastic with technology” to advise not just on new ways of delivering lessons but also on reducing teacher workload, including planning, marking and feedback.
Mr Kemp is profiled in this week’s Tes magazine, the full interview for which can be watched below. In the video, he describes high levels of academy boss pay as "obscene" and talks about the soft skills required in his job in charge of an alternative=provision unit in North Tyneside.
He says: “This year …has thrown up some key questions…it’s certainly thrown up the issue of 'what is a perfect lesson?'. I think about a year ago if you went to most schools they’d probably give you a decent description of what the perfect lesson was…I think the basics would be exactly the same, and I think now that’s probably up in the air after our experiences this year.
“I think we’re almost at a crossroads of [asking ourselves], 'Where can all those things we’ve learned in the last year fit into a "normal" - and I say normal in inverted commas – classroom-type experience?' Because we don’t know whether there’s going to be another rise in infection or another pandemic."