Teachers' work should be respected and valued more, a leading figure in international education research has said.
Dirk Hastedt, executive director of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, told Tes: "We need to get a different perspective on teachers and really respect the excellent work that they do. I really wish that this would change.”
His comments come with the results of one of the IEA's flagship reports, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, about to be released.
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Speaking to Tes, Dr Hastedt acknowledged that, for teachers, passion and dedication often meant a skewed work-life balance.
He said: “If teachers want to do a good job, it’s hard. Very hard.”
Pressed on what could help them, he mentioned time, reputation and professional development.
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“We make all these teachers look up things, stand in front of a copy machine, and copy things – if someone did that with highly skilled people, like teachers are, in the IEA I would have a word with them, because it’s not the best use of resources."
Dr Hastedt also said there should be time for professional development. In Singapore, which finished top in the last Timss study and where he visited schools and was highly impressed by them, Dr Hastedt reported that every teacher was given 100 hours for professional development per year.
He said: “In Germany, teachers have two days more or less per year of teacher development. This is so different. We need to give them more time to do a good job."
On reputation, Dr Hastedt said: “We should recognise their work more, and [that] should be shown in how we treat them. It’s simple things: if I go in a teacher's office and there is this cheap furniture and things are broken, it gives an impression that this person is not valued, so why should I value them? I think this must change."
Dr Hastedt recalled the influence that one teacher had on his early life.
“I am from a middle-income family," he said. "Both of my parents didn’t study: my father was a carpenter and my mother was a secretary, so I went to school and when it came to the end of primary education, I wanted to stay there and do middle school.”
But his form teacher insisted he go to gymnasium, which is the pathway German children choose if they want to go to university.
He said: “Without my teacher – she encouraged me and my parents to go to gymnasium – I would have never done that. I wanted to stay with my friends.
“She was my homeroom teacher. She was amazing. Definitely very influential in my life.”