Learning to Teach English in the Secondary School: A Companion to School Experience

By Jon Davison; Jane Dowson | Go to book overview
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Teaching English: critical practice

Jon Davison and Jane Dowson


INTRODUCTION

The vast majority of teachers reported a high level of job satisfaction. Inevitably there were some who found the job unsatisfactory. Some of these, in particular, had little capacity for self-appraisal and consequently for self-improvement…. Some…had not come to terms with the time commitment of the job…. New teachers who felt that they could keep abreast of the work, and who were well matched to their posts, found the job rewarding…. Most were able to evaluate their own work accurately and to identify strengths and weaknesses.

(OFSTED, 1993, paras 2.28, 2.29)

The above quotations from an OFSTED survey of newly qualified teachers identify the tension experienced by most at the beginning of their ITE course and work as secondary teachers: teaching their subject and fulfilling the other roles of teaching can be rewarding but there is a cost in terms of time and energy. The statements also identify one key to job satisfaction: self-evaluation. The term 'critical practice' indicates the two factors which are central to successful development as a teacher: the crucial role of school experience and the ability to reflect on that experience. With English teaching it is particularly crucial to develop your own principles by which you can set targets and evaluate yourself in relation to these targets because otherwise you can find yourself driven to please others who may have conflicting criteria; it is this, often unconscious drive to please or satisfy competing demands which produces the confusion and self-doubt which are common during initial teacher education. For example, you will be wanting to meet the needs and interests of pupils, the differing expectations of parents, the varying ideals and methods of class teachers; the professional tutor in school; the requirements of an OFSTED inspection; college or university directives and guidance; criteria for assignments and the attainment of standards.

-284-

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