Great Teacher Leaps Tall Buildings: the Sutton Trust Report in the Wrong Hands

From Hero to Zero: Is the definition of "Great Teacher" also its demise?
From Hero to Zero: Is the definition of “Great Teacher” also its demise?

Reading the Sutton Trust Report on what makes a great teacher is not unlike reading about the exploits of a superhero in a Marvel comic: “A great teacher has deep content knowledge, uses effective questioning and can leap tall buildings.”

With each paragraph I’m thinking “Wow, I wish I could do that”.

It is a fine summary and for me it could function as a checklist against which I gradually improve my practice. However, my concern is how this report might be used by administrators to judge quality of practice especially with regard to performance related pay.

To be a great teacher as specified in the report is an aspiration for any teacher with an ounce of self-esteem, but like our students we are on our own learning journey. It would not shock me to see some mean-minded politician take this report, scratch out “great” with his Mont Blanc and write “satisfactory” – all in the name of high expectations.

In the mid-twentieth century, Superman was regarded by young boys as something incredible, but now his exploits are barely enough to sustain his franchise. “Great teacher”, in the hands of a greedy political orthodoxy, could quickly share the same fate.

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