The look on my face: a grimace of incredulity with a soupcon of rictus smile for the sake of politeness.
I had been teaching for a year in Prague and, on entering my second year, discovered that my primary colleagues were following their classes into the next yeargroup.
“You’re teaching the same class for two years?” I asked, with no little surprise. To which my colleague responded: “I’ll be teaching them for the next four years, until they leave the primary section.” Cue my incredulous, rictus smile.
“Oh.” I replied, slowly ungritting my smile.
The thought, oh be perished, that I should have to endure the same foibles for FIVE YEARS, let alone one or two!
However, after another year or so, I came to appreciate that there might be some benefits in spending such a long period of time with the same group of kids. Continuity, for one, was much less of an issue: your high expectations continue from one year to the next unimpeded. Social issues can’t be ignored or dealt with superficially; you are, after all, going to be left with the consequences of whatever you do for a very long time.
But, most crucially, those niggling EduBotches – the false thresholds in learning – can’t be done with. You can’t fob children off with a ‘rule’ that buys them to the end of the year, and wave ‘hello’ to them the next year with a new rule for a new test.
That said, the benefits of such a change to the UK system could be more than eclipsed by the cost of the change: it’s not an idea that most would readily accept, and may make too great demands on too many teachers. But perhaps we might simply teach ‘as if’ we were going to have our charges for five years. No long grass to kick anything into.
I ask you this: how might your practice change if you had your students for five years and not one or two?
Well, why not just do that?