Researched and Written by David Watters
CONFLICT AND POOR PERFORMANCE
A member of staff who is now no longer with the department was not fulfilling his role adequately in a number of ways.
His job required the writing of Assignment Briefs (following Edexcel and department guidelines) and for the timely assessment of units covered. Specific and varied evidence from each student was and is required for each unit to be successfully awarded to the learners, yet the tutor concerned had no grasp of this and instead taught general workshops which didn’t allow the opportunity to methodically gather the required data (evidence).
The tutor was new to teaching, having only recently graduated from drama school. He developed close relationships with students and was well liked. Unfortunately this was not helpful when it came to helping the students achieve the required grades in the units being taught.
Teaching fulltime myself, I had little opportunity to observe the tutor but my initial concern was that Assignment Briefs were not accurate and omitted the required detail. Tasks were not aligned to Grading Criteria and some criteria were ignored completely.
Students also began to complain that all they seemed to do was “play” theatre games and whilst I admit these serve a purpose, it is important to use games that relate directly to the objectives of the unit and to the specific lesson (as a warm-up or introduction to the subject).
Help and Support Offered
Prior to the tutor taking his first class, I had a meeting to discuss his understanding of the role, his knowledge and experience of the BTEC Specification and guidelines for assigning and assessing.
Gaps in knowledge were evident so I provided samples of Assignment Briefs which could be adapted. Paper copies and emailed templates were provided.
The first AB (Assignment Brief) was poorly drafted and amendments were suggested. I did, in fact, practically write the brief but wanted the tutor to understand the process.
The same scenario was repeated and it became evident that I was not communicating the seriousness of the situation. I was fairly new to my role at this time and perhaps was not as confident in confronting poor performance in a colleague. Whatever the reason, it became clear that my views were being dismissed.
Other areas of poor performance with this tutor were that, even after AB’s were written, they would not be followed and this led to assessment dates being missed. This created confusion amongst students and meant that in this discipline they were falling behind.
I held a further staff training session with all tutors and explained the importance of accuracy in AB’s and the necessity to cover units within a scheduled timescale. We looked at and discussed the AB Checklist and talked of how this related to expectations of our Internal Verification System and to External Verification, how inadequate paperwork could impact on the success of the students and that a consistently clear system would positively impact on the learners ability to remain focussed and to achieve.
The tutor also had difficulty in occupying all students and would focus on those easy to teach. He had no understanding of different learning styles or tactics to offer engagement to those with particular learning needs.
The same was also true of another tutor; something that I had observed during a team teaching lesson.
I called a staff meeting to address this and was met with an extremely negative response. Both tutors seemed dismissive of the less able or more challenging students. I offered suggested strategies for inclusive teaching and contextualised the learning at GCC as being different to HE (specifically drama schools) where students are more readily engaged in the work.
One tutor was receptive to this and asked relevant questions and has since developed as a more understanding and supportive tutor. The same cannot be said of the other tutor who would leave students unattended and unoccupied when focussing on individual students with whom he had an affinity.
I would like to say that the situation was resolved in a positive way but the tutor left to take a performing job and has since been replaced. I do feel that I did all that I could to understand the tutor’s needs, to offer support and supervision and to give guidance in a non-patronizing and clear way.
Had I the opportunity, and with greater confidence in myself as a leader, I would have urged management to place the tutor on a formal training day at Edexcel and perhaps some shadowing or supervision of learning support staff.
If improvement was still not evident I would doubt the tutor’s ability to embrace the role and would suggest management observe his lessons, review his AB’s and discuss his ability to fulfil his obligations.