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What Teachers Tapped This Week #16 - 15th January 2018

15 January 2018

Oh hi! It’s Monday, again. How did that happen?

Meme Monday GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

This week we’ve been looking at trends around the way teachers use their holidays, and people have been getting very upset on social media.

Oh, and we broke the 1,500 users barrier several time. THIS IS EXCITING! We’re getting closer to doing even cooler analysis. ?

Ok, results…

1.The Out-of-Office Debacle

It all began with the fact that when it comes to out-of-office replies on email there is a big divide between teachers.

Only 5% of teachers said they left an out-of-office reply on their emails.

Among those who didn’t, 44% said they ignore emails while the other 50% say they check their emails. (And of the 5% who left an out-of-office, most leave a message stating when they are coming back – so we can put them in with the 44%).

Hence, there is a divide: almost half of teachers check emails over holidays and half don’t.

This wouldn’t be so bad but some people on the two sides seem mad at each other. When the results were released, teachers who don’t check their emails took to social media, concerned that so many teachers were online in the holidays.

But the frequent-checker group hit back with an ‘ISN’T IT MY CHOICE’ sentiment. Some said it helped control their anxiety, as they knew what they would be returning to. Others said a fortnight’s worth of email was too much to weed through on the first day back. Another group said they use their work email to communicate with their friends or have signed-up to subscription emails, hence they used it for personal reasons.

What became clear is that few schools appear to have an explicit policy or expectation and that what feels suitable for one group can make another group nervous. Some teachers who wanted to take time away from their emails entirely ended up feeling like they had to check in, because others were, and this was building resentment.

Without wishing to get too self-help on the job, this does show that talking is important in relationships. Colleagues need to know their expectations. It may be difficult to accept that something one person is doing for genuinely positive reasons is making someone else feel bad. And it may not mean that anyone needs to change. But teachers need to talk about these aspects of their workload as, in the past, we’ve found that people who feel expectations are unclear or are unrealistic are more likely to have low morale or to be off ill.

One way to raise with your team is that in France last year, workers got the legal right not to check emails when away from the workplace. This may not work for your colleagues, but it’s maybe worth discussing before the next half-term break.

2. Piag-Who?

A common complaint about teachers who are training on-the-job via new routes, such as School Direct, is that they don’t learn enough child development theory compared to trainees who did more traditional university PGCEs. But is it true?

We decided to ask a basic question about child development. If you know this area, you will usually know the following stages of cognitive development were developed by Piaget.

Here is the result:

But did this change depending on the routes into teaching that people took?

Nope! It didn’t seem to make much difference. The scale on this graph is enlarged, so 42% looks a lot lower than 46%, but there’s only a 4% difference in theoretical knowledge between each of the training routes.

Plus, teachers who trained through undergraduate 4-year routes, and who are usually considered to have the highest grasp of theory, had the lowest scores!

Why would this be? Could it be related to people forgetting over time?

Apparently not!

Teachers who gained QTS before 1985 were most likely to identify Piaget correctly!

Since then, there has been a steady drop-off. Suggesting the real distinction may be between younger and older teachers, rather than those on different training routes.

Even more interesting: the small group of Teacher Tapp users who don’t have QTS were more likely to identify the correct theorist than those who trained between 2008 and 2013. So much for all that theoretical knowledge eh? ?

3. ‘Did you get a nice rest over Christmas’?

Over the holidays a few teachers got in touch asking if we could use Teacher Tapp to find out how much work is carried out during the holidays.

But first, we had a bigger nut to crack. Lots of teachers said they were unwell during the holidays. Alex, our own team member, has been laid up with a bad version of the flu.

So before we get to working days, how many teachers were unwell over the Chrismas holiday?

The data shows around half of teachers were unwell during the Christmas holidays. If these numbers are the same each year, and split evenly across the population, that would mean teachers could expect to be sick every other Christmas! ?

Of course, it might be that some teachers are more susceptible to colds. As we move forward with Teacher Tapp we will be able to see if that’s the case.

In terms of workload, how well did teachers do?

Only 21% of teachers did no work at all. 

38% did 3 or more days – with one in 20 teachers saying they worked over 7 days of the Christmas holiday.

As with the out-of-office question, this is divisive. If some teachers are putting in an extra week in the holidays, does that mean the job isn’t manageable within term-time? Does it mean they prefer to spread work out so they can work shorter hours during term-time?

We need to do more analysis to see if this is about a group that is chronically overworking (and why) or if the extra time in the holidays evens out at a later point.

4. Pushy Primary Parents

A secondary school teacher recently sent a private message to us after hearing the story of a colleague who was publicly yelled at by a parent. The incident was unpleasant and he wondered how common it was within the profession.

More than half of teachers have been yelled at by a parent, and an additional 38% say they know another teacher who experienced it.

When we looked, primary teachers are more likely to be yelled at by a parent than those in secondary schools. In part, this distinction is likely due to parents knowing the teacher of their primary-aged pupil better, and the greater accessibility of primary teachers (they are often more easily contactable by phone or on a visit).

Yet that high figure of primary teachers abused by parents – 71%! – shows how commonly this happens and how primary schools need supportive processes to help teachers when faced with such behaviour.

5. Bye, bye Justine Greening

A benefit of Teacher Tapp is that we try and keep you up-to-date on the latest education policy changes. Last week we asked a question about Justine Greening, who resigned as education secretary.

Around half of teachers were sad to see Greening go (48%) but a further 31% said they ‘didn’t know’ if they were sad – suggesting she hasn’t made an impression on a third of people in the classroom.

6. Energy Drinks

More famous among Teacher Tappers is bish-bash-bosh chef Jamie Oliver, who last week asked the government to ban energy drinks for under 16s.

Definitions of ‘energy drinks’ can be difficult (as anyone who has tried to ban them in school has probably worked out) but given that many schools now swoop bottles of Boost from kids’ hands at the gate, why couldn’t the government just ban them altogether?

Teachers were overwhelmingly in favour – 93% felt the sale of energy drinks ought to be banned.

It would be a slam-dunk popular policy for new education secretary Damian Hinds. We suspect the soft-drinks industry may be less pleased.

Teachers also may need to take a look at their own energy-boosting habits too!

Coffee Day GIF by Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Find & Share on GIPHY

7. As ever, we learned that you really love our daily tips, so here are the links for last week:

Framework for nudge behaviours

Are teachers who dislike group work using it wrong?

Dealing with email mountain

Andy’s story

What can we infer from an exercise book?

The ethics of randomised controlled trials

Right folks – over and out for another week…

In the meantime, please keep sharing what we are doing with colleagues so they can sign up too.

We’ve a powerpoint slide (with script), a PDF, and a black-and-white one-pager to help out.


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