Rusty Teachers And Flying Time

Even if we manage to avoid getting COVID-19 then going on holiday will be a huge risk because the people flying us to where we want to go will be so rusty they will probably crash the plane.

I’m not even being flippant.

Dozens of pilots have told Nasa’s Aviation Safety Reporting System that they have made errors since getting back into the cockpit because they are rusty.

Spend even a short amount of time from your day job and you forget things.

For people working in an office then you will forget passwords.

For pilots, the situation is more serious though. Some have admitted to forgetting to disengage the parking brake when pulling away from the gate. Someone else said they struggled to land the plane in a strong wind taking three attempts in the end.

Returning to the classroom is going to be no different. Teachers are going to be rusty because they will have missed out on valuable flying time and all the class turbulence that goes with it.

Although many teachers will have been providing some sort of teaching through zoom, these are not like flying the plane in ‘real life’. Zoom is certainly not real life and is a very poor substitute for actual teaching.

And there’s the problem. When teachers and pupils do end up back together, teachers will have forgotten the basics and pupils (already way behind) will be all over the place.

If teacher’s aren’t in the classroom then they are losing key skills and like any job, if you aren’t doing it then you aren’t likely to be adept at it – ask any educational consultant.

Time away from the classroom is good for teachers from a wellbeing point of view….but not for as long as this. Many teachers will be looking forward to getting back to business but many will also be nervous and dreading it.

To be an effective teacher, you need the flying hours and these need to be consistent.

This is why the summer holidays always throws a spanner in the works. There is no other profession that has such a significant time away and expects it’s personnel to ‘fly the plane’ as if it were yesterday they last flew. Skills are perishable and the only way to keep them fresh is by frequent use.

Teachers will be rusty at a time when pupils need them to be on top of their game. Learning loss and a loss of teaching time engaged in the craft of teaching, learning and assessment makes for a very messy time ahead.

Even if you are in the thick of the action, your skills can quickly go out of date if you don’t invest in regular CPD.

Teachers need to continually refresh themselves as professionals by immersing themselves in new ideas and thinking as well as engaging in rigorous, ongoing reflection and enquiry.

The unplanned and rapid move to online learning with no training and very little preparation has created the perfect teaching and learning storm.

The pandemic has de-skilled teachers and Ofsted are just waiting in the wings ready to pounce. One of the first things teachers will therefore need to do when they get back is to put on their own oxygen masks before helping their students.

There are some skills in life such as riding a bike that are, more or less, “non-perishable” because you can go years without using them and then when you need them again you don’t forget what to do.

Well, teaching and flying a plane don’t fall into this category. Even simple techniques require continuous maintenance. When we don’t repeat our key teaching skills very often, we don’t experience the repetition necessary to build cognitive pathways.

Teaching is all about becoming proficient and staying proficient.

CPD needs replacing with Continued Professional Training (CPT) and Perishable Skills Training (PST).

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