Oh INSET, you poor thing, what have you done to yourself? Why did you give up on life? Why did you let yourself be turned into such a shadow of a creature, permanently leashed by half-baked policy and forced into submission by top-down, unintelligible doctrine? Oh my darling INSET, it was never meant to be this way, you were meant for us to learn but… oh look what they’ve done to you. They stand up there in front of all of us and they just use you as a hammer to drive into us the rusty nails of some VAK crap or Thinking Hats or some other archaic junk that they found on the internet last night all because the head teacher/principle/overlord said that they had to lead an INSET so that it shows that they do something in the school which explains why they can afford a new house/boat/houseboat/boathouse. I thought it was our career progression and development that you were about but it looks like it’s really about that man pressing play on the video and telling us that we should be more like some school in Korea or Japan or Scunthorpe that has embraced technology and inspired a hopeless generation and then it ends. Puff. Bam. Just, be better. Oh INSET I’m sorry to make this personal but all they do is tell us to be better by showing us people who are better and where are our iPads for every student, or huge reform from the leadership team? They don’t exist. Be better, they tell us while standing on you and ignoring our objections. We’re people and we are as fallible as students. I don’t want tot be taught a lesson by someone whose only enthusiasm is because they have to qualify why they drive a better car and have a bigger house and can send whole staff emails. INSET, darling, please don’t cry, because I will too.
Oh INSET, it’s happening again. I sit here at the back of the theatre amongst those for whom cycnicism is easier than breathing and I breathe, myself, a sigh of pity for your very name. As I sit I see a man stood up besmirching your supple, fragile form and upon it paint his policies and I look and I simply cannot believe. I cannot believe the money spent on the useless wasted time. He tells us that this is not about empire building, but then why are we a multi-academy trust? He tells us that he trusts us to do the right thing, but then why, after lunch, will there be an outside speaker on a new system that is being put in place by a company that we are paying for? INSET, I know that this is not your fault. You did not want to do it but you could not resist. They sang sweet words of a ‘community of learners’. They dripped ‘every child matters’ down your throat while they showed you ‘the path to outstanding’. You are not the first victim sweetheart and I know that doesn’t make it any easier but don’t cry now; we’ll sort something out. We’ll get it back. We’ll stop SLT from just telling us what we need to do better and instead maybe they could lead, properly. Maybe they will stop just manipulating those teachers that actually teach. They will think about INSET and do more than just show us a video produced by a great school. Perhaps we’ll have a chance to contribute in a way that is not just token acceptance that we are actually people. Maybe they will talk to us, one day, about teaching, not data and accountability and tracking.
No INSET, it’s not hopeless. I know that there are people in here that will buy this bullshit every time because they know; deep down, that the only way to move up is to join in. And they will happily bend over and smile as policies are rammed… Sorry darling, I know. I’m crude. It’s true, I see things badly but what hope is there when even what is meant to improve me makes me think I’m getting worse at this job. I think it might be good that I see things badly because maybe that’s the start of a revolution. Darling, remember what we need to; it is always the day before the revolution. Yes, you are right. If we begin in the classroom then their ridiculous initiatives will be to blame for our student’s successes and then when we eventually give up hope they will continue their policies and then a yeargroup or worse will be abandoned to the chopping board of crass educational consumerism. So yes. You’re right. I’ll just be quiet and get on with it. And I’ll work the extra hours and love my subject and watch everything I do well get twisted rung into dirty waters for all it’s worth. And I’ll sit here and I’ll watch the video and I’ll look into your eyes and watch the hope dwindle but when someone in the pub asks me what I do, for some unknown reason I will be proud to say that I am a teacher because I know, away from all this, that I do good things.