Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The TES

The Times Educational Supplement (TES) website is the largest UK teachers website and it has a forum which is extremely popular. Type "Teaching Forum" into Google and this is the top UK result

It has over 150 000 members and between 4 and 7000 posts daily. I spent a couple of hours skimming through it last week and although some of the posters are obviously highly articulate and there is much high quality debate, logical argument and intelligent comment, I couldn't help but feel sad at the large number of personal attacks, mud slinging and mindless insults between posters, most of whom are presumably teachers.

Like it or not; this is the image of us that the outside world sees and can freely access. We should stop and think about this.

The phrase "Don't hang out your dirty washing in public" is more relevant today than ever. Anything on the internet can be saved, stored and referred to indefinitely- it doesn't just go away.

I don't moderate comments to my blog and I've been amazed at the quality of those that I've received. Thanks for this.

51 comments:

Mo said...

I've given up with the TES site. There's some good posters but too much boring fighting and name calling. I think there is a 'Not TES' site now but I couldn't find it when I tried.

Anonymous said...

It's only really on the 'Opinion' and 'Personal' threads that things have got embarrassing.

You're right though; it doesn't give much of an impression. Dunno whether they have moderators or not.

Shuggy said...

The phrase "Don't hang out your dirty washing in public" is more relevant today than ever.

Ach don't worry - you don't think Joe and Joesephine Public frequent the TES staffroom in large numbers do you?

I stopped visiting because most of the posters don't seem to have much in the way of a sense of humour.

Anonymous said...

Well personally I think you're all a load of ******* and that Chalk's a complete ****** .You are right about the petty name calling and insults though, some of the ******s on TES spend more time calling each other ******s instead of trying to come up with solutions to education's many problems.
As for you "Shuggy", you *****, sort out that photo, I recommend Photoshop, it's ****** *****.
Excellent book by the way Mr Chalk, even if you are a ******* ****.

Remember Laughter is the best medicine.... unless you're asthmatic, then its Ventolin.

sarah p said...

it's 'indefinitely' frank, you twat.
got your book on saturday - it is a brilliant, brilliant read, with surprisingly few splelng mistaks.
great blog too.

Anonymous said...

the TES site confirms everything I've always thought about teachers: 80% of them are totally juvenile.
the longest thread on there (i think) is called something like 'last one to answer wins'.
i mean, in an age when 50% of our kids are leaving school without being able to read and write properly, is this sort of rubbish what our 'educators' should be spending their time on?
ellie

Geog Teacher said...

I've given up on the TES site. I'd say a third of the contributions are worth reading, a third are childish rubbish and a third are just PC drivel.
I haven't got time to waste on it any more.

Josephine Public said...

As a parent I had hoped that the TES website would provide some insight into the lives, attitudes and aspirations of individuals in the teaching profession, whom for the most part I admire and sympathise with. Sadly it has done exactly that and my sympathy vote at least has been lost.

Al said...

I used to post regularly on the TES forum as it was once very good but recently has just degenerated into childish drivel.

It doesn't show us in a good light at all and I wish the moderatoers would realise this.

Stu Savory said...

Hi Frank,
this is off-topic. I've blogged about the debilitating effect of faulty textbooks today. Thought you might like to know.

David said...

I logged onto the TES site when I started probation. Lasted about two days before I and many others were subjected to patronising and often personal attacks from "mybabe" who is infamous in the forums for slagging off new teachers etc. Were her identity known she'd be in for (a) lots of libel cases and (b) being sacked by Peter Peacock because if she is an example of a so called experienced teacher then God help the profession! The forums are getting worse thanks to the likes of her and several others, some of whom don't even appear to be teachers! Most of my group haven't been back since! About time the TES cleaned house and got rid of the nasty posters.

Anonymous said...

I used to post there regularly (who knows - someone might remember "Cynical" there...)

I always said that teachers would be treated like professionals when they learned to act like them.

Just like Scotland would now rule the world if they hadn't spent the last 2,000 years engaged in warfare with their arch enemies, the Scots, so teachers wouldn't be treated like useless morons if they could just co-operate and face down those inept braindead f***wits in Westminster.

Cynical

Anonymous said...

Geog Teacher said:
'...and a third are just PC drivel'

A Geography teacher who hates PC drivel! How do you get through each day?

Anonymous said...

I hate being tarred with the TES brush. I thoroughly agree with the parent who has lost her sympathy with teachers. Please remember that we're not all like those you see on that ridiculous forum.

I noticed that some - nay, lots - post during the day. How on earth are we to justify our need to have more time for admin, when people like that let us down so badly?

Yes, I'm sounding self-righteous and smug, but only because I have a bit of pride and wish to keep it.

Anonymous said...

I have posted on TES for a couple of years now. There have been many times when the advice and support received there has been invaluable to me. At best the debate there is rigorous and thought provoking, at worst it can be infantile and obscene. Many posting on the TES site are not teachers - any member of the public can post there. In recent months, the number of extreme far right postings has gone up and this, along with the ridiculously random moderation has caused me to lose faith in the boards ad in particular the (new) moderators' unprofessional and autocratic approach.

Should these boards be about how teachers 'look' or should it be a place where teachers can openly tell it how it is and receive the advice and support they often badly need? We can't do that anywhere else. Should the boards not be valued as a true reflection of teaching today? And should how teaching 'looks' be the main priority? I don't think so, that was not what TES forums was ever about. Tough if it is not always a pretty picture. It was never meant to be a gagging order and an advertisement for teaching. That seems to be the way the new moderators want to take it and I for one am not interested.

I felt that the moderators of the TES forums ceased to value their posters largely because there was no alternative - they had the monopoly. An alternative site is something which is healthy and to be supported and valued and one regular TES poster did set one up (with a great deal of hard work). I hasten to add, I am just a common or garden poster and did not have anything to do with the setting up of the site, but am strongly supporting it. This site is in its infancy but is doing very well and has a positive and fresh atmosphere so far. I suggest other teachers and those involved with education visit and support this new site. TES needs an alternative and the new site is just that.

www,infet.co.uk.

Have a look.

Anonymous said...

I have posted on TES for a couple of years now. There have been many times when the advice and support received there has been invaluable to me. At best the debate there is rigorous and thought provoking, at worst it can be infantile and obscene. Many posting on the TES site are not teachers - any member of the public can post there. In recent months, the number of extreme far right posts has gone up and this, along with the random and autocratic moderation has caused me to lose faith in the boards and in particular the (new) moderators' inconsistent approach.

Should these boards be about how teachers 'look' or should it be a place where teachers can openly tell it how it is and receive the advice and support they often badly need? We can't do that anywhere else. Should the boards not be valued as a true reflection of teaching today? And should how teaching 'looks' be the main priority? I don't think so, that was not what TES forums was ever about. Tough if it is not always a pretty picture. It was never meant to be a gagging order and a sugar coated advertisement for how great it all is in teaching. That seems to be the way the new moderators want to take it and I for one am not interested.

I felt that the moderators of the TES forums have recently been high-handed and beyond any form of discussion largely because there was no alternative - they had the monopoly and seemed to me to place no value in their posters. An alternative site is something which is healthy and to be supported and valued. One regular TES poster did set one up (with a great deal of hard work). I hasten to add, I am just a common or garden poster and did not have anything to do with the setting up of the site, but am strongly supporting it. This site is in its infancy but is doing very well and has a positive and fresh atmosphere so far. I suggest other teachers and those involved with education visit and support this new site. TES needs an alternative and the new site is just that.

www.infet.co.uk

Independent Network For Education and Teachers.

Have a look.

Anonymous said...

sorry for the double input, I didn't realise the first had gone through - damnit!

Bill H said...

Unfortunately it doesn't matter whether teachers think that they should be judged by the content of the TES forums any more than it matters whether I think that I should be judged by my appearance.

The fact is that they are and I am.

Katy H said...

I'm a parent who reads this blog regularly. I had never heard of the TES forums until this post.

Out of interest I had a look through it and found an endless series of "I can't cope", "I'm being bullied" and "She said x about me" type stuff.

I don't know if there is a Doctors or Lawyers forum but I can't imagine them being so childish surely?

My daughter starts school next year and if this TES stuff is representative of the profession then I'm going to seriously consider home schooling!

geog teacher said...

the pc drivel in geography... yep, there's plenty of that. i try to sidestep it and am fortunate that i teach in a good school with bright (and, more importantly, interested and motivated) kids, so we cover the curriculum in about two weeks (because it's a piece of piss) and then go off-piste.

re infet.co.uk, i'll check that out.

Anonymous said...

I'm a teacher and looking through the contents of some of the TES Forum boards, I would be ashamed to mention the site to a non teacher.

If we want to be taken seriously then we have to think about the image we portray to the outside world, like it or not.

Anonymous said...

i am a parent and i have been reading tes forum for some time,some of it is informative in a good way some of it not so good,i am amzed at how unprofessional some of them are[i know lots arent even teachers,but you get to realise that lots are]not to mention the narrow mindedness of some of them,some folk cant see beyond their own bubble can they?

i am surprised that some people dont think many parents look at this forum,it was a parent that told me about it because they had recognised a teacher by things that she had said,doesnt this occur to posters?

Anonymous said...

Lax moderation has had a highly detrimental effect on the TES website.

Freedom of speech and the entitlement to express one's own opinions is important but for some that just means taking the mickey. The spurious and abusive content on the two most used forums, Personal and Opinion, should be treated to the most active moderation yet are often the ones which are left un-moderated to continue to give a negative impression of teachers.

Many of the members of the TES website are not teachers but most of the non-teachers have an interest in educational matters or have been teachers in the past. TES would be the worse off if non-teachers weren't allowed to contribute. Sadly, I am more and more of the belief that some form of registration which includes proof of educational credentials should be demanded.

I have been watching, with interest, the growth of the new website ( http://infet.co.uk ) which has been set up as a direct result of the arbitary and unfair nature of the moderation on the TES website. If successful in the long term it may be that INFET will serve to better reflect the nature of teachers, teaching and educational matters.

Frank, maybe you should go there and take a look. The history behind it and its rapid growth is fascinating.

Jill S said...

I'm a parent and ex teacher. I wouldn't want my kids (or friends)to see a lot of what is posted on the TES boards.

In the same way that 'No Angels' did the nurses no favours at all, the pathetic arguments and backbiting on those forums does not help teachers one bit

Tony Halliwell said...

The fact that the biggest thread on 'Opinion' is 'the abuse must stop' says it all.

Nobody really cares what teachers get up to in private but the TES board is viewable by anybody. Teachers might not want to be judged by what is posted, but nevertheless, they are.

Burnden said...

I have been using the TES site for nearly a year now. The subject boards can be useful for subject information.
Personal- as I understand it- is for people to kick their shoes off and chill out- so yes it's got silly games and chatter going on.
Opinion is intended (IMO) to be for discussions of topics of interest. At times the most interesting matters for many posters are what's going on on Opinion. To someone looking in from outside it must look very silly and petty. The hap-hazard moderation over the last few months hasn't helped and has lead to the creation of INFET.

So far the INFET site seems to be breaking away from it's origins and enguaging in some thought provoking debates.

http://infet.co.uk/forums/index.php

Remember though- many teachers aren't in a position where they can go down to a pub and chat about work- TES and now INFET gives them that outlet.

Amjad said...

The TES boards give a very bad impression of teachers. Half of the posters cannot even spell.

They are mad not to try and restrict viewing to teachers only (they must have some sort of registration number?)

I'm in year 11 and find it quite addictive. It's very funny to see threads on 'Pulling a Sickie' or 'Snogging a Sixth Former', but it does make them seem pretty unprofessional.

Anonymous said...

what a load of shite

Anonymous said...

As a teacher and frequent reader/occasional poster on the TES site I have to agree with Mr Chalk.

I will not be posting on the site again as it has changed it's character over the last year or so.

Maybe it is just a reflection of the way teachers are treated, or perhaps the changing nature of the people attracted to the profession.

Whatever the reason(s), the site provides ammunition for those who wish to bash the profession, and there in my view there are too many of those already.

I will be looking for a copy of the book tomorrow.

mandy said...

as a teacher, i find the TES site totally boring (i'm on about the staffroom bits). i'm no old fogey (27) but i find it reflects my view of teachers: half are normal people and half are big kids who've never really left school themselves.
i am sick to death of watching our head of maths (in his mid 40s) dressing, talking and behaving like someone 20 years younger.

i'd not heard of your blog beforew frank but i like it - will be buying your book too.

mandy

oldandrew said...

I am a regular poster on the behaviour and opinion forums. A lot of the abusive and inappropriate posts come from a very small number of users, often under several different usernames. Very often those individuals don't appear to be teachers. However it never fails to surprise me how many of the teachers on there can't even spell "professional" let alone understand what it means.

Anonymous said...

As one of the recently banned, I agree with FC's comments. It used to be a place for er.... robust debate and heated exchanges but it didn't seem to attract the level of nutters, socks and trolls (who actually have puerile, embarrassing arguments with THEMSELVES - I wonder if they've been paid by someone with a grudge to drag the Staffroom through the mud) it has in the last twelve months. In the past I've found the generosity of posters and the quality of support and advice to be extremely high, and I'm truly sorry to see it go down the pan.

Anonymous said...

I am a regular reader and occasional contributor to the maths and behaviour forums.
I have to say that the maths forum has helped me develop more as a teacher than any "course" I've ever been on. And it's always professional and courteous.
Behaviour is often a sad forum to read. It makes me realise that there are people worse off than me!!!

At the end of the day, Personal and Opinion represent life's rich tapestry. Teaching isn't immune to having the full spectrum of opinions and thoughts represented in it. And at the end of the day who do most people remember from their schooldays? The teachers who taught their lessons and didn't do much else, or the characters whose human flaws made lessons all the more enjoyable?

simon, history boy said...

i remember miss brodie, who was about 24, blonde and with tits like watermelons.
but that's just me, probably.

lily said...

I can only repeat what I said on INFET: "I agree with Frank the Chalk - what must it look like to parents? I think there could be something to be said about having Opinion as only accessible with a DES number or whatever they call it today, so parents, journalists and Joe Public can be protected from The Awful Truth of "Shall I f**k (Two asterisks for you, Frank)this Y11 pupil?" "Ginger Bingo" and "Top ten most popular ways to torture a Y9."

Janey said...

Dead right Frank. I'm a parent, never been a teacher. I read your blog and looked at the TES forum for the first time afterwards.

I was shocked to be honest. There's nothing wrong with them slagging off conditions in their schools, the parents, the kids etc. (just as you do!) But it's the amount of really childish posts that are just pathetic.

It does give a bad impression. I'm presuming that you have to be a teacher to go on it.

Anonymous said...

Don't know if you have to be a teacher or not. Some bits are good but others are very childish and pretty sad.

It just confirms my long held belief that a fair percentage of teachers go School, University then school again because they haven't grown up.

Anonymous said...

I've contributed regularly to the TES staffroom for several years. On the whole, I think one has to allow for the fact that teachers are letting off steam, but the boards can be seen by anyone and it's interesting that a year 11 pupil saw that disgraceful thread on "Pulling a sickie".

I have also maintained for some time that the standard of literacy on the boards is so appalling that members of the public must wonder about the competence of those teaching their children.

Saggy said...

I'm year 11 as well. Me and my friends sometimes read the TES forums (better laugh than myspace or bebo)just to see what teachers are really like

They're sometimes really good and make you feel quite sorry for what teachers have to put up with from some kids.

Some of the threads must be written by children though cos theyre not funny just stupid. I don't reckon they should let everyone see the stupid ones though.

Really funny blog Frank. R U a teacher still?

Jerry said...

The TES site makes me embarrassed to be in teaching. Very few well written or amusing posts, just dumbed down and childish mud slinging. I don't think it attracts the bright sparks, the content is more like you would expect to hear in a playground

Sam said...

Have a read of this thread on TES. Its about Frank's critisism. Jump to post 70 or thereabouts and it starts to turn into the usual childish name calling.

They couldn't have proved his point better if they'd tried!

http://www.tes.co.uk/section/staffroom/thread.aspx?story_id=2294172&path=/Opinion/&threadPage=1&messagePage=1

Anonymous said...

I'm not a teacher. I am a parent. I do from time to time browse over the TES site & since its inception the much lauded INFET site (which does appear to be more mature).To be quite frank, while it is only a smallish minority of posters that behave in an irresponsible fashion, they do appear to be the most prolific posters. I hope to God none of them are employed at the school my teenagers attend. What sort of example are they setting? If they are incapable of self management & resort to spiteful & juevenile name calling, how do they manage a class of 30+ kids? As I said before, it does appear to be the minority of posters, unfortunately, IMHO it will & does reflect badly on the entire profession & collectively teachers will be tarred with the same brush. Whether this is fair or not, it is immaterial, it's human nature.

DorsetDipper said...

I also am a parent, not a teacher, and like to browse TES to see what the whingeing rabble are complaining about now ... act like manual workers, get paid like manual workers.

Ranting Teacher said...

The TES website is now infamous, and surely a victim of its own initial success. Three or so years ago the posters were witty and insightful. Now, just like a rowdy bar, I pass certain sections in a hurry without even popping my head through the virtual door.

I haven't looked in on the Opinion or Personal threads in a long while, since discovering most of them were clogged with sewage. Sewage which seeps along at an unbelievably fast rate, it has to be said. There's no way I would be able to keep up with debates by looking in just once a day or every two days. All of which does beg the question: where are these teachers getting all this time from to lurk there and post so frequently?

The subject areas were a little more useful, but these days seem to be full of posts such as:
1. Does anybody have any good ideas for teaching AAA in a way to engage BBB pupils? I've tried CCC but it failed to impress.
2. What you could do is DDD. Send me an email and I'll email you a copy of my worksheet.
3-99. Can I have a copy too?

It just convinces me that 97% of teachers lack originality and spark, and are too lazy to think of better ways to teach their own pupils.

I think it's important that teachers are allowed to have a life outside of their teaching personas, but to discuss such things on a website dedicated to teaching seems a bit ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading and posting on TES for over a year. I am a parent, and trainee teacher. The subject forums are very good. When I first started I said much the same as you, Frank on opinion and was roundly sworn at and hounded by many. The worst posters ARE teachers. They seem to have taken on the worst traits of the teenagers they teach.

Anonymous said...

I find the subject forums on the TES website very helpful - perhaps it's just my particular area, of course, but it often has interesting and thought-provoking discussions as well as teachers supporting each other with good ideas. This is not because we lack original ideas, but because we enjoy sharing our ideas and learning from each other in order to expand our teaching strategies. I also enjoy the TES book club forum, which sometimes encourages me to read books I might have otherwise passed by.

I do agree that some threads are abusive and unnecessary. It may be that the recent shake up may improve the situation, now that it is beginning to die down.

Anonymous said...

Is there any other real alternative to the TES in terms of joining a massive forum?

Janey said...

TES has cleaned up its act. For those who denigrate it, please look at areas other than Opinion and Personal. The Early Years forum is an excellent example of professional dialogue. INFET descended recently into backbiting. It is now in the process of chsnge. Parents reading the forum will be shocked at the politics and bullying that exist within schools. Teachers posting on TES in the way that they do is in response to this often very negative and demotivating culture in which they work. Sorry if parents are disappointed. I was too when I went into teaching.

Anonymous said...

How interesting although i would like to point out most of the mudslinging is done in jest. One or two posters can be serious but how do you actually know who is a teacher or not on there. Anyone can sign up, so please don't judge us all by this. Some signed up are parents, some memebers are in other professions and even some students who you can pick out by trying to wind people up.

Anonymous said...

Remember when teachers are posting they are not at work, what do some think we should be a teacher 24/7, come on, we do have social lives as well. On the whole the TES is a very useful ans supportive site.

Miss Milk said...

"Just like Scotland would now rule the world if they hadn't spent the last 2,000 years engaged in warfare with their arch enemies, the Scots, so teachers wouldn't be treated like useless morons if they could just co-operate and face down those inept braindead f***wits in Westminster."

I beg your pardon? Exactly who are we or were we at war with??? Get your facts right please