Wednesday, December 17, 2014

2015 Achievements and the IOTY

2015 was a difficult year in that it lacked the proactive measures that I have achieved in previous years.  Loss of a valued staff member and the care and ultimate passing of a loved one resulted in reduced capacity to implement measures that were in the pipeline.

We did achieve a few things though:

- research is done for organising teaching observations in 2015.
- the 6th summer school has been organised and is over subscribed again with 48 students.
- Mathematics Academy classes have run for the 7th year.
- new staff are integrating well and capacity is growing in Math/Science.
- the Fogerty leadership programme helped develop stronger planning measures for the school.
- we're looking at a number of fun behaviour management schemes.
- transition went well and numbers are looking good.
- implementation of the new behaviour management policy.
- implementation of the formal streaming process.
- implementation of the ICT plan and rollout of 200 units of ICT across the school.
- made connections with like minded schools to ensure issues faced with small groups are diminished in 2015.
- plans have been presented to further enhance the mathematics programme through an engineering and public speaking focus in 2015.
- Australian curriculum implementation is progressing well.

The IOTY award for 2015 goes jointly to the teachers union, our beloved premier and the media for repeatedly reporting that we were on the list for closure or amalgamation during year 7 and 8 enrollment times.  A close second goes to the commonwealth for mandating inflexible A-E grading when it is not appropriate for schools with significant delays such as commonly found in low socio-economic schools.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The year that was.

My first year as HOLA, although the end to it was disappointing and difficult, was a successful year from my perspective.  I'm proud of how my team has responded to a demanding environment and how we were able to turn a bad situation with very low morale into a positive one.

From a HOLA perspective I set a few goals at the start of the year.

  1. Gain a better understanding of the composition of our admission students (investigation of statistics of transition students, investigation of feeder primary strengths and weaknesses).
  2. Develop effective professional development to ensure we are improving our teaching pedagogy (Attended the MAWA conference, training to become regional transition trainer, continuation of informal teacher in-class observations)
  3. Commence meaningful performance management in line with AITSL standards (done for maths)
  4. Develop written programmes throughout each year group and have ownership of these documents distributed throughout the teaching staff (done for maths, work in progress for Science)
  5. Implemented the online marksbook (done for Maths, work in progress for science, training of all staff in usage)
  6. Develop learning area plans for Mathematics (completed and operational) and Science (work in progress)
  7. Develop skills monitoring and developing solutions for BMIS cases (Learning SIS behaviour module, meeting with parents, discussing solutions with peers, ensuring cases are resolved before being closed, developing pathways to reduce BMIS behaviours.) 
  8. Develop the summer school and Mathematics academies into sustainable activities (now managed by non teaching staff and using external tutors.  Students now seeking tutors to solve issues prior to assessment. Creation of demand from students for extension programmes during term breaks.)
  9. Mentor teachers in the Math department, assisting them with creating connections within the school
Incidentally I was able to contribute to the school in a number of different ways
  1. Part of the course counselling team
  2. Developed a personal connection with UWA Aspire to create a sustainable tutoring programme for students at the school
  3. Created connections with students that have left the school to assist them with negotiating issues in first year university
  4. Contributed as a boardmember of the school, providing insight into the operational aspects, developed a rapport with board members and assisted with developing and monitoring schoolwide goals
  5. Assisted with development of the business plan and annual report
  6. Distributed year 7 transition statistics and identified the relative strengths of feeder primary schools
  7. Assisted with transition programmes at the school for feeder yr 6,7,8 students
  8. Participated in leadership programmes to raise the community profile of the school and illustrate the relative strengths of our leadership team
  9. Part of the finance committee 
  10. Developed the ICT plan for 2014 and gained approval from all departments in the school for its implementation
  11. Completed timetabling training
  12. Ensured that all classes were in small groups for moderation and assisted teachers locate SGM partners where necessary
Being on 0.7 FTE load, changed how many things I could do achieve as a teacher, but the following occurred:
  1. Attended a number of school functions including the river cruise, graduation, graduation dinner and school ball
  2. Delivered the 3CD MAT class with a C grade or higher for all students
  3. Delivered the 30 strong 8A class to a national curriculum standard gaining a 60% average on their final test
  4. Worked with two difficult classes to be better able to handle mainstream class expectations with minimal BMIS implications
A favourite part of my year was watching colleagues succeed, especially those that had embraced some of my teaching philosophies during practicum and started using them in classes.  It's nice to see ideas passed on and embraced by others and be able to recommend them to positions based on what you have seen work.

Best of wishes to all during the festive season.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Disengaged and defiant students

Sometimes you take along hard look at how you are doing things and look again at how it can be improved.  This time of year is traditionally a good time to examine your teaching practices and see if there are things that you can do to improve things.

We're doing performance management at the moment and one of the things I am asking is "what are some of the successes you have had in re-engaging students?"  It's one of those big questions in education as some people are decidedly better at engaging students than others.

The main theme seems to be that there is no one solution for all, but there are solutions that work for pockets of students.

  • Low literacy students in mathematics benefit from reduced content and increased opportunities to seek mastery (meaning that these students require opportunities for extra classes to keep up with the mainstream).  They also benefit from alternate grading strategies to ensure motivation remains high (rather than being pounded with E's semester after semester).
  • Students like explicit grading.  Putting an A on a paper is a big motivator to try harder.  Sending this information home via note or email can also be a big motivator.
  • Developing a rapport with students can hide a wide range of issues with teaching practices.  If a student believes in you, they will try harder regardless of the teaching technique used.
  • Deal with the defiant and disengaged students using any help at hand that is available.  Allowing them to potato (sit and hide under the radar) in your classes is not a solution that will re-engage students.
  • Set high but realistic expectations.
  • Encourage students at every opportunity.  
  • Be consistent in your attempts to re-engage students.  Every day is a new day, but repeated and escalating poor performance needs to be dealt with.
  • Seek assistance from parents as soon as possible.  Call them in to discuss matters with you.  Send test papers home.
  • Engage in discussions about futures of students.  Two of my biggest successes of 2014 related to students that opened up about their career prospects and then helping them see how education could lead them there.  This re-opened dialogue about their behaviour and recreated rapports between the students and teachers.
  • Competition is not always a bad thing.  A bit of friendly rivalry can invigorate a stale classroom environment.
  • Take time to plan.  A little preparation in advance can give you breathing space that allows you get your head above water when you are drowning.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Another year 12 bunch through.

One hundred thousand pageviews later, Head of Maths/Science and another class delivered into the big world.  They're a great bunch - the inspiration for many articles, and my group of yr 12 students will be missed.

A few anecdotes spring to mind about them..

"I'm sorry that I missed you today... but I'm in ER.. had a few chest pains earlier this afternoon, but it's all ok."

"Hahahahahaaa sir, said we'd give you a heart attack!"

The dark cloud, the cattle wife, the quiet one, the vacant/bright eyes, the two vying for no.1 and both achieving it, the firebrand, the crazy one, the one that missed every period 1, the tryer, the 47-50%ers, the ones that drive you insane and the ones that you would do everything for and they still struggle.

I loved the fact that the girls always dressed as young ladies and rejected "skank" as the dominant dress code.

The student that cried any time I was near in the last week.

There were so many of them that could have dropped out and the ball was picked up by someone to get them through.

The boys that succeeded despite many obstacles in ways we could not have expected.

They are a part of a digital world that we have no part of.  The valedictory speech was inspired by a google search, their music is too loud, they don't know what they want and that's ok - it will all work out.


Students are innately respectful, it may take hindsight sometimes for them to find it.  Now is the time where we let them go, our work done and now they can take their vision of the world and craft it, like we sought to do at their age.  It will take too long and happen so quickly.

It's a hard time of year in that we have to disengage from students we have sought to engage for up to 6 years.  Today, we walk away from each of them and that student-teacher dependancy is gone in a farewell never to return.  Others now take up the banner and mentor them forward.

Congratulations class of 2013.  Stay safe, enjoy life, find ways to do good.  Drop in and say hello sometime.  I'll wear my tie presents with pride remembering a group that were a pleasure to teach and that will change the world.