Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bit flat

It's hard when the best thing for a school is not the best thing for a bunch of students. The articles on the half cohort floating around best illustrate what happens when budgets rule schools rather than common sense.

It makes everyone a bit flat when good teachers are actively looking for jobs and are uncertain of their future, whilst teachers remaining are put under the microscope as to why they were chosen to stay in lieu of others. I know when I had to dismiss staff I always made it short and sweet, to minimise staff impact. It was always harsh on me this way, but was easier on staff. In schools, decisions may be made mid year, with staff remaining until the end of the year.

Loss of capability is always a concern - as typically teachers are multi-talented and losing someone impacts on class availability. The smaller the school, the lesser the ability to have redundancy and the higher the impact of losing a staff member. This exacerbates the lack of ability to run small class sizes in small schools (50 student cohorts with 10% of students reaching level 3 courses) are bound to make small classes(eg. five students). It raises the question of the appropriateness and equity of most small WA high schools for bright students.

I also think that sometimes we miss that some teachers can really do wonderful things with small groups - the adage that <5 is bad is not always true.

I struggle with advocating for students. I have been criticised for advocating and for not advocating vigorously enough - once for not idetifying loudly enough that students were in the wrong class, on one occasion for raising that potential issues were arising due to changing class availability and on one occasion for raising that I thought that my teaching was sub par for a topic and needed help. Sometimes I understand why some teachers just want to close the door and teach and let others do what needs to be done. I'm glad of this blog, as it allows me an outlet rather than just pursuing what I think needs to be done through action and persuasion.

Those of us specialising in one learning area (such as mathematics) need to examine opportunities for multi-skilling or alternatively find larger schools. It makes it harder to stay focused when you would rather be looking to student improvement and working with a dynamic and motivated team to make it so. Building a good team is difficult and breaking it up for the sake of a couple of dollars is just a tad silly.

On the upside, the limits topic in Saddler 3BMAS is a bit of a doddle - which is great, as I found it difficult when I went through school. I'm not sure if it is just that the text is good or if I'm missing something.

Anyhoo.. time to look forward, find the next idea and drive it onwards. I think year 7 extension programmes are next with some refocusing of the year 8 -12 programmes to tailor them a little better to the cohorts.

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