Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Head of Department.

Today was my first day as Head of Department of our high school.  Six years and a fair bit of work has resulted in a position where I can monitor progress and instigate change to improve the learning programmes of students.  It's a role gained through attrition to some degree with some people better than I passing through it on the way to other roles, but I'll take it and make it into how I see it.  It's a two edged sword as I have to give up some class time, but it will free time to develop the courses further - which can only be a good thing.

Recently two bits of research crossed my desk.  The first stated that self discipline was more important than IQ, something that I have believed for a long time (albeit I attribute it to work ethic rather than self discipline - but I see them as two sides of the same coin).  The second indicated that social networks were detrimental to student learning, particularly for students of low self esteem (in hindsight, this is obvious like most insights into human behaviour).

We ran our summer school again this year and it was our most successful thus far, involving students from three year groups, graduating students, past students, practicum teachers, university students and teachers from the school.  Student responses on day five were overwhelmingly positive, indicating that the format is working and students can see how it is helping them.  It was interesting to note that the presenters believed we could have been more prepared, yet the students believed we were well prepared indicating that either we can do far better, or that the kids liked the responsiveness created by the flexibility required by being ill prepared.  I'm not sure, but this year, with a plethora of presenters, I wasn't as pressured as in past years (and to all the presenters a big thank you!).

I played a game of LNOE tonight, and it was by far the best zombie game I have played so far.  It plays in under an hour, so I look forward to playing it with the kids.  Should be a bit of fun.

I had a quick look again at the National Curriculum progress, particularly for senior school today, and it was interesting to see how close the descriptions were to WACE outlines, making the transition a little easier.  Having only looked at the essential (Voc type course like MwM or MiPs) and the general course descriptions,  my anxiety levels are dropping as long as we can get the national curriculum courses working in 8, 9, 10.  

I like the new found emphasis on delivering courses to pathways whether office, vocational or university.  It gives guidance to the materials required in a way general courses did not.  It will be interesting to see if course planners can continue to predict the needs of the pathways and stay ahead such that the right students are always available.  Protecting the element of learning for learning's sake is important as it is how we future proof our courses - I would hate to see them only teaching what is required for today's industry.

We're a good team in 2013 and I look forward to some good results.