Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Nearly end of term

 It's nearly end of Term 3.  Time to thank everyone that has helped get this far.

Students that are looking forward to the holidays but are tired and ratty.

Teachers that are dragging their feet into work and are looking forward to the recharge that is coming.

Principals and admin that are dealing with all the complaints and grizzlies that are occurring.

Student services that are just trying to hold it all together.


It's not a nice time but if we are all understanding we can make the most of it.  Not everything that happens in the next few days will be rational - put decisions off, understand that people can be emotional and these next few days will be fairly painless.  

Get the last bit of content and marking done and we are on our way.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

High School Board Games 2021 edition

 My most recent plastic box filled with boardgames in the high school classroom (in no order):

Anomia (party) - 4 players
For Sale (auction) - 6-8 players
Citadels (strategy) - 6 players
Hamsterrolle (dexterity) - 4 players
Five Minute Marvel (action) - 4 players
Dixit (party/deduction) - 6-8 players
Rhino Hero (dexterity) - 4 players
Turing Tumble (problem solving) - 1 player
Murder in Hong Kong (deduction) - 6 players
Santorini (strategy) - 4 players
SET (trick taking) - 6-8 players
Blockus (abstract) - 4 players

With the exception of Hamsterrolle (out of print) and Turing tumble (expensive), they are all usually readily available, most fairly cheaply.  I try and keep 6-8 games going concurrently thus it is important to have games of 6-8+ players for larger classes.

All can be taught or learned from the instructions, played and packed up in less than an hour.  I have a second box of different games I use for younger or less mature classes.

Previous success has been found with but have been replaced by the games above:

Ticket to Ride (trick taking)
Carcassonne (tiles)
Coup/Resistance/Avalon (strategy)
Spyfall (deduction)
Apples to Apples (party)
Kingdomino (tiles)
Splendor (strategy)
7 Wonders (strategy)
Love Letter (strategy)
Pitchcar (dexterity)
Lupus in Tabula/Werewolf (party)
Azul (tiles/strategy)
Dominion (deckbuilding)
Machi Koro (dice)

There are many games I enjoy more, but won't work within the hour constraint common in a school period.


Friday, September 10, 2021

Support vs intervention

Mainstream and extension classes are able to access the  year level curriculum as set by the Curriculum and Standards Authority (SCSA).  Some students for a range of reasons are unable to access this curriculum.  To assist them requires a level of differentiation either through ongoing additional support or intervention.

Reasons for requiring differentiation are extensive.  Gaps in conceptual understanding happen for many reasons - illness, teaching quality, taking holidays during term, sporting commitments, lack of ability, mental health, lack of cultural support, lack of confidence, peer conflict, family conflict.  

Whether a child requires ongoing additional support or intervention requires careful analysis to see if it is feasible to bridge the student back to the year level curriculum or if they will require ongoing additional support throughout schooling.

Support classes acknowledge that students are unlikely to access the year level curriculum and are typically assessed against what they can do through procedures such as SEN reporting.  This allows the  student to achieve success in the classroom and promotes engagement.  Parents need to be informed and on board with the decision if students are moved to supported environments.  It is not a decision that can be made lightly.

Intervention is different, is less frequently done during normal classroom time and typically done through tutoring and outside of the classroom.  When done in the classroom, interventions are measures introduced that assist students learn the behaviours and techniques known by mainstream students whilst preventing the student from falling further behind.  This means that students that are behind, have to work harder in class than students on syllabus, to catch up, something difficult to achieve with struggling students.  EALD students and highly motivated students are groups where catchup is possible, particularly where literacy is the inhibitor.

Streams encounter the issues solved through intervention frequently as behaviours required in higher streams need to be taught to students in lower streams to increase the chances of success prior to transition.  Where this is not done effectively, students are less likely to find success in classes that they are moved to and transition takes longer to achieve.  Typically intervention during transition is required in the form of encouragement, academic assistance and peer alignment to bridge students to the requirements of the new stream.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Working hours

The common perception is that teachers are overworked and underpaid.  There was a time (and still are in some areas) when this is true.  The first three years as a graduate teacher are a slog.  Exam marking.  Designing investigations.  Managing 30 adolescents is hard.

but.. are teachers actually doing the quoted average 60 hours per week? Possible reasons for these working hours are lack of organisation, failure to collaborate, capacity building, reinventing the wheel, "recovery time", carrying unproductive staff, behaviour management and allocation of duties beyond the classroom. At face value it appears to be a misconception that isn't really happening and was based on historical/aged evidence.

Today we buy exams, work across schools to share assessments, mark formally less frequently, have programmes that describe what to teach, when to assess and what to assess that are trialled and tested over multiple years (the last full syllabus refresh was 2016ish), have IT to assist reusing of resources, have significant item banks to draw assessment from.  It is not clear what the majority of teachers are doing that takes increased working hours beyond the 37.5 normal working week.

Teachers have 20ish hours of contact time - that leaves an additional 40 hours (according to the average) of time doing DOTT tasks (of which traditionally 20 hours are unpaid, recompensed through additional holidays and flexible time outside of school hours).  The lack of auditing of what teachers are doing to ensure that time is being efficiently used, talks to systemic management inefficency and appears to be an area that can be investigated for more productive use of public monies.

Yet the perception is that teachers are overworked and underpaid.  Why and how can this perception shift can occur to that we are in a priviledged situation and have a profession that not only is well staffed, conditioned, paid and catered to.  It is an unpopular postulate that we are not overworked/underpaid but one that needs to be considered and marketed.