Showing posts with label HOLA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HOLA. Show all posts

Monday, September 7, 2020

HOLA Duties

As a HoLA there are a range of tasks you need to perform.  As part of a mentoring course a model was put forward that described these duties quite well.

"Tell, Sell, Collaborate, Coach"

We were all tested for our mentoring style and my initial response was "collaborate" as my preferred strategy with the proviso that we needed to do all of these depending on the particular task we were undertaking.

Four situations:

Situation 1.

A teacher has not given an assessment schedule or course outline to a class.

Action: (Tell) Teacher is gently reminded that this is a requirement of SCSA and given a compliance date.  If not complied with, needs to be followed up as it is a requirement of a HOLA to ensure this is done.  If possible assist with any roadblocks preventing it being done.  Escalate issue if not complied with as it has the potential for issues with parents and SCSA.

Situation 2.

School would like to implement a numeracy week

Action: (Sell) Consider all the benefits of a numeracy week, discuss the benefits with the team and propose to delegate the duties in a way that does not impact on learning.  Identify champions  that are enthusiastic and able to get the project off the ground (and reward them to encourage others to champion projects in the future). Attempt to achieve team consensus to limit white anting.

Situation 3.

Issue identified that programmes need a review through analysis of student results.

Action: (Collaborate) Discuss the issues with current programmes with the team, delegate year groups to sets of teachers.  Set a deadline for completing the programme review and allocate templates to ensure a consistent review is completed.  Set a long deadline and have teachers report back on how the review is going at each learning area meeting. Emerging leaders should be identified for future projects and advancement.  Create a transparent environment to prevent social loafing.

Situation 4.

Staff member identified with potential leadership capacity.

Action: (Coach) Work with the teacher on their five year plan and identify opportunities to challenge their existing understanding of leadership.  Identify opportunities for them to work with other departments, to lead small groups within the team and to work with admin to develop their capabilities.  Provide an insight on decision making strategies used within the department and provide opportunities to contribute to the decision making process outside of team consensus.


Sunday, July 5, 2020

Assigning classes to teachers and Performance Development/Management

One of the roles of a HOLA is to assign classes to teachers each year.  Constraints limit putting the strongest teacher with the optimum class with optimum defined as the class with the highest potential for learning.

Constraint 1: The timetable
The timetable often limits which teacher can be placed in which class (eg. teaching the same course to two different classes).  This is common where ATAR and General classes are run at the same time to assist with students moving courses midstream or where streaming is done, allowing student to move stream without disrupting other subjects.

Constraint 2: Experience vs capacity building
An experienced teacher understands the scope and sequence of a course of work, has strategies evolved and resources collected.  An inexperienced teacher requires opportunities to develop their skills.  Some staff have some specific skills (Specialist, Foundations, low ability, extension, leadership) that make it desirable to put them in a specific course.

Constraint 3: Part time staff
Some staff are hired on the basis of being part time to fulfil a specific need or have a circumstance that requires a part time approach.

Constraint 4: Capability / Capacity
In some cases, staff have limitations that result in being unable to take certain courses.  Similar to constraint 2, some staff lack the confidence to attempt ATAR courses, Year 12 courses, lower school courses, classroom management limitations.  Teachers may be unable to dedicate time required to support upper school classes or to develop capacity to deliver upper school classes.  

Constraint 5: Personality/Cultural conflict
As much as I would like to say Professionalism should overcome this constraint, this is not always the case.  With enough flexibility, interaction can be minimised to promote a functioning department whilst performance development works through the underlying issues.

Constraint 6: Stage in career
Teachers have different requirements at different stages in their career.  The impact of supporting their own children, generational gaps towards retirement, graduate opportunities, caring for parents, seeking promotional opportunities, seeking higher learning will impact on how a teacher is deployed.

Once the constraints are considered, the approach used to assign classes needs to be considered to maximise learning and staff morale.  I have primarily used three approaches or combinations of these approaches.

A: Best teacher for each class (seniority model).  
Capacity building occurs as staff vacate desirable courses.  Staff are allowed to remain in courses for significant periods to develop a thorough knowledge of each course. 

Advantage: Optimal learning for students (most capable teacher aligned with suitable classes). Fewer parental issues regarding teachers developing capacity. Mid tier classes may get higher levels of support (as teachers develop capacity/demonstrate a teacher's suitability for more desirable classes). 
Disadvantage: Can become stale, transition can be difficult in case of promotion, entitlement issues, sickness, etc.  Some teachers will have a set of less desirable/higher behavioural requirement courses causing morale issues/higher turnover of new staff.

B: Balanced approach. 
Cycling teachers through courses developing capacity across the entire teaching group. 

Advantage: Flexibility in case of changes required due to turnover.  Higher morale as teachers develop their capacity in a transparent manner. 
Disadvantage: Ongoing suboptimal learning whilst teachers develop capacity. Higher turnover as teachers seek positions with lower levels of change required.

C: Allocating points to courses.  
Each course is allocated a point in a distribution.  The average of a teachers subjects is allocated with an aim for teachers to have a combination of challenging behavioural classes and challenging academic classes. 

Advantages: Transparent, seen as a fair approach for teachers. 
Disadvantage: Sub-optimal learning, teachers focus on desirable classes and sacrifice attention to less desirable classes (eg. upper school vs lower school classes, academic vs less academic classes etc).

D: Cycling teachers with students.  
More common in pastoral care situations.  Can be combined with A/B/C.

Advantage:  Students become familiar with teaching pedagogy and teacher becomes familiar with needs of students.
Disadvantage: Conflicts may be carried over extended periods.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Collegiality, Resource Sharing and Collaboration.

It was posed to me that by not insisting that staff share resources that I was not effectively leading my team.

I refuse to insist that anyone share anything other than what was mutually agreed to at the start of the year.  In this instance, staff had been allocated courses of work prior to my arrival that they were responsible for and had to provide all assessments and programmes for those courses.  Given that the distribution was initially uneven due to staff turnover, I evened it out and gained agreement that the assessment allocation method would change in 2020.

My argument was (and is) that if someone else sets the assessment for my class, it is unlikely to test what I have taught with the same emphasis. My class may have strengths based on prior learning, gender bias, teacher competency, ability composition... that would make it unfair to compare them using a test entirely constructed by another teacher (for the entire year). It diminishes the responsibility of the teacher teaching the class that is not in charge of the course.  To my mind, all teachers need to be in charge of their own classroom!

The argument against was that it was difficult to rank students if they did not do exactly the same coursework and exactly the same assessment - that courses should be kept in lockstep.  I was, and am worried that by keeping classes in lockstep through strict streaming in lower school, students that would be able to complete work by the end of the year, would become disheartened if they continued to fail by being presented with assessments that they could not do.  I understand that there are legitimate reasons why this is required in senior school.

What then happened was interesting.  Staff that did not wish to share additional resources they developed, now stopped sharing with some staff.  This is where my leadership differs from my predecessor as I refused to insist that they share resources.  Forcing someone to do something (like resource sharing) causes resentment and de-motivation to develop resources if they are forced to share.  It stifles innovation.  What I prefer to see is friendly competition, collaboration and collegiality. When I didn't insist that they share their resources it caused significant concern.  Anyone that did not make reasonable effort to establish a collegiate, collaborative relationship, would have to do the work themselves.  At the heart of every teaching contract, is the understanding that you are responsible for teaching and resourcing your classroom, I struggle with the notion that creating resources for your class is a workload issue.

Definitions of resource sharing, collaboration, collegiality and professionalism are listed below:

- Resource sharing is giving a portion of (something) to another or others.
- Collaboration is the action of working with someone to produce something.
- Collegiality by definition is companionship and cooperation between colleagues who share responsibility.
- Professionalism is the ability to learn, conscientiousness, interpersonal skills, adaptability and integrity.

If  staff members are in conflict, resource sharing could be forced (and resented thus restricting future resource development), Collaboration and Collegiality are less likely to occur (as staff are being managed rather than developing collegiate relationships) and their Professionalism may be compromised. I imagine this is why the first two levels of AITSL standards relate to personal competency and the latter two to collegiality and community involvement.

Certain actions are likely to prevent collaboration and collegiality:

1. Criticising the work of others.
2. Questioning others competency.
3. Refusing to contribute.
4. Contributing substandard resources.
5. Avoiding opportunities to contribute.
6. Being unable to keep to agreed timelines.
7. Negotiating to do less work.
8. Complaining that workload is too great to contribute.
9. Being prickly, rude or unreasonable.
10. Expecting others to do your work.
11. Resisting accountability

I think that at the heart of Collegiality and Collaboration is mutual respect and being nice - not a patsy or pushover, but following the golden rule - don't do anything that you wouldn't want done to you. At the heart of professionalism is competence and a growth mindset that says there is always something to learn (and learn from others even if you privately question their practices).  If someone is not wanting to share with you, why and how can I turn it around.  This type of thinking is freeing as it removes resentment (it's not fair that I have to work harder) and gives you back control of the situation.  There are actions you can make to develop trust and encourage others to work with you (and not have a feeling of working "for" you).

There cannot be an expectation that everyone is able to collaborate effectively and be collegial with everyone on a team all of the time (it cannot be insisted for under professionalism's interpersonal skills as people interact unreasonably regularly for many reasons outside of the other party's control, everyone is at a different stage of their learning journey).  The larger the team, the less likely a fully collegiate environment will occur.  A little bit of friendly rivalry also has the potential to drive progression in a team.  Creating an environment where challenging beliefs is ok and requires more than just saying the right things - takes time and requires modelling of the skills required.

Next steps are setting the groundwork for collaboration in 2021, creating the most even playing field that I can and hopefully, the further development of collaboration and collegiality within the team.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Closing Schools and the effect on Year 12 students.

According to the media it sounds like schools are closing next week.  The big question is what will happen to Year 12 students?  Creating a statistically sound ranking is going to prove problematic for TISC.  It's time to think about the what next..

External WACE exams and ATAR ranking are not about content, knowledge and skills but about identifying potential through evidence that can be used to identify students that will succeed in higher education.  It is far from perfect, but it is the fairest and most manageable idea devised thus far.  The evidence for this is simple - pre-requisites in university courses are rare, they accept students on ATAR scores.  I understand the logic that students will have to do bridging courses once there - but the counter argument is that once there they will be able to do the work based on their ATAR score.

I imagine SCSA could do a few things depending on whether schools are out for 4 weeks, a term, two terms or the rest of the year.

1. Create an exam based on Year 11 course content and run it as the external exam.  A little time at the end of the year to revise content and advise kids early enough and this would work.

2. Create an external exam based on Unit 1 and examine that only relying on the end of the year to finish Unit 1.

3. Expect kids continue their work in isolation through distance education and run examinations of Unit 1 and 2 as per any other year.

4. Reboot 2020 as 2021 and create a mandatory year 13 for all years currently in school(increasing staffing for kindy/pre-primary and rooming as that year group passed through school years) requiring an extra year of workforce for the next 12 years in schooling (dealing with more 18-19 year olds in high school) and a dead year passing through TAFE/universities for the next four/five years.

Kids in my class are becoming able to use a flipped classroom effectively (where instruction is given through Connect), but it does not work for all students and some require face-to-face intervention to be successful and motivated.

I do hope we are sensible about this.   To use 3. (the most likely outcome even if schools are closed for an extended period) has vast inequity particularly for low SES students that are not disciplined, do not have the resources available or are not supported enough for distance education. We should not underestimate the value of peer based instruction within ATAR classes / the power of students at a similar level working together to solve a problem (rather than passive instruction only).

For Certificate students, I am not sure how they will complete any onsite parts of their Certificates -   Childcare, Building and Construction, Sport and Rec when industry are shut down as all are courses with significant practical requirements.

For General courses with practical components, particularly those with significant infrastructure requirements (D&T, Home Ec, Engineering etc), will have an impact on students WACE, students through no fault of their own may be unable to complete courses.

For ATAR, General and Certificate courses, SCSA may need to consider reducing WACE requirements for 2020 (fewer units required) and award units based on partial or projected completion of Unit 1.