Showing posts with label TEE. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TEE. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Subject selections

I had a call from my dad today who asked, "I've been told all along that your stepbrother is university bound by the school but I have his subject selections for year 11 and they are all level 1 subjects."

When I dug a bit further he had been counselled into 1C English, 2C Maths and some non NCOS subjects. He had been given not recommended for 3A MAT and 3A MAS and told that he would "struggle" in 2A English, 2A Physics and 2A Chemistry.

I think many parents may be getting suggestions like this soon where schools make cautious subject selections to ensure that only the best students seek university entrance and along the way maximise league table results.

This move from encouraging students to seek excellence and challenge themselves towards seeking subjects that they will definitely do well in is contrary to the human spirit (especially when many of the non NCOS subjects lead nowhere). When we seek the improbable, all too often we succeed as we have underestimated our own capabilities. So many students that develop late are currently thrown on the TEE scrap heap without being given an opportunity.

Worse still, many parents still do not understand that level 1 subjects (in general) condemn their child to TAFE and not university - with ECU now saying that level 2 subjects are minimum for entry to university. Schools are effectively moving the university entry point to year 10 rather than pushing students through the year 11/12 learning curve/ litmus test where they have a go. Many TEE students succeed/many fail but all learn about themselves from the experience.

Somewhere we gave up on our youth.. before they turn 16 we drown their dreams in politically correct statements about students finding success and designing courses suitable to their needs. Shoot, we can't even devise an assessment programme systemically that can measure their ability (yes, I am talking about the failed levelling experiment). How can we judge with 100% accuracy who will improve enough to reach university? We are failing the 5-10% of students (or maybe even more if we count those that benefit from the effort) by not making them try to extend to university levels - especially those without environmental or behavioural issues. We have an obligation to encourage them to try, extend themselves and seek excellence.

It always amazes me what kids can do when given opportunities and are taught to value them.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Hardest part of teaching

The hardest part that I find in teaching is about now... I am useless at waiting and I'm sitting here at 3am in the morning thinking about all the things my students need to know prior to sitting their university entrance examinations. All the concepts, skills and content that they need to know whizzing about keeping me awake, new methods of teaching, old ways revisited - all with the potential of being better than what we did this year.

The programme of work is finished for many year 12 courses. Now these students need to study past papers, ask questions, work together to master final concepts before sitting their mock and final exams.

Did they get through enough? Will they be ok? I've been told by many a teacher that we just do a job. Deliver, let them sit exams move onto the next cohort. I'm still pretty skeptical of this view. We're not their friends as some suggest, no doubt in many cases we become fond of them - but the academic bond is far more important than what they think of us, we live through their successes and failures. It's the nature of the job.

I suppose this first set of exams is the hardest, we want the best for their futures. Even at 16 they are still kids and any number of factors can affect their performance on the day. There are heaps of ways for them to succeed outside of this exam, but this one opportunity is a confidence builder and can be the thing that sets them on their academic pathway.

Being an idealist, the early stages of a project is the most interesting as this is the time new ideas flourish and before we get too set in our ways, we are now most open to these new ideas. The longer the idealist lasts, the greater the opportunity to do something great. We have so many opportunities - creating a legacy in the school with all sorts of kids; indigenous, troubled, high performing, from families of low academic success, sporting kids, kids that will pursue social good over money - all needing mentors and pathfinders. The school itself needs subject areas built to attract new students to the ethos of the school and its values.

Sometimes the brush fires outweigh the big picture but the big picture is where we need to keep our focus. The current feeling is that the current pay dispute needs to end and ended quickly so we can start preparing for next year in earnest. Let's hope this is what ultimately happens and a new brighter dawn in education begins.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


I must admit, being a fairly self motivated person, motivating others is not my forte. Many teachers do I much better job than I do - my primary motivational tool is ensuring student see and value success. TEE kids approaching their final exam need a bit more than this, so I had a bit of a think and did the following:

I dug out my old gown and scroll from my degree ceremony. I talked to all of the students about my goals at their age - many were absolutely ridiculous. They then each wrote ten goals of their own. Each wrote theirs on the board and stood in front of it. I took a photo of them in my old gown, cap and sash, with my degree scroll and printed the results on my little photo printer. The results are that they now have a permanent record of their goals in year 12 that more than likely they will keep. They had graduated from my goal setting session.

Hopefully it will motivate them to lift a little higher when needed.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Preparing graduate teachers for TEE exams

In Perth, we have the Tertiary Entrance Exams (TEE). This is a time of stress for new teachers and students alike. If you are a graduate teacher naturally you start to question whether you have done enough to get your students over the line. I covered the yr 12 Discrete course for five students this year (quite a soft entrance to teaching university bound students), but like most teachers we all want our students to succeed and get a good TER(Tertiary Entrance Ranking - score between 1 & 100 derived from scaled TEE exams) for 'front door' university entry.

[I can hear teachers in Perth saying there are no more TEE exams with the new courses of study(NCOS), but there are still external exams at the end of the final school year and it is the paradigm that we are most familiar with.]

Nonetheless graduate teachers can at this time feel the stress of performance as failure may relegate them to lesser classes for some time. It's probably a good time to give graduate teachers a day of real PD or reflection (preferably with access or guidance from a senior staff member) to gather themselves and prepare materials for TEE students for their run home. I hope when graduate teachers put their hand up they will be listened to; and graduates that are 'low profile' are being monitored and looked after.

We've been lucky in that our Discrete group of students have worked hard and agreed to meet before school regularly to complete old TEE questions and have used the great Saddler texts that have been around a long while (that include constant revision miscellaneous exercises). It's also great that the TEE Discrete course is underdone in the amount of required content in comparison to yr 11 preparatory (foundations) course. Oh, as an old course - it's the second last year it will be run and examined for university entry.

Which leads to the problems of the new year 11 2009 where we are running semesterised 1b,1c,2a,2b,2c,2d,3a MAT, 3b MAT, 3a MAS, 3b MAS courses which are 10 new courses of study, no texts available, no written class assessment and limited sample exam material. If I was a first year graduate falling into year 11 (rather than my soft entry yr12 Discrete course with a plethora of materials/experience of teachers/known student pitfalls/existing performance levels) I would be more concerned. Add to that learning how to use and teach with the new CAS calculators effectively.. it adds another layer of difficulty - especially if the calculators themselves are meant to increase the non-computational difficulty of the courses.

Click here to visit the Tertiary Institutions Service Centre (TISC) for more information about tertiary entrance exams in WA.