Showing posts with label low ability students. Show all posts
Showing posts with label low ability students. Show all posts

Sunday, July 7, 2019

One person can make a difference

I've had "One person can make a difference" written on my door for the last nine months.  It's a reminder that much that is done in a school starts with one person.  It's a statement supported by Hattie in his indication that teacher impact has the largest effect on student learning. My latest project shows the power of one person running with an idea.

With my current period as Deputy, returning to my role as 11/12 coordinator and with the start of a new Principal, it's important to find the next thing that keeps you motivated.  Schools aren't a place where you can rely on your line manager to identify what that might be, so it's important to be on the lookout for it.

For me, the main thing that will change is the return to the classroom for four periods a week, as I haven't taught whilst being Deputy, other than the odd bit of tutoring students that come to my office.  I've been given  a dysfunctional Maths class, the most challenging class in the school and one that needed further assistance.  I've had some practicum students who have been observing them for me and we have a great team generated and some defined outcomes that we seek to achieve.

It's something that I would suggest to any educator that has more than three years of experience.  Find a project, if one comes to an end, find another project - something that will drive your motivation and keep you engaged.  It's a great way to be noticed in the school and can create some great collaborative activities that keeps the mind working and prevents you becoming stale in your role.

Better still, if you can make something that has a lasting effect beyond your involvement.  I've been lucky to have had a few of these, maths summer school, mathematics academy, ICT committee, this blog, after school music classes, the boys group, the interact club - but I've also had my set of failures to go with them, projects that have died a slow death.   Don't become disheartened if your project does not have the take-up that you thought it would.  Be supportive of others if they are trying to get their project up and running.

This current project is a doozy though.  To think I could go in as a teacher and just fix things based on my teaching experience would be fairly egotistical and prone to failure - after all they have had an experienced teacher all year.  To succeed we need to try something different.  I've had a bee in my bonnet about "imputed disabilities" and reporting to "year level achievement standards all year".  Ann eMarie Benson at SCSA made the comment to me that if 2/3 of the students at your school cannot meet year level achievement standards, then your school is doing something wrong, and it is something that has stuck with me.  We have some intervention work to do.

I was lucky enough to do the SEN reporting at the start of the year and discovered a tool that might be able to provide the glue for the project.  Coupled with the SCSA K-10 scope and sequence document, it provided the broad brush to create IEPs for the 25 students in the class. By using PAT tests and NAPLAN results I was able to identify where the class was and with help from the Semester 1 teacher I laid out a programme of work for term three that complemented work done in Semester 1.  My practicum students observed the class over the past three weeks and collated their predominant behaviours and attention spans across different learning areas and noted in which classes they were most dysfunctional.  The school Psychologist is working closely with me for the first week to identify desired classroom behaviours.  We created seating plans and a list of desired behaviours.

Now, as I said - it is not about just going into the class and doing good teaching, they have had that.  It's about intervention, which by definition is something different.  The next step was to identify resources that were available to assist driving learning.  The school has no new resources available at this time of year (thus I'm being deployed to the class as the best available resource), I have the semester 1 teacher remaining with me, but have identified a couple of ex-students studying teaching that have agreed to come in and work.  The local university has also pledged teaching students to pop in and assist as my skills in k-7 teaching are limited and I will need to do some heavy lifting to get up to speed and assist them assist the kids.

In any success driven class we need strong feedback loops indicating the level of success achieved.  For this I have gone old school and printed A1 posters for the wall indicating each student has 14 tasks to overcome this term and bought gold circles to paste up.  Some would see this as public shaming, but the 14 tasks are individualised and noted in the IEPs - if we have set the outcomes correctly, then this could drive a little competition and could be a strong success indicator to kids.  We also used the observations done to drive classroom behaviours through a four point behaviour poster which controversially uses some negative language (the PBIS language is missing, but has been ineffectual in semester 1 anyway), it's something I will need to monitor to see if it works.  If the posters don't work - it's ok! We just rip them down.  I've put the IEP in student portfolios so that they know what we are trying to achieve - and each assessment goes in there so that it can be looked back at as a path from what they knew to what they know now.  NCCD quality teaching ideas can easily be embedded in the interventions for each student attempted by myself or associated teaching staff.  Staff from outside the class that have seen that these kids are at risk have pledged their support.  We have pens, books and other resources to limit avoidant behaviours.  They have watched me suspend students all semester - so I come in with authority, now I need to develop a caring rapport to match.

I have worked with the English HOLA and Principal to indicate that this is a model that does not have an overhead, uses resources that are available, lives with the student (SEN reports can be used and progress from 8-10) - it is a low risk project that can be supported.  I'm not sure if this is destined to be a failed project or a success - but I'm keen to attempt something that has not been successful in the past and create a new string for the school that parents and the school can crow about.  It's important that communication to parents from the beginning is strong and continuous - especially as much of the contact to date has been behaviour related and class reports were for the most part indicating limited progress and students that are behind.  Here is the potential for the school response to be vigorous and effective (and maybe even recognised as a good solution for others to model).

.. and if you have a chance to work with practicum students, do it.  Yes you will get the occasional plonker, but on the whole they can fire you up and help you achieve work you cannot do on your own.  The current pair have certainly done that and can run with an idea (and generate some great ones through observation) once it is seeded and hopefully get a good appreciation of what is possible.  Without them, we wouldn't be this far down the track without teaching a lesson. Yay!