Showing posts with label pedagogy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pedagogy. Show all posts

Sunday, December 20, 2020

The student interest test.

The student interest test is a test I try to use whenever I make a decision as a HOLA.  It's a pretty simple test as it asks the question, "Is this in the best interests of students?". If it fails this test, I am opposed to it or non committal if it is obvious it will take time to change the view of the majority.

In education we lose the majority of our graduate teachers in the first five years.  The main reason is the sink or swim approach used in most schools and by most HOLAs.  A compromise is generally made to prevent turnover of experienced teachers and prevent complaints by parents while graduate teachers are learning their craft - they are generally given classes difficult for experienced teachers: low ability classes and/or classes with behavioural challenges many of these in remote areas away from family support.

To my mind this fails the student interest test.  These are our most enthusiastic staff that bring modern techniques, are closest in age (relate) to students, understand modern issues/pop culture and bring technological capability to the classroom. It is in students interests for teachers and HOLAs to support graduate teachers such that they can perform at a level acceptable to parents and provide them with classes they are most likely to find success in.  Counter intuitively these are the students most able to learn, are good students with the fewest behavioural problems.

During the last term of the year, Year 11 and 12's are off campus leaving teachers without classes until the end of the year.  Schools reduce their relief budget by using these teachers.  There are not enough relief classes, which results in teachers having unallocated time.  Given that this is not DOTT time, I allocated tasks and deliverables to to those that preferred not to do relief, gained approval from admin and teachers commenced these tasks (with the intent to use unallocated teachers to do the relief).  Other faculties complained when they had to do Math relief whilst Maths teachers completed tasks to improve student performance.  The relief coordinator complained that she was required to give reliefs to teachers that had previously had increased non teaching time, was fielding complaints and increasingly put pressure on Math to do the tasks and provide the relief required for Maths classes.  To prevent conflict, I ceased providing tasks to teachers and Maths teachers became part of the relief pool.  This response failed the student interest test as teachers were available to do the relief, it was in the interest of students for course improvement tasks to be completed but a willingness to overcome the conflict was not present.

Mathspace cost each parent $18 per year, was used by less than half of the student group, has had no effect on standardised testing results over four years, classes of equal ability did not perform higher when using Mathspace than classes that did not, there is no research basis that ICT practice based initiatives are effective in Maths, the diagnostic information available through Mathspace was available using other means, it deskilled teachers ability to diagnose issues within a class, was being used to replace good teaching practices and was demotivating for a large number of students.  It failed the student interest test, even if it made teacher's lives easier, particularly at the end of term.  Although unpopular with teaching staff, it was removed and is set to be replaced with a tool targeting OLNA performance that has a record of assisting students with numeracy issues relating to ACSF.

Assigning assessments in Pathways by one teacher to all classes in a Pathway without a proper feedback mechanism for other teachers fails the student interest test as it provides an advantage to the teacher creating assessment, especially where there are communication issues within the faculty.  Workload arguments (such as I am writing more assessments than other teachers) fail the student interest test, as the assessments written are likely to advantage students in class of the assessment writer and result in poorer assessment outcomes than if assessment was written by all. It also limits development of teaching staff and students by not being exposed to a range of question and marking construction strategies.

Student centred learning uses evidence to improve student outcomes.  It is not always in the interest of the teacher (that have a teacher centric approach) to implement these strategies and in these cases it is important to drive the message through teacher management. A "sell", "collaborate" or "collegiate" solution is unlikely to develop as often they result in more work and disrupt the status quo. 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Keeping up and reducing doubt.

It's a hard ask keeping up sometimes. It's my first year teaching year 12 Calculus, Probability and Statistics. Your focus slips from your good year 12 kids, to the lower classes where your interest lies and all of us sudden you are faced with a crisis of confidence.

Are you good enough? Have you done enough? In a subject like maths, students need you to always be on the ball, or their confidence also suffers.

It's times like that you have to go back to basics. Do each exercise. Talk to a staff member that you trust. Get your confidence back. Maybe put some things aside for awhile.

I remember when I found out that I was on a pathway to take these classes, I wondered if I was up to the challenge, if my mathematics had risen back to that level. I argued that these kids needed the best teacher available. I still believe this should happen, but will fall in line with department wishes.

Maybe I have to rekindle some doubt in myself and do some real work to improve. It's a shame, because I'm really making some ground putting effort into my teaching capability with the lower classes. My masters research is teaching me a lot about myself and my teaching style - a teaching style that is much harder to work on with a good bunch of kids that will respond to a simple instruction.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Phones, Cameras and Facebook.

Not so long ago, the fight club issue was raised with kids after school organising fights and filming them. The infamy caused through posting these film grabs on u-tube and the damage to local schools needs to be acknowledged. It took these incidents to change the current policy (or perhaps enforce an existing one?) on mobile phone use in schools.

When mobile phones were first allowed on campus my initial thoughts were that this was a bad idea. It has proven true with sms bullying, filming of teachers and posting them on the Internet, sms'ing during class, loss and theft of phones and the like. Teachers spend a portion of each day confiscating phones and returning them, facing a barrage of abuse and pleading from students.

Information technology and personal technologies have other negative influences. The insular antisocial behaviour such as being constantly on an IPod cannot be measured. In many cases it is a way of managing a lone student (allowing them the dignity of choosing to be on their own) rather than facing the real issue of an isolate in the playground and assisting with social integration. The lone student is often subject to the worst kinds of bullying in the form of exclusion and schools must respond to this kind of treatment or face the extreme measures taken by lonely students in other areas of the world.

Facebook is another tool that causes concern. I started my own Facebook page and have had 'friend' requests from students. I declined these obviously, as a teacher is not a friend. A friend has to face issues that a teacher does not and vice-versa. To transcend this relationship is fraught with danger. Yet I had to think - am I being old fashioned? Has friendship been redefined by Facebook and become some sort of watered down acquaintance? Could it be a way of hearing about their successes and failures post school? Being conservative by nature, my original position stands.. as a male teacher, I don't think you can be too careful - watered down friendship or not.. it crosses the line.

The Internet itself in general is the great time-waster. Setting firm guidelines is required to keep students on task and maintaining standards of behaviour requires strong penalties. Yet the greatest penalty (denial of Internet) is often removed as an option as multiple classes require students to use the Internet and the same student performs the same misdemeanors in each class as they know the penalties are light.

Technology is a wonderful thing but to use it effectively is a skill. I am not sure education institutions have spent the time to master this skill and I would like to see some real evidence of where and when it is used to improve results of students.