Sunday, December 5, 2010

Increase in WACOT fees

WACOT fees have been increased by $6 to pay for increased costs of disciplinary actions and registration costs of teachers to $76 per year. This means that 3.5 million dollars is required to run WACOT or ~46 FTE at $76000 per year. Net gain to those paying the fee - really... nil.

According to Brian Lindberg (chairman of the board at WACOT) in a recent email to all teachers:

"The increase in the Annual Fee should be seen in the context of the development of the College. Bi-partisan political support was given to a discussion paper on teacher registration in 1999. "

Can you believe it is 2010 and they are still needing to justify their existence?

"Based on the 348 submissions, a Position Paper was published in 2000. It indicated that there was wide support for a non-industrial body for teachers providing that its activities would be wider than just the regulation of the teaching profession."

Not within the teaching fraternity - and given the lack of teacher involvement during formative years and questionable independence of the body it is no wonder.

"In responding to the Discussion Paper teachers indicated a preference for a body that was independent of employers and the Minister of the day, and that had a majority of elected teachers on the Board of Management."

Another reminder about how long our ineffective body delayed this happening and that our body is not independent!!

"The Board kept faith with all the recommendations and desires of teachers despite having concerns that it would be difficult to carry out all ten functions of the College without Government financial support or much higher annual fees. "

Grin - yes, we wanted value for money because we could see that this was just a way to make us pay for something we already had. Sheeting the blame back to teachers because we were right is hardly fair although predictable. I imagine only one of the 10 functions serves a purpose and that is to keep questionable members out of the profession. That is a regulatory action and should come out of tax dollars (as it is primarily an action in the interest of the public) not through a reduction in pay. Why should employees pay to police the misdeeds of a few?

"Accordingly, the Board will concentrate the functions of the College on registration and discipline only until all 46,000 re-registrations are completed." Why does it cost $76 per year for a police check to be done and a register to be maintained of teachers that have had disciplinary action?

I'm a little confused how reducing the role of WACOT to registrations and discipline will cause a $6 increase and wonder what the cast of thousands in Ascot that were doing the other 8 functions are now doing. Given that much is done electronically and most registrations should require nothing to be done by WACOT - only inefficiency can be to blame.

Most annoying things that WACOT have or have not done (regardless of who is to blame):
  • Waste money on glossy brochures (now stopped)
  • Re-registration requiring full 100 pt check again
  • Pointless accredititation process lacking any credibility
  • Organise discounts for things I don't need
  • Lack of real independance or voice on teaching matters
  • Involvement with conferences for beginning teachers (leave this to private enterprise until truly independent to prevent political interference)
Most useful thing done by WACOT
  • Prevention of accreditation of short teaching courses in WA
If a review was done, I would love to know how many people are needed at WACOT throughout the whole year (rather than just between October and February when most registrations are required to be done).

My guess is that not many are required to produce not much.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Making errors!!

Sometimes long time errors can sneak up on you and beat you over the head. I have avoided the term bar graph for a few years and was under the misconception that the width of the bar has as much meaning as the height. I always use the term column graph for discrete data drawn in bars.

I have no idea where this misconception comes from, but I will have a look through texts I have used over the last few years - I must have misread one of them (I did find a strange Histogram in one of my stat books when width of the columns was important to do with graphing different sized class boundaries). This all would have been fine if I had figured it out myself.

That would have been too easy.. Of course I was asked the question by my HoD whilst he was teaching his class and using my room (as it was air conditioned and empty) and I corrected him calling it a column graph (cringe). I should have known he was right - as he is rarely wrong.. I had to come back and eat some humble pie..

That's life I suppose.. I'm glad it doesn't happen too often!

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Greenfoot is another attempt to bring programming to students. It has a textbook that can be purchased and an established user group. It is well worth a look if starting a computer programming class and you wish to use Java.

Here is a link:

Have a look


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Hattie's Meta-analysis

Hattie's meta analysis is something as teachers we will hear a lot about. It is a study that brings together a wealth of research in one place. We won't hold it against him that he did it in New Zealand.

My reading of his findings is that he finally cuts through the nonsense and gets to the core of what makes a difference beyond what is normally done in the classroom and also what is detrimental to a normal classroom.

It is an astounding in that it confirms what many crusty teachers have called the "bloody obvious" and stripped away the rhetoric. His commentary on his statistics is well thought out and constructive. I feel a bit for these teachers that have felt the brunt of the new wave of teaching (that fell flat well before the shore). They were right and all you new wavers were wrong. :-)

Well.. it's not quite like that, but here are some of his findings.

d= -0.1 - 0.16 (what a student would learn if not in a classroom)
d= 0.16 - .4 (benchmark of a normal classroom)
d= .4 + (desired improvement beyond a normal classroom)

Improvements can be made by:
  • Having a cohesive classroom (0.53) p.103
  • Maintaining a positive climate (0.52) p.102
  • Strong teacher-student relationships (0.72) p.118
  • Teacher clarity (0.75) p.126
  • Clear goals (0.56) p.164
  • Concept mapping (0.57) p.168
  • Mastery Learning (0.58) p.170
  • Effective Feedback (0.73) p.173
  • Worked examples (0.57) p.172
  • Formative evaluation of teaching programs (0.9) p.181
  • Questioning (0.46) p.182
  • Spaced practice (0.71) p.186
  • Peer tutoring (0.55) p.186
  • Effective study skills (0.59) p.189
  • Meta cognitive strategies (0.69) p.189
  • Self verbalisation and questioning (0.64) p.193
  • Direct instruction (0.74) p.204
  • Problem Solving teaching (0.61) p.210
  • Interactive video (0.52) p.228 (such as mathsonline)

Things that don't work:

  • Student control over learning (0.04) p.193
  • Individualised instruction (0.23) p.198
  • Inquiry based teaching (0.31) p.209
  • Problem based learning (0.15) p.211
  • Cooperative learning (0.41) p.212
  • Team teaching (0.19) p.219
  • Computer assisted learning (0.37) p.220
  • Web based learning (0.18) p.227
  • Audio Visual (0.22) p. 229 such as slides, video presentations
  • Distance education (0.09) p.232
  • Home schooling (0.16) p.234

One reservation that I have is that it is hard to evaluate where the quick wins could be for a school. A number of small gains (such as the 0.45's) may require less change than a large gain. Some of the strategies that are not achievement driven may provide motivation to complete higher gains in other areas. I don't think it was ever Hattie's intent to make it a recipe book for success, but can give clear indicators to where effort needs to be made.

The book is well worth a read:

Visible Learning : A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. John Hattie. Routledge 2009.