Sunday, December 29, 2019

Three Games - Machi Koro, My First Carcassonne and Arkham Horror 3rd Ed

Machi Koro (G Rated)

I played this with my 10 year old and her grandparents.  A simple card game where you build a city engine that is run by dice.  Easy to learn and quick to play although it does have a finite life as it does get samey after a few plays.  Don't let the name fool you, it's all in easy to read English. A four player game that could definitely work in the classroom as it should play under an hour.

A couple of take-that elements to teach resilience and gamesmanship, some text and literacy, some optimisation and a little strategy.

Recommended for early to late teens.

Found online, at stores like Gamesworld or your local friendly hobby store.

My First Carcassonne (G rated)

I'm playing this with my 7 year old.  It's a tile laying game with some counting, network laying, creation of closed networks and simple optimisation strategies.  5-10 minutes long.  She often wants to play 3-4 games.  No literacy skills required.  Nice big chunky meeple.

She can now beat me reliably using basic strategies and is ready to move to full Carcassonne.  It was a great way to get her to want to play games (the harder games turned her off playing).

Recommended for getting young children interested in play based learning.

Reasonably easily located online (try Milsims, gamesEmpire or eBay).

Arkham Horror 3rd edition (M15+ Rated)

I'm playing this with my wife.  The game drips with theme and lots of text.  Takes 1.5 - 2hrs to play which limits its use in school unless able to leave setup over multiple days in a safe location.  Lots of bits and takes ages to set up and take down.  Would need to know the game thoroughly and enjoy it to play with high school age students.

Although the occult theme is attractive to students, parents may not be happy with the theme.  Be best checking first.  It's not gruesome or sex filled, but has demons, spells and the like.  If you are familiar with HP Lovecraft, it's based in the C'thulu mythos.

The game is really good and quick to learn for all its complexity. The mechanics and bits everywhere look great on the table but do overwhelm the gameplay from time to time, but with familiarity, it will hopefully become less overwhelming- especially during the mythos phase.

I'm not sure if I prefer this edition or the 2nd edition but given the old edition is getting hard to find, I'd stick with the new edition as new expansions are likely. 

From a learning perspective, it has a high literacy component, potential for roleplay, lots of instructional text, an algorithmic approach to turns and optimisation in managing the various aspects of play to solve the mystery before becoming overwhelmed by the mythic creatures.  Online tutorials such as Beccy Scott can be a great way to learn the game.

Recommended to play with your own teenage kids or your partner.

Found online, at stores like Gamesworld or your local friendly hobby store.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Writing an application - unwritten rules

To begin with, I think it is awful that we have a process where it is considered ok to have unwritten rules.  Thankfully there are schools that still have fair processes, but, as predicted many years ago, the  rise of independent public schools has resulted in unfair practices (processes that meet PSC guidelines in a limited fashion).

There are a number of unwritten rules that lead to some staff getting interviews and others not, purely on the way selection criteria/CV's are constructed and subsequently read.  The information on the jobsWA website on each application is very limited compared to what is actually being done to get roles.

The first unwritten rule is (to my mind) the most unfair.  The buzz term in resourcing schools is 'projection' into the role.  Projection requires you to answer questions as if you were in the role.  I'm not sure how this meets the Equity or Merit criteria for applications as it gives an unfair advantage to the incumbent and tells you little about what they have done (only what they would do based on model answers).  Some would say this is fair as having knowledge of the context is a part of assessing an applicant, but that could be taken into account in their interview answers. By limiting answers in selection criteria to "projecting" and not "actual experience" in roles that may deviate from the requirements of the role, it diminishes the value of a person with diverse experience and agility to move with requirements. It rewards responses with maintenance of the status quo through private knowledge, current unwritten objectives and agreement with existing practices.

The second unwritten rule is to abide by the word limit.  The word limit rewards someone with intimate knowledge of the school as they can be concise in answering questions in a way that solves problems within the school through projection.  It is harder as a non incumbent (an equity issue again) to identify what would meet school requirements thus requires further explanation to scatter gun what is required.

The third unwritten rule is to write SAO's or some other version of situation/action/outcome.  They are typically wordy and you are not sure which SAO will meet school requirements.  Be too specific and it looks like you have limited experience, be too general and you are not indicating how you solved the problem. Have too many and you have issues with the second rule.

The fourth unwritten rule is you can't expect inference from the CV.  An extreme example would be answering a leadership question in the selection criteria and not discussing chairing the curriculum team because it was not specific to the SAO used.  Some panels will not infer your experience from your CV if it is not specifically in the selection criteria.  A lack of inference (checked at interview) is being addressed at panel training, but is still common practice in schools.

The fifth unwritten rule is to make it as easy as possible for the panel to identify you as a worthy candidate.  Do not use a lot of bold, but bolding where you are attempting to meet selection criteria makes it easier for the panel to see that you have met the criteria (or attempted to answer the question).

"As a leader in the school, it was required ...", "In addressing financial requirements ..."

The sixth unwritten rule is not to read from your notes at interview.  I learned this at my last two wins and am not sure this is a universal rule.  In each case I had the questions in front of me (and only the questions), brought a bundle of notes (that I did not look at, but did review prior to the interview) and attempted to project how the panel would interact with me if I was in the job.

The seventh unwritten rule is that typically the panel will not talk to you during the interview other than to read the questions.  This may be an attempt to maintain a level playing field, but makes it difficult to know if you are answering the question.  Look for when they go to write something as this can be an indication you are on the right track.  A good teacher engages in conversations with students to create a rapport, for many of us, a one sided conversation is not natural and can diminish the ranking of an applicant.  It requires practice.  It's an odd way to assess cultural fit, to my mind the most important part of the interview process.

The eighth unwritten rule is to call the school before the selection criteria to get extra information.  WTF.  This practice is not universal (try taking calls from 90 applicants) but more common in leadership positions.  The couple of times I did it, I was asked what did I want to know? (I don't know what I don't know), or given general information that I could read online.  It felt like an imposition and I stopped doing it.  I think this is done to overcome the Equity issues outlined above with projection requirements but is commonly given advice in feedback.

The ninth unwritten rule is to call for feedback.  Do this.  Some people are wonderful at this and already have it prepared for you as it is a very common practice.  Assess what they say and amend your application.

The tenth unwritten rule is to get assistance writing your application.  Sadly the process is often the best applications get the interview and subsequently the best applicants do not get the job.  After all, good teachers stay put and do not job hop, thus do not have a lot of experience in application writing. Your only hope of avoiding "learning the required way to construct an application by trial and error", is to find someone that has recently managed to navigate the system. Find a recent "successful" applicant - say in the last 6 months and get them to read your application. Get their application to model from.

The eleventh unwritten rule is that if timelines are short, it is likely the school is wanting the incumbent and seeks to limit the time available for other applicants to tailor their selection criteria.  Prioritise the jobs with longer timeframes (if possible) or have an absolute standout and matched application ready for common positions (LA teacher, HOLA, SS, Deputy) for specific contexts (disadvantaged, LSC, high performance etc).  If you win, be prepared to have a disgruntled staff member that may have been promised the position, but the risk of appeal was too high to give them the position.

The twelfth unwritten rule is to let it be known to safe leaders that you are seeking another position and to keep an ear out for you.  Leaders talk and can put a good word in for you.  In many cases they will be asked about you off the record and be able to assess you against other candidates. Pick your time for leaving in advance, so that you leave on good terms (not just leaving because you hate everything and are discontent with the profession) and these references show you in the best light.  I don't know why performance management records are not available during reference checks - it's likely to avoid union issues and potential for bullying, but would make the process fairer if done properly as it would give an indication of your performance over time.

The last rule is a written rule but one worth keeping in mind.  Do your basic research and as with any job, tailor your selection criteria to it.  The Business Plan (school website), Annual Report (schools online website), school demographics and comparison data with your current school (mySchools website) have information that provides feedback on how your experience aligns with school requirements.  This is not projection, (where you are required to interpret this information and apply it in the new context - which biases the process), but allows you to identify what experiences you have may apply in your new context and outline those to put you in the best light.  Also if you are a grad, get into the grad pool.  No I mean it, do it now, it's a palaver but we are looking for you.

Not doing these things means that you have to hope that the school you are applying to runs a fair panel.  I've been lucky as the unwritten rules leave a bad taste in my mouth (leading to me trying to buck the system and write applications that allow the reader to see if I am a potential match from what I have done rather than construct a matchy application that may stretch the truth) and I am a big fan of centralised staffing (despite the inherent weaknesses of centralisation) as practices such as those above, to my mind, are counter productive and could be relatively easily overcome using performance data instead.

Good luck and I hope this helps.

Ps: Here's an earlier post after my last interview process in 2012.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

So what comes next?

Career management is an interesting problem in education.  Back in the day, a five year plan was probably sufficient to guide a young teacher through the first steps in education.

Year 1 - survival.  It doesn't matter that you are doing long hours and are losing the will to live.  Find a good mentor.  Talk about your issues.  As the new cab off the rank, your classes are likely to suck and will be a mishmash of whatever the grid throws at you.  Don't complain.  Don't overcomplicate it.    The classes you've been given are impossible to manage properly so use every trick you can think of to connect with the students and stop them piling out the door and annoying student services.  Get on a CMIS Course and learn some low key strategies. Bubble with enthusiasm.  If the year was too traumatic and you caused too much chaos, quickly move to another school and don't make so many mistakes this time.  Resist the urge to relief teach unless you can't get a proper gig.

Year 2 - critical times.  Classroom management should now be in order.  If you haven't managed to annoy anyone, they should be feeling sorry for you after the horror story you were dealt in your first year.  With slightly better classes, start to get your resources in order and start understanding how content fits together.  Your eyes will be sunken into your face and you will look slightly haggard, that sinking feeling that you made a mistake and teaching isn't what you thought it would be will occur.  This is the hump.  Embrace it.. generally speaking it gets better from here, Year 3 will be easier.

Year 3 - content mastery.  If you are finally teaching the same class twice, you will be starting to see how the content fits together in a way teachable to your kids.  There will be bad days when you just want to do your job but the kids will just not do what they should.  Little buggers.  Now that you've been deemed competent, the evil bastard doing timetabling will give you a horror mix of classes.  You will laugh in his/her face and get through the year with a semblance of sanity remaining and possibly looking ten years older than you are.  All those people that told you year 3 was easier are also evil lying bastards.

Year 4 - What the F%$4 happened.  This is when you look back and can't remember the names of students from year 1 but things are looking up. Those evil lying bastards knew something that you didn't know. Something clicks and you realise that teaching is a bit formulaic after you have content and behaviour mastery and you can start doing things you had hoped possible in your first year.  A smile returns to your face (though it possibly cracks when you try for the first time in four years).  Understand where you sit in the queue of better classes / opportunities at the school.  Don't get sad if someone else gets something you want, just figure out how they did it and be ready for the next one.  If you haven't already, start asking for that ATAR class.  If that evil lying bastard is around, thank them for guiding you and ensuring that you are ok.

Year 5 - Get Out. If you are still in the same place, get your butt into application mode and seek a school with better conditions than the one you are in.  Get your resume and CV done.  Get involved in the 'write your selection criteria' meetings with Exec.  Understand what opportunities that exist that float your boat.  By doing this, the school sees potential and one of two things happen - either promotional opportunities occur locally, or you take all your new found skills elsewhere and start again on the same cycle (though hopefully shorter).  Check to see if that evil lying bastard is willing to referee for you and will tell others how you are the best thing that ever happened to the education system; hopefully they are your line manager.  Year 5 is the critical step for career progression, it refreshes your enthusiasm, provides challenge and is the basis of any 5 year plan.

Years 6-10.  Look at what you want to do next and start doing it in your current role.  Aspire to HOLA?  Work on programmes and get a place on the curriculum committee.  Take a praccie and practice those management skills.  Join the social, board or ball committee.  Be active and gather more advocates for your career.  Don't sit back and wait for it to happen.  Volunteer for that two week role, lead the student council, anything that makes that CV align with your next chosen role.  Do some interviews, get interview skills and your CV right.   Your first interview is likely to suck. You won't be ready for that role you really want if you don't do the hard work early.  Don't get stuck in a school unless there are serious opportunities for progression.  It's harder than Year 2 but more rewarding at times.  Beware giving up teaching student time (it's an easy trap to fall into) - it's the buzz in teaching, without it, you can start again to wonder where the satisfaction is, even if it is a bit easier.  Students may make your hair flame in burning angst but they are also why we enter into this thing.

After that you'll have to ask someone that has successfully navigated it.  I'm still figuring it out too, although on a fairly accelerated trajectory. Have fun!

Friday, November 8, 2019

Looking back at 2019

So when I look back at 2019 I see a successful year.
  • Deputy for the majority of the year
  • Supported three different Principals
  • Assisted students find alternate pathways where required
  • Navigated difficult cases working with Department of Communities, Department of Justice, Participation and Engagement resulting in positive outcomes for students
  • Led the Course Counselling team
  • Led the Curriculum team
  • Completed the 2020 timetable (undone)
    • Created a MAG class for 7/8 to assist low literacy numeracy students in 2020 (undone)
    • Implemented the Student Council Form Class
    • Implemented a lower school specialised basketball programme
    • Created a focus on Endorsed Programmes (undone)
    • Changed the mode of the period 25 class to reduce FTE requirements (undone)
    • All teachers on load (undone)
  • Created a focus on NCCD intervention (unlikely to continue)
  • Worked with teachers in performance management group to raise awareness of opportunities and strengths
  • Managed the NNEI relationship
  • Named a fellow by Rotary for services to education and welfare of students
  • Started the Guitar group and a boardgame group with students (unlikely to continue)
  • Continued to work with the low mood boys group (unlikely to continue)
  • Developed an understanding of SENN reporting and implemented it for a whole year 7 class
  • Mentored two social work Practicum students
  • Navigated some difficult staffing issues to conclusion
  • Maintained a calm approach in Senior School
  • Organised the achievers club with 80 students on B averages (a rise from 50 in semester 1)
  • Developed the business plan reporting tool and managed the addition of information to the tool
  • Completed 5 job applications, 2 interviews, 1 job
Update (edit above): Sadly, a lot was undone when I returned to my current role due to a host of reasons, (including leaving for a new role in a new school).

Sunday, September 22, 2019

High School Boardgames

It's been a while since I have written on board games successful with high school students.  While I still have favourites in my repertoire, a few new ones are being used to good effect.

Recently we have been playing Warhammer 40 Killteam, a skirmish based war-game after school.  Kids can now play the majority of the rules during a game, takes about an hour and is a bit of fun.  Cost of entry is a big concern unless you have a Warhammer person on staff and use their stuff.  Playing, painting, assembling, learning rules is part of the fun.  Warhammer stores offer school based offers from time to time.

Deception, Murder in Hong Kong has become my go to Cluedo/Werewolf, type game over Spyrun.  It's simple, can be learned fast, is easy to get your hands on, and is less than an hour to play.

5 Minute Marvel/Dungeon is a quick game, runs to a timer and gets a bit of excitement in the room.  Students have to refine their strategy as the enemies get stronger.

Together with Blokus, Citadels, SET, Ticket to Ride Europe, Apples to Apples, Dixit, Carcassone, Claustrophobia, King of Tokyo/New York, Triazzle; games in a classroom can become a whole class or small group activity that develops a classroom and builds social skills.

Thursday, September 12, 2019


In a small school, timetabling is a delicate balancing act.  If too many resources are placed in maintaining ATAR classes, limited resources are available for the lower school or for the majority in General or Certificate based courses.  If too few resources are placed in ATAR courses, students lack the diversity of subjects required to fully engage them to achieve their best.  It also can limit the career progression of teachers seeking positions in other schools as they lack the experience teaching ATAR courses.

The previous core of subjects (Maths II/III (in whatever incarnation Methods/Specialist, 3ABCD MAS/3ABCD MAT), Physics, Chemistry, English/English Literature, History) now has a few alternates with Politics and Law, Computer Science, Human Biology that can challenge the traditional big six for getting a high ATAR score.  Language bumps and min/maxing Mathematics Applications (Discrete, Maths I) could also provide avenues for success.  To provide a core of subjects can be costly when 10-16 students are involved in each ATAR cohort.

Timetabling is difficult in these circumstances.  Split 11/12 classes or combined General/ATAR courses become more common.  In our case we share courses with neighbouring schools and bus kids back and forth, using a pair of double periods (one after school) to minimise busing and disruption to the general timetable.  SIDE becomes an option where class sizes reduce below 5.  It is very important to have teacher buy-in to prevent resistance and disruption to learning.

Important to success is careful planning during course counselling.  Choices for students need to be limited to what can be delivered.  Failing to do this effectively results in a bloated grid or considerable disappointment and re-counselling of students when subjects are not offered.  This process requires long lead times and making accurate predictions on the nature of each cohort prior up to two years before a cohort hits upper school.

To maintain teacher morale, it is important that the needs of an individual are considered when assigning teachers to classes.  Planning must be in place through performance management and career planning.  A degree of equity is required to ensure that challenging classes academically and challenging classes behaviourally are shared. Strong vs compliant personalities need to be considered.  Promises made must be adhered to, to maintain credibility - especially hard as these can be made to past timetablers, HOLAs, Principals or "just be in the head of a teacher" as a fair response to a difficult prior year.

SCSA requirements through the CAR policy in year 7 and 8 has put pressure on the grid. Requirements for digital design, performing arts, visual arts, computing and soon languages puts pressure to maintain specialist teachers within the school, typically with less than a full FTE requirement.  This results in an increase of teachers teaching out of area or on reduced loads.  The alternative is to have more multi-skilled teachers and to create "teacher based solutions" that are hard to refill if the teacher moves on.

Specialist teachers in key areas (such as Certificate delivery, Physics, Specialist Sport, Dance, D&T, Media, Visual Art) can be hired on reduced loads, but typically request 0.8 FTE over four days.  With four to five people like this in a timetable, this is difficult to grid in a small school, requiring careful consideration to prevent lopsiding grids with subjects not evenly distributed across the week, creating situations where teachers have multiple days without breaks or a subject being repeatedly delivered during the last period of the day.

Requests to reduce load to cater to family requirements, mental health or in preparation for retirement are common.  With childcare costs similar to working costs, requests for fulldays rather than 0.8 over 5 days has significant proportions of staff on reduced load.

With diluted specialisation (if sharing a specialist subject such as Methods between multiple teachers), a teacher may only get to teach a subject once every two to three years.  This does not lend itself to the level of specialisation typically required to be able to accurately grade and design assessment materials.  This has created an increased reliance on purchased assessments (which are regularly compromised through sharing on social media) and small group moderation.  Small group moderation puts additional pressure on teachers as there is an overhead mantaining these relationships successfully.

More recently the need to use endorsed programmes to supplement WACE has become more prevalent.  Leadership, Sporting, Performing Arts and Workplace Learning skills developed by teachers requires individuals to deliver particular courses as only they have the expertise and patience required to monitor, manage evidence and deliver the programmes within the school, limiting where these individuals can be used on the grid.

Other considerations also drive the timetable. Marketing a school is important (put effective teachers in year 7/8 or risk reduced numbers from reputation loss), remediation through extra resourcing or multi-age grouping, extension classes, capacity building, balancing electives come to mind.

Understanding these factors, and the skill base of each teacher is the domain of the timetabler.  A skilled timetabler in a school manages this with ballet-like grace and few understand the surprise that comes with a grid finally coming together.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Staff and student wellbeing

Developing a positive culture at a high school is an ongoing task.  Transience, cohort changes, workload, personalities, religious beliefs and perceived racism, perceived sexism, competence, home life, mental health, physical health, systemic change, leadership styles can all influence the "mood score" of a school.

Most schools are currently grappling with the Aboriginal cultural standards framework.  Some schools will be grappling with societal changes (eg. changing the way the issue is viewed in society) as they will have few, if any Aboriginal students in the school. There will be many people in these environments that believe the whole project is a minor inconvenience that can be for the most part ignored.

In our environment this is not true.  How we embed these ideas in the school will impact the mood of the whole school.  We're probably a little bit ahead of the game, which allows agencies to think we are a solution that will work for at-risk students.  Unfortunately that is not always true as these interactions require intensive support for success, support that is already stretched between the competing needs of the school.

There is that balance in resourcing for us that needs to examined as individual students can disrupt the learning of large number of students.  Although, through the framework we can assist these students, over time, in some extreme cases (like with any other student from any other nationality) the needs of the individual exceeds the ability of a school to respond to their needs and external help is required.  For these students, the ping pong between agencies begins as they see the best solution as a child in a school, but the school sees the situation as untenable as they put students, staff and themselves at risk when they enter school grounds due to their current circumstance.

The ability of teachers to deal with the individual needs of a student is not equal across a school.  Identifying new areas of challenge(weaknesses) and then working with teachers to resolve them is a delicate process, challenging established practices and then examining and redirecting to develop alternate practices.  Trauma informed practice, culturally informed practices, perceived racism in practices, perceived favouritism toward students, perceived sexism in practices, gender related practices (a relatively new phenomenon to deal with) all require a delicate touch, to confront someone after a complaint to challenge the way they teach can go as deep as personal identity which can result in emotional and aggressive responses.

Although teachers are relatively static in a school, year 12 cohorts leave and year 7 cohorts enter each year.  This results in a leaving of the leadership of the school, the most competent in a school leaving each year and a whole new group becoming embedded in the culture.  With the varying skill levels of teachers in year 7, this can impact the school for a significant period.  Students transitioning to school have siblings in feeder primary schools and this, more than any other factor, impacts on the enrolments at a school.  These are the parents giving feedback to new parents in each feeder primary school.  No amount of marketing will overcome the response of existing parents leaving the school or repeating that the school has an issue with fighting, bullying, drug use, poor teaching practices etc.

The one line budget has put significant strain on small schools, struggling to maintain ATAR classes, struggling with high class numbers and struggling to provide high levels of support to students with all the issues that low-socioeconomic areas bring in financially struggling, high levels of mental health concerns, limited parenting, low support for education, high levels of drug use in the home, and with considerable parts of welfare dependent cohorts.  Many of these categories are not covered through the one line budget outside of broad groups such as EALD, Aboriginal and Islander students, and Intellectual disabilities.  The use of one line funds to maintain additional school Psychologist time in particular is one drain on a budget.  To fund extra class resources, Professional Development is being done in-house as much as possible, external agencies are being brought into schools in an increasing rate (which feels a bit like money shuffling as all the money comes from the same place), requiring additional management time to do properly.

The story here is only the beginning which shows how complex and underdeveloped my understanding is of the issues we face.  I suppose the point is that school culture changes glacially as nothing seems to occur in a vacuum and very few simplistic solutions can have an impact across a school - all we can do is look for wins in certain areas, make sure they don't move resources from something that is already working and measure the effect.  A school has a simple goal at it's heart ("teaching kids well") but have allowed themselves to become much more and we may need to reconsider some of the roles that schools play to gain traction again with the idea that "high care, high expectations, high results" is narrow enough in its scope to do well.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Back as Deputy again... .. and the NCCD list

So that little sojourn back as Dean of Studies lasted all of two weeks and I'm back as deputy again, this time under the new Principal.  This is the fourth Principal in 12 years, each having their own quirks, and I imagine wondering what the hell is this upstart talking about now and why do I have to deal with him.

A pet hate has always been implementing things just to tick a box or because an actual solution likely to succeed is too hard.   It becomes quickly evident through my body language when I feel this is the case.   The current solution for "students identified through NCCD requiring additional support" may fall into this category, although the verdict is still out on the current solution. Students were identified and then pedagogy based solutions written up in documents outlining what will be done for them.  There is acknowledgement in staff that the current solutions are not working and more needs to be done to engage them.

My only beef with the current solution is that it appears more about documenting the existing modifications that are "good practice and good teaching" and should be done (regardless of being written up), rather than identifying strategies that will make a difference to a particular student different to the general needs of the group as a whole.

To my mind (as little as it is), the problem requires a multidisciplinary approach.  As a teacher I do not know the ins and outs of every intellectual disability or behavioural challenge (and in many cases I don't care about the diagnosis), I just want to know how to work best with my kids.  This knowledge is held by school Psychologists and Paediatricians and then provided to me through the school Psych, Student Services or a Deputy.  Best practice would say that it then goes into an IEP in conjunction with teachers of other LA's to make a consistent approach where possible.

With the NCCD kids, they may not have a diagnosis but we (as teachers) suspect that something is going wrong.  My issue with the approach on Friday at our PD day was that we were asking teachers for solutions - in most cases they had already tried what they knew (and thus indicated that something was wrong that required additional assistance).  A better approach (to my mind) is to look at standardised testing results, class results, psych files and then work with the care team to identify possible solutions for the student in the context of the whole class.  Working on individuals does not create a workable solution in a class as it does not take into account class dynamics, the biggest factor outside of appropriate content in engaging students.  This means that you will be looking at the whole class at once and developing IEPs for groups of students.  The class that I am thinking of had 85% of students on the NCCD list, a class that had come together from multiple primary feeders, each indicating that these students faced challenges in learning.

It also did not address the content issue.  By putting together teachers from multiple LAs, it did not address whether the student could access the curriculum or more specifically the modifications to the syllabus to allow them access to the curriculum.  When a student is 4-5 years below the year level achievement standard, modifications to pedagogy alone are insufficient to engage a student.  There it is, "the elephant in the room".  You cannot deliver a Year 7 syllabus to a student operating at a year 2 level.  They will be disruptive, bored and no amount of reward programs and pictorial representations will give them access to concepts that require years of scaffolding.

It does not address the workload issue.  Current estimations are that 25% of students or 100 students in the school need to be placed on the NCCD list.  Staff are querying how IEPs can be written, maintained and followed for all 100 students.  I too am worried that the current approach is not sustainable.

What's more, having 21 IEPs in a class all different without significant (eg. bodies to assist the teacher) assistance is not going to set up a positive learning environment and put significant stress on the educator in the room.  The picture that is created must identify which IEPs align and then create workable groups after classroom cohesion has been constructed through success, rapport and them having belief that learning is possible.  I'm not sure this was understood during the session.

So the challenge going forward is to measure the impact of the PD (I would love to be wrong and see engaged students as a result of the PD) and then if it fails, identify the positive parts and then try some of the things listed above that did work during a trial earlier in the year.  One of the nice things that happened recently was an acknowledgement that a role of the Wellness team was to identify classes or teachers that were not operating to capacity and allocate support to these teachers (rather than solely relying on ad hoc support from deputies, HOLAs and through performance management).  This has the potential to be an avenue to implement some of the more holistic approaches listed above outside of the current NCCD process and get further support to these students in need.