Sunday, 6 July 2014

Teacher-only day reflections

Teacher-only day: Friday the 4th of July, 2014

Managing social media
Tatiako: where to from here?
Registered teacher criteria
Special interest groups: cross-curricular learning, authentic learning contexts, BYOD, literacy diagnostic assessment
Department meeting: to stream or not to stream?
Deans with form-teachers

Registered teacher criteria

Having only recently renewed my registration I feel fairly confident about the registered teacher criteria. However, my colleague did introduce us to this infographic which explores our the RTCs connect to teaching as inquiry. This will be very useful for refining my portfolio for future submissions.
A visual guide to the registered teacher criteria as 'teaching as inquiry'

Cross-curricular learning

This 20 minute session was what excited me the most during the day. Three staff members (an art and design teacher, graphics teacher and hard technology teacher) spoke to us about their plans to create a generic plan for teaching students in a cross curricular method. This is something I am really interested in as I do believe the future of education is 'subjectless' - just as real life is. The teachers leading this session spoke about their desire to support students across many curriculum areas, then opened the floor to our thoughts and concerns. Some of the interesting points raised were:

  • does this kind of teaching require a modern learning environment, or just a different approach?
  • who would be ultimately responsible for managing an individual student's progress: the student? Their form-teacher?
  • how might a platform like Edmodo, Hapara or Schoology play a part in this process?
The reason I came away buzzing was the overwhelming enthusiasm demonstrated by those who participated in the discussion. From what I can see, this is what most teachers want to happen. I think we are lucky that there is so much enthusiasm about the future of education.
The next step for me is to read more about cross-curricular learning. Just a quick scan of this blogpost highlights that flipped learning and BYOD connect closely with this style of learning as both flipping and BYOD lend themselves to mastery learning.

Department meeting: to stream or not to stream?

A big chunk of our department meeting was dedicated to a review of our current streaming practices. Our discussion focused on the junior school which is especially pertinent as we are re-designing our junior program in preparation for 2015.
In both 2012 and 2013 I taught a Year 9 Advanced class and I cannot deny this was an absolute pleasure. On the whole these students were engaged, enthusiastic and eager to please.
They were also easy to teach. 
During those two years I also taught low ability Year 10 classes. Compared to my Year 9s I thought they were hell. 
But I had it all wrong. There was no comparison. And I did the students and myself a disservice by seeing them that way.
This year I have my BYOD class at Year 9 which is not streamed. There are two students in this form-class who spend their English line in the Whare Akonga (learning centre) as they learning needs are very specific. Across the remaining students there is a broad range of ability. And although it is challenging, this is what feels right to me. I have students who need extension and students who need extra guidance, and the iPads enable me to do this more effectively.
Meanwhile, in my Year 10 class of around 15, the students who despise that they are in a class together. Sadly, they look around at each other and have strong opinions about why they are all there: they are 'cabbage'. While they are there because they performed poorly across all assessments in English last year, for some of these students this has no connection to their ability and every connection to their attendance or work habits or behaviour.
There are many arguments for mixed ability classes, but this is the one that I believe is the most important: although they may require more work from us in order to differentiate effectively, they remove the socioeconomic segregation that is so glaringly obvious to the students themselves.

 Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe me he maunga teitei
Pursue excellence – should you stumble, let it be to a lofty mountain


Jay Coffey said...

I understand how you feel about those Year 10s. Having taught many of them in Year 9 it was frustrating to see them label themselves from the beginning of the year. No matter what I did to try and convince them otherwise.
I feel that streaming may have a place in some schools but we are doing some of our students a great disservice by streaming them.
However, there are pros and cons to every situation...

Keep up the great blogging.

Polly Hamilton said...

Firstly, I'm so excited your comment has shown up!
I agree that perhaps there is a place for streaming in some schools, especially where the students are more homogeneous and it is less likely to result in many students being disadvantaged.
Thanks for your comment!

Joanne Long said...

I was a strong advocate of streaming off the "low ability" students before the "socioeconomic segregation" aspect was really brought to my attention.
When my kids called themselves "cabbages", I told them emphatically that they were not - and that I was a teacher, not a gardener! I pointed out that in their class, we could slow down enough to "get" things they hadn't "got" before. Also, I hoped that they would have a better chance see what it feels like to be one of the "smart kids" in the class for a change.
I still think those positives exist, but they don't weight up well against SEGREGATION.
Thanks for another interesting read, Polly!

Polly Hamilton said...

Yay for your comments, fourth time's a charm!
One of the big anti-streaming arguments is that teachers have been observed to have lower expectations of the students in their 'low ability' classes. I think you were always an exception to that observation.
And while students need to drop the word cabbage, I think there's potential in that gardener metaphor!