Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Get a panelbeater if you want the job done.

Why is it when your teeth are stuffed you head for a dentist, when your car needs repairs a mechanic and if the car needs further examination we may use a panel-beater or automotive electrician.
They go unquestioned. When Wayne the Westie says your transmissions stuffed, its stuffed. Wayne may not have passed school certificate in 1982, and he may have a mullet and bad breath and drive a really scratchy HQ holden, but he is unquestioned, he knows his weet-bix and we accept this.
Why then are teachers not taken and accepted. 
Parents can be fickle (we are dealing with loved ones) but many many parents listen, support and encourage. I'd probably say the ones that don't believe us, or argue, would equal the number who think Wayne is a rip off artist and try elsewhere (even though Wayne was right in the first place).
I think Parents are as accepting of our professionalism as any other profession.

I mean that we are more critical of one another, more picky, more pedantic.
My son had to write out a letter about the importance of Homework, he got his hwk wrong. The letter was an essay which he copied. It said that teachers worked hard, set high expectations for homework, and marked and fed back to students. My answer was "bullshit" this Doris had never marked homework, and had 30 of 33 boys re doing her homework cause they didn't follow her instructions. Seems her "high standards of hwk" didn't have very clear instructions.
I have dealt with three other teachers who are "hot" on their sons/daughters teachers and their schools.
Its a real shame, there are some amazing schools with innovative ideas, and some amazing leaders who are doing fantastic things. Why do we look to rubbish schools when a quiet whisper to the boss might be needed. Or a "trust us" card needs to be played. If it is good enough for the panelbeaters of this word to trust our schools then the teachers out there need to do the same.

I know we think we have inside information to things that happen in other schools, but the reality is that the whisper you get is only as good as the person telling you. Lets look at what we can control and what we can do and not worry about what we cant control.
Parents, Teachers, Panelbeaters relax we are doing our best and always striving to do better.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Essential skills have they got it right?

In another reflective practice meeting the unearthing of the obvious about the NZC was stated through another set of eyes. 5 team leaders, barb, mumbleboy and myself were talking 4 minute walkthroughs with Tony Burkin when discussion led to NZC. Tony shared a discussion he has had with colleagues about the "business" model of polarity thinking that has been applied to the Key Competencies. "What"! you say, thats what I said.
Polars are opposites and often polarity decisions are made - yes/no - black/white 
There is often a lot of ground in a decision between yes or no. If you were asked a simple question, "can we go to the all black test". The answer "no" is at the end of one polar and "yes" the other. But there can be a thousand other answers that fit between yes and no. Answers like "if we can get tickets" or "it depends on the weather".
Here was Tony's little gem - 
If we look at the key competencies managing self then its polar opposite is  relating to others.
If we look at Thinking its polar opposite is - doing - participating and contributing.
Does this mean that all other skills that we can think of are jammed somewhere between these opposites? Are we therefore covering the whole range?
If we plot this on a chart does this polarity thinking clarify things and make sence?

It's nothing new but just helps with clarity.
I suppose your question is: Where is languages symbols and texts it's a key competency?
True it is a Key Competency, and its a fancy way of describing Numeracy and Literacy. And Numeracy and Literacy needs to be taught explicitly where as the other 4 essential skills arent as clear cut.

So a simple model to ensure you are on the right path might be: Polars + Numeracy and Literacy = Winning