January 8, 2012

Happy New Year


School finished 2.5 weeks ago.  Term 4 is supposed to be easier as everything is finishing up, but it didn't stop me from running from the staffroom to cry in the bathroom or feel just generally exhausted from the daily dysfunctional politics of school administration.

It stopped being a healthy environment in which to work.   

In Victoria, every student who wants to study at University receives an Australian Tertiary Admission Ranking (ATAR) calculated out of 100 from school-assessed coursework and final exams.  As a guide, to study an undergraduate Arts degree at the University of Melbourne, one generally needs a minimum ATAR of 85, and to study Law or Medicine generally one's score must be over 95+.

My school's highest ATAR score was 71 (this is actually rather "high", considering in recent years, the top score was 63).

A school's effectiveness cannot be judged only on a top ATAR score.  But surely it is an indication of students being let down by the public education system. 

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I have another year as a Teach For Australia associate in my school.  What are my teaching goals for this year?

1. To collect consistent and usable data for all my classes so I can keep track of student progress, behaviour and attendance.  Having a concrete and simple way of measuring this will help with everyone's motivation and I can use the data to tailor learning goals for each student (this is a big ask, but I think it is necessary and do-able, especially for year 11 and 12 where I have smaller classes).    

2. To plan backwards more effectively through writing big picture unit plans, weekly plans, and lesson plans (no matter how "sparse") so I have a clearer idea of exactly why and how I will teach students the content and skills they need to learn.  There were too many lessons this year which I planned ad-hoc.  

There's a heap of other skills I need to be a better teacher, but for now I'll work on these two. 

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This past year as a teacher has given me a stronger voice and the confidence and capacity to face difficult situations.  I've learnt about my limits and to put myself first.  I'm less self-critical and brave enough to seek support from others when I'm vulnerable.  

It's been the toughest year of my life.

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