ONLINE MAGAZINE FOR AUSTRALIAN EDUCATORS
May 2016 | Volume 3 Issue 1
Welcome to the first issue of FACULTY for 2016, this year we celebrate the release of our third volume. For this volume we have gone with two issues being released and revamped the look of the magazine.
In store for the readers are some fascinating articles by upcoming and established educators. Our inspiring educator for this issue is the director of the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) Professor Sue Trinidad.
My foreword for this issue is brief and I hope you enjoy the articles we have on offer.
Yours in Education
BEd (Sec), Dip.Csl, Dip.Mgt, Cert.TAE
Carolina Gomez Isaza, Nathan Watts, anonymous , Gerard Stevenson , Professor Sue Trinidad , Sam & May Taylor, Laura Lee Leggett, Erin Canavan.
Nathan Watts - Director
Dr Patrick Delaney - Quality Coordinator
Orry Gravolin - Communications Coordinator
Kyle Farnham - Media Assistant
Tristan Williams - Marketing Coordinator
Ruth Alder - Editor
Emma Mathews - Editor
From THe Director
Young People : Media Violence and Social Violence
School Daze: a Preservice Teacher’s Diary of Differences, Doubt and Harboured Hopes for her Future
ASDAN: Education Done Right
The Needs of a First Year Teacher
Fairness in the Delivery of On-Campus and Off-Campus Learning
Great Teaching Tips
Intervention Planning Report
Trends in Education
By Carolina Gomez Isaza
One of the more distinguished changes for society in the 20th and 21st centuries has been the intrusion of mass media upon everyday life. For young people, television, movies, videos, video games, the Internet and mobile phones now play a central role in the development of their lives (Huesmann, 2007, p. 6). Buckingham (2003, p. 5) states that young people currently living in industrialised societies spend more time watching television than they do in school, or in fact, on any other activity apart from sleeping. “Add to this the time young people devote to films, magazines, computer games, and popular music - it is clear that the media constitute by far their more significant leisure-time pursuit” (Buckingham, 2003, p. 5). These changes, and further advancements in technology have sparked many debates around young people, and the issue of media violence and its perpetration of actual violence in society (Cantor, 2000, p. 30). The issue of media violence and its relationship to young people (and subsequently social violence) has many theoretical perspectives. Academic debates around this issue concentrate on young people as passive viewers of media violence, whereby their behaviours are influenced according to what they are exposed to (Browne & Hamilton-Giachritsis, 2005, p. 702). However, there is also much discussion on the extent to which media violence affects young people, to the point where other academic perspectives suggest that young people are active users of the media and are therefore “more autonomous and critical audiences than they are conventionally assumed to be” (Buckingham, 2003, p. 12). For Film, Television and New Media teachers, it is crucial to understand the media culture that surrounds students, and facilitate the critical thinking processes necessary for students to develop an understanding of, and participation in, this media culture (Buckingham, 2003, 13). The majority of research around media violence has been centred on the question of whether watching violence onscreen will lead individuals, in particular young people, to be aggressive in real life (Gauntlett, 2008, p. 32). According to Hogan (2005, p. 251), the need for such research is a result of modern mass media and its common representation of violent images, messages, and action. Much of the research related to media violence and young people is based on the apparent influence the media has over them, positioning young people as passive users of the media. This notion suggests that the media are bearers of a singular set of ideologies and beliefs, or as uniformly harmful (Buckingham, 2003, p. 12). Consequently, this positions young people as helpless against the influences of, and in need of protection from, the media. Research frequently concludes that when young people are exposed to media violence, they will in-turn imitate that violence in real life (Fuld et al., 2009, p. 1495). There is a strong consensus that exposure to violent messages in the media, including television, movies, music, and video games (to name a few), can have “harmful effects on youth, and therefore on society” (Strasburger & Wilson, 2002, p. 113). Aggression as a learned behaviour that can be acquired, reinforced, and primed by the media appears to be the most documented effect (Fuld et al., 2009, p. 1495; Strasburger & Wilson, 2002, p. 113; Brown & Hamilton-Giachritsis, 2005, p. 704). Furthermore, Kaminski (2013, p. 6) suggests that young people may identify with certain characters, victims or victimisers, and therefore may imitate the violence that they see. Studies have also found that young people may gradually accept violence as a way to solve problems and become immune (Kaminski, 2013, p. 13). As Strasburger and Wilson (2002, p. 113) have pointed out, becoming desensitised to media violence due to extensive exposure may result in young people being more callous toward real-world violence. These studies found that media violence plays a significant role in generating violence in society (Strasburger & Wilson, 2002, p. 113; Fuld et al., 2005, p. 1496; Kaminski, 2013, p. 18). Despite this conventional notion, Brown and Hamilton-Giachritsis (2005, p. 702) explain that there is still much debate about the relationship and effects of media violence on young people. Although studies concerning the issue of media violence and its influence over young people appear compelling, many researchers also agree that positioning children as passive users and at the mercy of media can be flawed (Gauntlett, 2008, p. 32). Gauntlett (2008, p. 32) finds that the predominant problem with these studies is that “isolating one particular thing, such as television viewing, or magazine reading, as the cause of a person’s behaviour, is basically impossible.” The influences that play a part in decision-making are complex – they include previous experiences, opinions and values. Therefore, Gauntlett (2008, p. 33) suggests that the idea of media content simply ‘making’ someone do something appears flawed. Other studies point out that the assumptions about media violence stem from “anxieties about a changing world and an unknown future, and serves to justify control of (usually other people’s) children” (Sternheimer, 2003, p. 62). This highlights the underlying issue with studying the ‘effects’ of the media. That is, young people are exclusively seen as potential ‘victims’ of the mass media, and are therefore denied the opportunity to express their critical abilities, or free will (Gauntlett, 2008, p. 33). Young people, whom Buckingham (1997, p. 31) states that in these studies are characteristically defined as ‘other’ (and have historically been seen as most at risk from the media), are portrayed as vulnerable, ignorant and irrational – aspects regarded as part of the inherent condition of ‘childhood’. Therefore, suggesting that, “imitative violence, which has remained the central focus of concern in such debates, arises from the inability to distinguish between fiction and reality” (Buckingham, 1997, p. 31). However, some research methods have shown that young people can intelligently and cynically discuss mass media, when there is willingness to listen (Gauntlett, 2008, p. 33). Nonetheless, young people’s ‘sophistication’ as viewers has limits (Buckingham, 1997, p. 31), and this, plus issues around passive viewing of media by young people, has implications for pedagogical practice. Young people can have agency when it comes to the media; however, this can largely depend on the critical perspectives that are made available to them from other sources, such as Film, Television and New Media teachers. As research suggests, high levels of exposure to media violence, or media in general, can mean that the media have the opportunity to shape young people’s attitudes and actions, and can be a primary source of information about the world and how one behaves in it (Fuld et al., 2009, p. 1496). Repercussions for Film, Television and New Media teachers are therefore related to their role as educators and role models in society. Media are now “embedded in the textures and routines of everyday life, and provide many of the ‘symbolic resources’ one can use to conduct and interpret relationships and define one’s identity” (Buckingham, 2003, p. 5). Consequently, it seems increasingly important for classroom pedagogy to present material that is relevant to young people’s lives outside of school and the wider society, as this would allow for issues such as media violence to be better addressed and critiqued, rather than simply restricting young people’s access to this media, which they will undoubtedly access nonetheless (Buckingham, 2003, pp. 32-34). Furthermore, given that research suggests that young people are more self-governing and critical than is commonly presumed, then approaches to media education “should aim to develop their understanding of, and participation in, the media culture that surrounds them” (Buckingham, 2003, p. 13). Perhaps by engaging in these practices of media literacy, young people can be repositioned from passive to active, from recipient to participant, and from consumer to citizen (Livingstone, 2004, p. 20). Theoretical perspectives around media violence and its relationship to young people largely focus on the idea that young people are passive users of this media. These theories suggest that when young people are exposed to violence images or messages, they will imitate aggressive behaviour in reality (Strasburger & Wilson, 2002, p. 113). However, recent studies suggest that young people are more critical of the media than what was initially thought (Buckingham, 2003, p. 13). These studies and perspectives are crucial for Film, Television and Media teachers to understand. In a world where the media is becoming more intrusive and technology continues to advance its pervasiveness, Film, Television and New Media teachers need to be aware of the culture that surrounds students and provide young people with learning experiences that will engage critical thinking to actively control the formation of their identity (Buckingham, 1997, p. 33).
Browne, K., & Hamilton-Giachritsis, C. (2005). The influence of violent media on children and adolescents: a public-health approach. The Lancet, 365(9460), 702-710.
Buckingham, D. (1997). Electronic child abuse? Rethinking the media’s effects on children. In M. Barker & J. Petley, Ill Effects: The media violence debate (1st ed.). London: Routledge.
Buckingham, D. (2003). Media education (1st ed.). Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
Cantor, J. (2000). Media Violence. Journal Of Adolescent Health, 27(2), 30-34.
Fuld, G., Mulligan, D., Altmann, T., Brown, A., Christakis, D., & Clarke-Pearson, K. et al. (2009). Media Violence. PEDIATRICS, 124(5). doi:10.1542/peds.2009-2146
Gauntlett, D. (2008). Media, Gender and Identity: an introduction (2nd ed.). Oxon: Routledge.
Hogan, M. (2005). Adolescents and media violence: six crucial issues for practitioners. Adolesc Med Clin, 16(2), 249-268.
Huesmann, L. (2007). The impact of electronic media violence: Scientific theory and research. Journal Of Adolescent Health, 41(6), 6-13.
Livingstone, S. (2004). What is media literacy?. Intermedia, 32(3), 18-20.
Sternheimer, K. (2003). It's not the media: The truth about pop culture's influence on children (1st ed.). Cambridge: Westview Press.
Strasburger, V., & Wilson, B. (2002). Children, adolescents, and the media (1st ed.). Thousand Oaks Calif.: Sage Publications.
Young people: media violence and social violence
A critique of 'The Equal Right to Inequality' and the justification of ethical positioning in the equitable delivery of learning to both on-campus and off-campus learning cohorts
Critique of Lucks Assessment
Fairness in the delivery of on-campus and off-campus learning
By Nathan Watts
The Equal Right to Inequality. An analysis by Morgan Luck (2009) of the inequalities and ethical dilemmas in study modality has created discussion on the violation of the principles of equality in the context of distance education. When on-campus students have access to distance resources in addition to their own, distance education students face an inherent disadvantage in terms of the availability of resources. This paper holds the position that students should not be disadvantaged by their chosen study mode. Through critical analysis of Luck’s (2009) article and, reflection of the ethical context of equity and equality, this paper will determine the concept of fairness in different study modes. Accordingly, this leads to an agreement in principle of Luck’s (2009) article, though conversely disagreement in practice.
There is contention that any mode of study, whether on- or off-campus, ‘flex-learning’ or workplace education, has intrinsic weaknesses that can potentially disadvantage the students enrolled in the subject. Luck (2009) argues that the principle of equality is violated when on-campus students are supplied with the learning resources provided to distance education students, in addition to their access to traditional on-campus resources such as face-to-face interactions. In addition, there exists an inequity in the balance of resources presented to both cohorts. Luck’s (2009) analysis of this ethical conundrum, in the context of disadvantage in modes of subject delivery, can be supported by the research conducted by Finger and Penney (2001), on their review of modes of delivery at the School of Education and Professional Studies Gold Coast Campus Griffith University. The evidence from their review suggests that students who study online, or via distance education, lack the opportunity to interact face-to-face with their peers and, therefore, are provided with additional resources to augment the learning, supplementing the resources on-campus students receive. After examining Luck’s (2009) argument and the case study of Finger and Penney, it can be clearly seen that the provision of additional resources to those who study via distance is an act of equity, to provide equal opportunity to achieve at the same level as their on-campus peers
notions of utility
Utility is a concept examined by Luck (2009, citing; Parfit, 1997 p.205) which is central to his argument that although inequality is perceived as bad, utility suggests that it is more valuable in society if people are made to be better off. To illustrate, it can be suggested that if people are equally disadvantaged they are better off as an overall student cohort, leading to the concept of equity capacity being introduced. Luck (2009, p.445) defines this principle by stating “it in itself is bad if people are worse off than others, unless they are worse off as a result of being better off as possible”. Considering this argument, if the students in a subject are viewed as an overall cohort, regardless of study mode, it is better that those who are disadvantaged receive equity to ensure they are better off like the rest of the cohort; this is considered as utility trumping the principle of equality.
equity practices of physical quantity
Students who study via distance are given the equal opportunity to receive the same academic outcome as on-campus students through the increased provision of ‘physical’ resources, such as study guides. In the two case studies, from Edith Cowen University and Charles Sturt University (as cited by Luck, Jevons & Northcott, 1994, p.54-76), there suggests an incongruity between practitioners’ ethical and practical stances on the matter, with many lecturers believing the provision of distance resources to on-campus students is inequitable, although should be encouraged. For that reason, Luck (2009) discusses equity and equality in the terms of equity being fair treatment and equality being similar treatment, following the notion of ceteris paribus; “I act unfairly because I have not treated the students similarly” (p. 444). In the same way, equitable access to education is achieved through steps taken to provide students with equal opportunity (Schement, 2001). In this context, Ramsden (1999) discusses how the quantity of resources acts as an equity mechanism. Students who study on-campus are able to receive learning instruction in the form of tutorials and lectures, which are accompanied by the reading materials such as text books. However, distance students have to rely on the interpretation of purely textual information to study. Based on the findings in Ramsdens’ (1999) study, it can be argued that the increase of ‘physical’ resources available to distance students weighs up as equal in comparison to the learning experiences available to on-campus students. Concurrent research stemming off Ramsden’s (1991) work suggests that the quantity of resources as an equitable practice can be held as agents of change in educational outcomes (Lane & McAndrew, 2010), engagement in learning (Cramp, 2011; Dunne, Zandstra, Brown & Nurser, 2011 p. 113-124) and developing heightened productivity in learners (Taylor & Wilding, 2009). Each of these theoretical positions make an important contribution to the viewpoint that the provision of differing quantities of resources to students, dependent on their enrolled delivery mode, aids to balance out inequality that is attached to the disadvantages of their study modality.
ethical positioning of fairness
Having considered the theoretical perspectives, it is also reasonable to look at the practice of providing equal opportunity to students of different delivery modes, by way of ethical positioning. Equity, by its definition, is the steps taken to improve the situation of those who are in one way or another disadvantaged (Schement, 2001). Thereby ensuring everyone is of the same level of advantage, or in the case of Luck’s (2009) article, disadvantage ensures there is a balance of equality and inequality in the student’s access to resources. Much like the concept of inclusive education, the treatment of groups based on their mode of subject delivery does not mean they are treated unfairly. Based on the findings of Konza (2008) and the works of Taite (2013) it can be argued that unfairness is the basis of inequality and when equity practices are not applied to disadvantaged students, despite the notions of utility, it is unethical and unjustified in any case. In the same way schools provide students with learning and development needs, access to equity occurs through inclusive education. Whilst they are being treated differently, presenting them with the equal opportunity to achieve is therefore treating them fairly.
Differentiation of Delivery Modality
The capacity of an educator to deliver fairness can be limited by educational policy within an institution, which can often contradict their personal ethical position. In the context of resource development and delivery at the Careers Australia Group, a private RTO, resources can be fairly disseminated to the different delivery modalities by ensuring ethical practices are adhered to. The pedagogical approach used by Careers Australia is to develop one set of resources developed for all delivery modes, and the provision of equity falls upon the instructional designers and trainers to ensure that the delivery of these materials meets the needs of the students and is delivered with differentiation in student capacities and study mode in mind. Students have inherently different abilities when it comes to learning (Flemming & Mills, 1992). Depending on the mode of delivery, students capacities can be defined through their dominant learning modality. A student who does well in an online environment may not do well in a face-to-face learning environment, which may be due to the learning mode of the student. Therefore, it can be argued that a student who excels in this environment would benefit from being deprived of an auditory instruction that on-campus students would receive (Bates & Bates, 2005; Hawthorne, Prout, Kinnersley, & Houston, 2009). With regards to students who have to take study via distance or online due to personal, geographic, social and cultural circumstance, they could be disadvantaged entirely on the fact that they are primarily auditory learners. Given the advancements of technology, this has now improved the access to equal education outcomes and further enhanced the ability for fairness in the equitable delivery of learning to both on-campus and off-campus learning cohorts, by acting as a leveler. The implementation of SCORMS and eBooks through the e-learning platform Blackboard has proven to be a highly successful and equitable approach with Careers Australia (Careers Australia Group, 2014). This practice has solved the ethical dilemma associated with the provision of distance resources to on-campus students, by providing the same resources but adapting the context of their provision.
It can be seen from the above analysis that equal opportunity is, in principle, an outcome of equity practices. Though conversely, equality is achieved through the acts ensuring everyone is treated on equal grounds, by the provision of an equal number of resources delivered in contextualized methods. Considering Luck’s (2009) argument that there is no obligation to provide on-campus students with distance education resources, it can be concluded that the argument is logical and reasoned. When provided with the case study of the Careers Australia Group posed in the section covering ethical positioning, it supports the incongruent suggestion of academics, deans and lectures that distance resources should be encouraged for use by on-campus students (Jevons & Northcott, 1994, p.54-76 as cited by Luck, 2009). The key aspect of this support lies in the contextualisation of the resource to the delivery modality. It has been shown that Morgan Luck (2009) concisely addressed the issues of the inequalities and ethical dilemmas of study mode in principle of their theoretical application, yet failed to address the application of fairness in the delivery of on-campus and off-campus learning in practice. In contrast, this paper has been able to assess that fairness can be provided to all delivery cohorts through equitable practices of equal resource quantities, and, delivery-specific contextualisation, thus providing equal opportunity to all students. Such a sentiment is mirrored by Luck (2009) when he suggests the principle of utility takes precedence over equality for people to be better off.
Bates, T., & Bates, T. (2005). Technology, e-learning and distance education. London: Routledge.
Careers Australia Group,. (2014). Outcomes of Course Delivery Modes. Brisbane: Careers Australia Group.
Cramp, A. (2011). Developing first-year engagement with written feedback. Active Learning In Higher Education, 12(2), 113-124. doi:10.1177/1469787411402484
Dunne, E., Zandstra, R., Brown, T., & Nurser, T. (2011).Students as agents of change: New ways of engaging with learning and teaching in Higher Education. Bristol: ESCalate: University of Bristol. Retrieved from http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/14767/
Finger, G., & Penney, A. (2001). Investigating modes of subject delivery in Teacher Education: A review of modes of delivery. In Australian Association for Research in Education (pp. 5-12). Gold Coast: Griffith University. Retrieved from http://www98.griffith.edu.au/
Fleming, N., & Mills, C. (2015). Not Another Inventory, Rather a Catalyst for Reflection. To Improve The Academy, 11, 137-155.
Hawthorne, K., Prout, H., Kinnersley, P., & Houston, H. (2009). Evaluation of different delivery modes of an interactive e-learning programme for teaching cultural diversity. Patient Education And Counseling, 74(1), 5-11. doi:10.1016/j.pec.2008.07.056
Konza, D. (2008). Inclusion of Students with Disabilities in New Times: Responding to the Challenge. In P. Kell, W. Vialle, D. Knoza & G. Vogl, Learning and the learner: exploring learning for new times (1st ed., pp. 39-64). Wollongong: University of Wollongong.
Lane, A., & McAndrew, P. (2010). Are open educational resources systematic or systemic change agents for teaching practice?. British Journal Of Educational Technology, 41(6), 952-962. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2010.01119.x
Luck, M. (2009). The equal right to inequality: equality and utility in on- and off-campus subject delivery. Distance Education, 30(3), 443-446. doi:10.1080/01587910903236569
Marginson, S. (2011). Equity, status and freedom: a note on higher education. Cambridge Journal Of Education, 41(1), 23-36. doi:10.1080/0305764x.2010.549456
Schement, j. (2001). Imagining Fairness: Equality and Equity of Access in Search of Democracy. In N. Kranich, Libraries and Democracy (1st ed., pp. 15-27). Chicago, IL: American Library Association.
Taite, G. (2013). Ethics and Law. In G. Taite, Making Sense of Mass Education (1st ed., pp. 227-253). Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.
Taylor, P., & Wilding, D. (2009). Rethinking the values of higher education-the student as collaborator and producer? Undergraduate research as a case study.. Warwick: University of Warwick: The Reinvention Centre for Undergraduate Research.
Pupils’ problem behaviours can be effortlessly resolved with appropriate behavioural interventions (Beamish, 2013). The interventional planning report will focus on the assignment of Behavioural Interventional Planning [BIP], which derived baseline data and gathered information from the previous assessment on Functional Behavioural Analysis. Pseudonyms are used to protect the involved parties for the BIP. This report supplies a BIP on Amy, a profoundly Deaf signing female Grade Five pupil. Acronyms utilised are: Head of Special Education Services [HOSES]; Educational Interpreters [EIs]. Mrs Rose is Amy’s mainstream non-signing teacher. EI One is Amy’s regular interpreter for most English lessons on Tuesdays-Fridays while EI Three undertakes EI One’s English classes on Mondays regularly. Amy’s main targeted behaviour is not looking at her teacher, interpreter and board instructions. The desired replacement behaviour for Amy is to consistently look at teacher, interpreter and board instructions. The purpose of the BIP report with the provision of appendices is to help Amy’s teacher, her EIs and HOSES to support her behavioural change from the targeted behaviour into replacement behaviour with instructional strategies of some rewards and adult praise provided. The implementation of the BIP report requires collaboration and cooperation with Amy’s teaching support team (Umbreit, Ferro, Liaupsin, & Lane, 2007). BIP is highly recommended and favourable among Special Educators as it is effective for behavioural interventions in schools (Umbreit et al., 2007).
Goal statement (key and initial short term goal)
The goal statement with key and initial short term goals will be outlined for Amy. The definition of Amy’s targeted behaviour was not looking at the teacher, interpreter and board instructions consistently. The definition of Amy’s replacement behaviour is looking at the teacher, interpreter and board instructions constantly. The goal statement for Amy is to reduce the frequency on her targeted behaviour and change it into replacement behaviour. This will be supported by a key goal and an initial short term goal. First, the key goal is that Amy will be looking at teacher, interpreter and board instructions in all English sessions as the problem behaviour occurred regularly. Last, the initial short term goal is that Amy will frequently show the replacement behaviour in each English lesson to fix the issue quickly.
Rationale for goal including links to baseline data
The rationale for the goal including links to baseline data in the FBA assignment will be provided. The hypotheses statement was that the main function of Amy’s problem behaviour was to escape from activity and obtain attention from Mrs Rose and EIs especially in English sessions. It had a hypothesis testing and it was proofed correct. Observations of the frequent problem behaviour were made during four English sessions for the FBA. Doctor Wendi Beamish advised me to use the Problem Behaviour Questionnaire [PBQ] tool instead of the Motivation Assessment Scale [MAS] tool for hypothesis testing (Beamish, 2013). Therefore, I will put PBQ sheets that two key school staff completed in the appendices (Beamish, 2013; Appendices F-G). Amy has a profoundly hearing loss of more than ninety decibels (California Ear Institute [CEI], 2013). Thus, she is classified as a profoundly Deaf because she uses a signing communicative mode for her communicational needs (Hyde, Carpenter & Conway, 2010). She also has a Waardenburg Syndrome which affected her hearing, eyesight and skin pigment exposing her to sunburn easily (Schwartz, 2013; See Hearing loss – Syndrome and condition list for congenital and progressive hearing loss, 2007). She uses facial expressions, body languages, gestures and Deaf signs in Auslan in her everyday conversations with people (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders [NIDOCD], 2010). Typically, Deaf signing and hearing-impaired oral pupils are left behind in their English and Numeracy levels compared to their hearing peers due to the hearing loss with misunderstanding especially inability to hear, understand and decode spoken sounds in English (Salvia, Ysseldyke, & Bolt, 2007, 2010). The rationale of Amy’s distractive and disengaging behaviour hindered her from looking at teacher, interpreter and board instructions which produced disappointment and annoyance to few EIs and Mrs Rose (O’Neill, Horner, Albin, Sprague, Storey, & Storey, 1997). It reported that English was unpleasant to acquire knowledge and literacy skills for her (Steege & Pratt, 2013; Steege & Watson, 2009). During four 1.5 hour English sessions, FBA was conducted (Chandler & Dahlquist, 2010; Croner & Horner, 2003; Filter & Alvarez, 2012). The functions of the targeted behaviour were escape, withdraw and gain attention from adults (Umbreit, Ferro, Liaupsin, & Lane, 2007).
The data collection sheet for Amy’s goal will be included on this. Refer to Table 1, it is has a goal for a short term only to monitor for any behavioural improvements of Amy’s during five English sessions. The teacher and EI could put crosses and ticks on the data sheet when Amy achieved the desired outcomes in all five English lessons to test if it is good for Amy’s behavioural state. Mrs Rose and EI will be encouraged to write brief notes in the Overall Comments then have a discussion with the HOSES on Amy’s progress. Stickers are Amy’s favourite rewards so it will be worthwhile to use. Star stickers are colourful, beautiful and attractive so Amy will like them as her rewards. The instructions with three steps are linked with the data sheet for checking the points that Amy has improved with her replacement behaviour. Mrs Rose or EI would need to monitor this as the data sheet needs to be completed in each session at same time during teaching. The purpose of the data sheet would be to check the effectiveness of the upcoming designed BIP for Amy. Table 1’s data sheet for BIP will be used to check if it is effective for future utilisation.
Table 1. Data Sheet of goals for Amy
Behaviour Intervention Plan (minimum of 10 elements)
POSITIVE BEHAVIOURAL SUPPORT PLAN [contained 16 elements]
Short Term Goal: During English lessons, Amy will look at her teacher, Educational Interpreters [EI(s)] and written board instructions to ensure that she is able to follow up and complete her classroom tasks or activity worksheets. The aim is for this to be achieved with minimal distractions, withdrawals, refusals or arguments with authority figures.
Program: Improve concentration levels and eye contact
Involved staff: Mrs Rose (Mainstream teacher) and Educational Interpreters
Goal: Amy will look at her teacher, educational interpreters and written board instructions to ensure that she is able to follow up and complete her classroom tasks or activity worksheets in English lessons without distractions, withdrawals, refusals or arguments with authority figures. Outcome: Amy will change from her targeted behaviour into a replacement behaviour which will greatly benefit herself, her teacher and interpreter in the long term. This would be evident by her behaviour of looking at her teacher and interpreter including board instructions most of the times during all English lessons. Instructions:
1) Put a cross (X symbol) on the first to sixth columns.
2) Write brief notes on the Overall Comments column.
3) Put a tick (√ symbol) on the Sticker Given column.
1. Exhibition of temper tantrums (for example -slamming on the student table).
2. Withdrawals from class activities or worksheets.
3. Amy’s seating arrangements are:
a) Sitting at her table in front of an EI.
b) Amy sits with all Deaf signing students in the front row. c) The lesson is introduced to her in Auslan, interpreted by her EI and Mrs Rose, mainstream teacher points to topic headings and written board instructions to start the English learning. Interpersonal factors:
1. Arguments with EIs and teacher.
2. Refusals to follow board instructions.
Replacement Behaviour Program:
Encourage Amy to reduce her difficulty of not looking at teacher, interpreter and board instructions.
Educate Amy of importance of looking at teacher, interpreter and board instructions consistently to achieve better results on her academic performance. This will assist her to become greatly contented and positively enjoy her schooling.
Provide a brief, short reward system with positive reinforcements of star stickers with a reward system of free times of favourite activities to encourage Amy to be motivated to change her problem behaviour into replacement behaviour.
Prompting Amy is essential and reminding her of the consequences of not receiving star stickers and linking this targeted behaviour to the access to preferred activities for free time.
Deaf Role Models Program:
Use Deaf signing adults to model the importance of looking at teachers, EIs and board instructions for better study results. They would emphasise that Amy can ask for help freely if she misunderstand any English activities. Friendship Program:
Ask Amy’s Deaf and hearing-impaired peers to remind her to look at teacher, interpreter and board instructions when they find out that Amy is off task in the class. Amy’s Deaf and hearing-impaired classmates would praise and cheer her up when she displays a behavioural improvement.
Ask Amy’s Deaf and hearing-impaired peers to remind her to look at teacher, interpreter and board instructions when they find out that Amy is off task in the class. Amy’s Deaf and hearing-impaired classmates would praise and cheer her up when she displays a behavioural improvement.
Interrupting the behaviour chain:
1. When Amy commences to show negative facial expressions with unpleasant Auslan signs such as, “I don’t want to do this work”; uses aggressive body language with arms crossed; refusals to obey signed instructions; argue with her EI or teacher deliberately. This is demonstrated that Amy is becoming agitated before she acts out the problem behaviour. Hence, Amy would get a reminder that she needs to be showing good replacement behaviour, in order to earn rewards for her progress in the English lesson. Counter-intuitive strategies:
1. Mrs Rose would use a PowerPoint presentation with typed board instructions in a dot form with some attractive pictures or visual signposts. This may enhance Amy’s concentration levels and inspire her to listen to the given directions. 2. When Amy pushes the work away, then Mrs Rose or EI would need to redirect her in a positive way by encouraging her to concentrate. Moreover, she will stay on the track of completing the work and receive her reward as a positive reinforcement to preferred activities. 3. Emphasise that the problem behaviour can be negative and unwelcoming in high school including adult working life whereas all employees must look at their employers and follow orders. Emergency procedures:
1. Get the Head of Special Education Services [HOSES] to intervene when Amy starts to have a fierce argument with her mainstream teacher or interpreter. In addition, if Amy suddenly demonstrates temper tantrums or withdraws away from class activities or task chores as well as slamming on her desk. This is because the HOSES know Amy’s social background and her family’s personal history of dealing with her problem behaviours. 2. The HOSES would need to send an urgent mobile text message to Amy’s Deaf parents to inform the risk of Amy’s problem behaviour towards the teacher or her interpreter. So Amy’s parents would be aware. The HOSES and teacher may need to organise a quick meeting with Amy’s parents and discuss about protection approaches to solve Amy’s continual problem behaviour in the English classes. Programmatic factors:
1. Promote the skill for clarifying difficult tasks or complex instructions on the worksheets and requesting adult assistance. 2. Upraising her hand confidently to acquire the teacher or interpreter’s attention for lesson support.
Rationale for each element in plan, with links to relevant literature (prevent, teach, respond)
Rationale for each element in the plan on three columns of prevent, teach and respond will be provided with links to relevant literature sources. The BIP table has 16 elements. Educators are required by school policies to prepare BIPs to support students’ interventions (AITSL, 2011; QCT, 2006).
Educational strategies, seating organisations, level of customised support and environmental conditions are important because they can impact Amy’s learning (Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center [ECLKC], 2002). Mrs Rose and EIs must train Amy to enhance her social, emotional and behavioural competences of coping in a regular classroom (Knoff, 2012). Amy could be able to self-prompt herself about displaying the positive behaviour for the short-term goal (Knoff, 2012, p. 16; Croner & Horner, 2003).
2. Teach: Replacement
Amy will be educated to be accountable for her problem behaviour and missing out important information or directives for English sessions due to her non-cooperation for class participation (Knoff, 2012). Amy needs to alter her way of not looking at her teacher, EI and board instructions then create an effort to be attentive at all of the time (Cope, 2007; Knoff, 2012, p. 20). Consistency must be applied for the BIP because motivation, responsibility and teaching strategies need staff’s commitment for the short-term course (Knoff, 2012). Amy usually requires a higher level of personal assistance for her classroom tasks or lesson worksheets. However, the assistance can be supplied by Mrs Rose and her EIs but it can be varied depending on the class dynamics or day (ECLKC, 2002; Knoff, 2012). Amy likes stickers, adult praising and attention as her rewards in the class (Bear, 2010). Knoff (2012, p. 19) stated, “Incentives.... must be meaningful to the students, and they need to be strong enough to motivate students...” which expressed that pupils will see rewards worthwhile for replacement behaviours with positives (Steege & Watson, 2009; Filter & Alvarez, 2012). Prompting and reminding Amy are essential to ensure that the program with better results is successful for the short term period (Steege & Pratt, 2013).
Deaf Role Models Program:
Amy’s potential for learning English should be supported from the school (Bruhwiler & Blatchford, 2011). Deaf signing adults would educate and impact knowledge and skills about life experience and working world to Amy (Umbreit et al., 2007). This will encourage Amy to take incentives and responsibility to model a civil behaviour (Knoff, 2012).
Amy’s classmates can teach peer abilities with social, emotional and behavioural skills to manage the difficult English lessons (Knoff, 2012; O’Neill et al., 1997). Mrs Rose and EIs can be involved but they need to teach that they need self-control aptitudes to calm down in difficult situations (Knoff, 2012). Amy will be motivated with a powerful, rapid and huge consequence to modify her misconduct (Knoff, 2012).
The teachers and students’ educational experiences will be influenced by a great effect from a support plan for positive behavioural intervention (Knoster, Kincaid, Brinkley, Malatchi, McFarland, Shannon, Hazelgrove, & Schall, 2000; Chandler & Dahlquist, 2010). Competing Behaviours Model [CBM] discussed about how problem behaviours can be handled with a whole approach of behavioural management with prompting, correcting and facilitating the situations (Beamish, 2013). Teachers can use CBM to examine Amy’s main reason for the occurrence (See Appendix H). Usage of encouragement, praise and rewards require careful decision-making for effective management of Amy’s targeted behaviour (Fields, Perry & Fields, 2010). With right amounts of them, Amy will become a nice learner and respect authority figures (Brophy 1981; Hartley-Brewer, 2006; Young, 2007; Hyde et al., 2010).
Details on how the intervention plan could be introduced to staff
The intervention plan with 3 columns of prevent, teach and respond could be introduced to staff. Significantly, the PTR plan should be a child-centred focus because it will outlines groundwork and guides to assessable results with diminutions of the targeted problem behaviour in Amy’s case (Kincaid et al., 2000). As a result, it will powerfully boost her respect levels for Mrs Rose, EIs and easily follow the board instructions (Kincaid et al., 2000). Additionally, it also will enhance her satisfaction with academic performance and social skills of interacting, requesting adult support and obtaining worthwhile rewards for the replacement behaviour (Kincaid et al., 2000). Dr Beamish advised me to use three programs to cover Amy’s behavioural issues because the targeted problem behaviour is not so severe. HOSES can consult with Mrs Rose, EIs and ALMs to choose the best teaching program and back-up procedures for dealing with Amy’s behavioural issues (ECLKC, 2002) as supported by AITSL’s Standards 1.1 to 1.3, 1.6 and QCT’s Standards One to Five (AITSL, 2011; QCT, 2006).
Support Program 1
Replacement Behaviour from Teaching Programs was chosen for Support Program 1 because it is highly relevant to Amy’s situation (See Table 2). The Support Program 1 consists of a short-term goal, instructional strategies, a specific data sheet and two sheets of the reward chart system (See Appendices I-J). The reward system of stickers will be used, as stickers are Amy’s favoured reinforcements, and as such will be used to reinforce good behaviours. Star stickers will be used to remind Amy to pay attention to her teacher, her interpreter and written board instructions. When Amy pays attention to Mrs Rose either EI or board instructions, a star sticker will be placed on her reward chart. When Amy gets ten stars, she will get ‘ticket one’ - ten minutes of free time on reading a favourite book (See Appendix K). After 20 stars, she will get ‘ticket two’ - ten minutes of free time on playing a favourite board game or toys (See Appendix K). For 30 stars, she will get ‘ticket three’ - ten minutes of playing games on the computer or Ipad (See Appendix K). For 40 stars, she will get ‘ticket four’ - a compliment letter from the HOSES (See Appendix K). The purpose of this letter is to encourage her to keep her good behaviour consistently. Finally, for 50 stars, she will get ‘ticket five’ - she will receive a certificate of achievement in the assembly hall from the school principal.
Amy will be proud of herself for the behavioural improvement. The award will have three signatures from principal, HOSES and Mrs Rose. These important authority figures will make Amy feel greatly appreciated and encouraged. The certificate will be given at the school assembly hall on a Wednesday in front of the whole audience and Amy’s peers. These rewards will have a substantial value of payoff so Amy will be motivated to change. FBA casework has collected Amy’s likes and dislikes so star stickers and tickets will be highly relevant to her (Umbreit et al., 2007). The reward schedule aims to give Amy intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and encouragement. This was developed based on FBA’s baseline data and interviews with Amy’s mother and involved school staff. The problem behaviour’s frequency was excessive in four English sessions. A few EIs informed me that it was prevalent in English due to its complexity. The frequency of giving rewards out will be high and once in each English 1.5 session and the sustainability of the program will finish in a term only because Mrs Rose, HOSES, TOD, ALMs and EIs desire to see Amy to achieve her Literacy and Numeracy goals as a better learner not with low standards of education.
Details on how Support Program 1 could be introduced to staff
The Support Program 1 could be introduced to staff by showing an example of how the replacement program works with a short reward system for Amy which is supported by authors for effective professional consultation with collaboration (Bear, 2010; Beamish, 2010; Filter & Alvarez, 2012; Hyde et al., 2010; See Table 2). Amy’s parents would be informed of this program so they can help Amy for the better future as supported by AITSL’s Standard 3.7 (AITSL, 2011). This Replacement Behaviour Program can make a difference to Amy’s education (Knoster, Kincaid, Brinkley, Malatchi, McFarland, Shannon, Hazelgove & Schall, 2000; See Table 2). Refer to Table 2, Mrs Rose needs to establish a challenging goal of English learning for Amy then use teaching strategies and effective classroom communication with EI’s assistance as supported by AITSL’s Standards 3.1 to 3.5 (AITSL, 2011; Chandler & Dahlquist, 2010 ). Therefore, Mrs Rose and EI will manage Amy’s challenging behaviour with supportive strategies and classroom activities (Cope, 2007; Larrivee, 2009). Furthermore, they will maintain whole class’ safety and support Amy’s participation as supported by AITSL’s Standards 4.1 to 4.4 (AITSL, 2011; Croner & Horner, 2003). When Amy shows confidence of changing her problem behaviour to the replacement behaviour, she will get rewards based on levels of star stickers for her favourite preferences of leisure activities (O’Neill et al., 1997; Umbreit et al., 2007; Steege & Watson, 2009). When she has finally showed a consistent change, she will get a certificate of achievement (Hartley-Brewer, 2006; Steege & Pratt, 2011; Young, 2007). Staff will praise her to reinforce the replacement behaviour (Brophy, 1981; Winter, 2011).
Amy’s problem behaviour was not looking at the teacher, interpreter and board instructions consistently in English sessions. She displayed frustration, withdrawals and refusals with signed directions, and distracted herself with fiddling with pencils/erasers. BIP was created to support her transformation of targeted behaviour into replacement behaviour which will benefit the involved parties (Knoster et al., 2000). FBA’s baseline data was useful for BIP construction as it detailed the events with antecedents, behaviours and consequences (Filter & Alvarez, 2012).
My personal response to Amy’s targeted problem behaviour which was typically of profoundly Deaf signing students who have discontent and dislike of the English language due to inability to understand, decode written expressions and interpret spoken sounds (Hyde et al., 2010; Salvia et al., 2007, 2010). My feelings were that Amy was unconfident and tried to escape from complicated English activities, and had arguments with her EI and teacher to avoid board instructions (Chandler & Dahlquist, 2010). Insightful learning is a theoretical practice which explains that pupils can be influenced in their attitudes to schooling due to various social, emotional and contextual aspects such as learning issues, problem behaviours, motivation and family background (Bruhwiler & Blatchford, 2011). My observation of Amy’s targeted problem behaviour was that it affected her learning due to dissatisfaction, difficulty with understanding English concepts and preference to gain adult attention for task assistance (Bruhwiler & Blatchford, 2011; Bear, 2010). CBM theory was a good model for me to determine and research on the function of the targeted behaviour (Beamish 2013; Appendix H). Thus, it assisted my knowledge about handling problem behaviours and linking different factors affecting Amy (Beamish, 2013; Umbreit et al., 2007). Ultimately, BIP greatly caused me to become aware of several problem behavioural issues influencing students with disabilities to misbehave in class (Steege & Pratt, 2013; Steege & Watson, 2009). BIP is a popular interventional tool in Special Education field (O’Neill et al., 1997). BIP would be essential for my success management with students’ problem behaviours (Croner & Horner, 2003). As a prospective educator, I must be cautious with using praise and encouragement with my learners as they have positives and negatives (Brophy, 1981; Fields et al., 2010; Hartley-Brewer, 2006). I will consult my future experienced colleagues for wise advice on creating effective BIPs, praising and giving appropriate rewards for best conduct and academic achievement (Winter, 2011) as supported by QCT’s Standard Nine for professional collaboration (QCT, 2006).
Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership [AITSL]. (2011). National professional standards for teachers. Retrieved from: http://www.teacherstandards.aitsl.edu.au
Bear, G. G. (2010). School discipline and self-discipline: A practical guide to promoting prosocial student behavior. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
Beamish, W. (2013). Positive behaviour support (Study guide). Mt Gravatt, Queensland, Australia: Griffith University.
Brophy, J. (1981). On praising effectively. The Elementary School Journal, 81(5), 268-278.
Bruhwiler, C., & Blatchford, P. (2011). Effects of class size and adaptive teaching competency on classroom processes and academic outcome. Learning and Instruction, 21, 95-108.
California Ear Institute [CEI]. (2013). Waardenburg Syndrome. Retrieved from: http://www.californiaearinstitute.com/
Chandler, L. K., & Dahlquist, C. M. (2010). Functional assessment: Strategies to prevent and remediate challenging behavior in school settings (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
Cope, R. G. (2007). How to plan for behaviour development and classroom management: Maximising student engagement. Frenchs Forest, Australia: Pearson Education Australia.
Crone, D. A., & Horner, R. H. (2003). Building positive behavior support systems in schools: Functional behavioral assessment. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center [ECLKC] (2002). Accommodating all children in the early childhood classroom. Retrieved from: http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-syste
Fields, M. V., Perry, N. J., & Fields, D. (2010). Constructive guidance and discipline: Preschool and primary education (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Merrill.
Filter, K. J., & Alvarez, M. E. (2012). Functional Behavioral Assessment: A three-tiered prevention model. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Hartley-Brewer, E. (2006). Praising boys well: 100 tips for parents and teachers. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press.
Hearing loss – Syndrome and condition list for congenital and progressive hearing loss (2007). Retrieved from: www.health.qld.gov.au/healthyhearing/
Hyde, M., Carpenter, L., & Conway, R. (2010). Diversity and inclusion in Australian schools. South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press. Knoff, H. M. (2012). School discipline, classroom management, & student self-management: A PBS implementation guide. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Knoster, T., Kincaid, D., Brinkley, J., Malatchi, A., McFarland, J., Shannon, P., Hazelgrove, J., & Schall, C. (2000). Insights on implementing positive behaviour support in schools. TASH Newsletter, 26(10), 23-25.
Larrivee, B. (2009). Authentic classroom management: Creating a learning community and building reflective practice (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders [NIDOCD]. (2010). Waardenburg Syndrome. Retrieved from: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/
O’Neill, R. E., Horner, R. H., Albin, R. W., Sprague, J. R., Storey, K., & Newton, J. S. (1997). Functional assessment and program development for problem behavior: A practical handbook (2nd ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company. Queensland College of Teachers [QCT]. (2006). Professional standards for Queensland teachers. Retrieved from: http://www.qct.edu.au/standards/index.html
Salvia, J., Ysseldyke, J. E., & Bolt, S. (2007). Assessment: In special and inclusive education (10th ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Salvia, J., Ysseldyke, J. E., & Bolt, S. (2010). Assessment in special and inclusive education (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Schwartz, R. A. (2013). Genetics of Waardenburg Syndrome. Retrieved from: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/950277
Steege, M. W., & Watson, T. S. (2009). Conducting school-based functional behavioural assessments: A practitioner’s guide (2nd ed.). New York, NY: The Guildford Press.
Steege, M. W., & Pratt, J. L. (2013). Functional behavioural assessment: The cornerstone of effective problem solving. In R. Brown-Chidsey & K. J. Anden (Eds.), Assessment for intervention: A problem-solving approach (pp. 125-143). New York, NY: The Guildford Press. Umbreit J., Ferro, J. B., Liaupsin, C.J., & Lane, K. L. (2007). Functional behavioral assessment and function-based intervention: An effective, practical approach. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Winter, B. (2011). PraiseMyStudents: A social network designed to reinforce and motivate positive student outcomes. The Community College Enterprise, 17(1), 63-66.
Young, J. (2007). 100+ ideas for managing behaviour (2nd ed.). London, England: Continuum.
Table 2. Support Program 1 (Replacement Behaviour) – Concentration
"This girl right here made the massive mistake of falling in love with a girl, instead of a boy. The ‘you are our child, we love you and being gay is okay’ moment never came for me, and the sentiments left in place left me completely crushed and broken. Before I really knew what was happening I found myself without a place to call home, only what I could jam into a beat up old Mazda 121 (which is bugger all, FYI) and a heartbreaking and mentally crushing conviction of what a failure I was. The next two years were filled with 16 hour days waitressing two jobs, battling to make ends meet and mostly failing uni. I didn't have any computer or laptop for uni and barely made classes. I was exhausted, isolated, depressed, anxious, and had little self-worth.
If it weren't for The Pinnacle Foundation providing me with one of their scholarships, I wouldn't have been able to complete my education. I think the likelihood that I would be here at all if Pinnacle hadn't stepped in is fairly slim - I was almost at breaking point and was teetering on the edge of a very dark place when Pinnacle jumped in and gave me back some hope. The scholarship gave my life direction and purpose again. Pinnacle gave me a laptop, paid for physics tutoring and work boots and provided me with textbooks, among many other things. I was lucky enough to have Pinnacle sponsor me a second year, for the final year of my degree, and that year I was even able to afford doctor visits and to seek counselling services. I actually even graduated. But most cherished were the gifts that most students take for granted; encouragement, emotional support, financial stability and especially hope. I graduated happy, confident and finally at peace with the human that I am. A few years ago I never, ever believed that I would finish uni. Now, I have a Bachelor, am partway through postgraduate studies, and scored a highly competitive position in my dream job, all while being a raging homo (just kidding - I don’t rage. Like at all, ever). I still can’t believe the happiness I have been capable of. Everything I am able to do now stems back to Pinnacle reinstating my self-worth at an extremely vulnerable time. Pinnacle gave me the means to embrace my future. !and become someone of value, and I will be forever grateful.” Ash Mellows #scholaralumni #pinnaclepeople ���x�(���q�
Great Teacher Tips
"What I have come to realize is that teachers who share are the best teachers."
Dean Shareski 2009
Know your subject, there will be times where you have to teach outside your curriculum area, beef up on the content and act confident.
Always maintain contact with parents! whether you send them a weekly email, call them or write notes in your students diary, you will keep them in the loop and develop effective working relationships with them.
Build rapport... this is thrown around a fair bit but how do we do it? My suggestion is to devote an entire lesson, or two, letting the students getting to know you and getting to know them.
Use ICT to help you teach, not to as substitute for teaching, use these to have the content available for students to refer to outside of the classroom and knowledge checks to assess their knowledge and understanding.
Participation is key, that includes the teacher. I prescribe to the philosophy of I will not make a student do something I would not do myself. When they see this they engage more in the class.
Set clear and explicit learning goals - outline what the students will be learning about from the start of the lesson and what steps they will need to take in order to succeed.
Take control of your emotions. Some days our students test us and we want to give into our emotions, be in control and keep calm, pick which battles to fight and which to allow some cool down time for before discussing with students who were not doing the right thing.
Even if you are having a bad day, smile, laugh and put 100% into teaching your students, because even if you were able to teach one student one thing. You have made a difference.
Gerard Stevenson. B. Theol. T.C. is the Director of well imagine that pty ltd. He has over 40 years experience in education in and outside the classroom. In the past 15 years he has worked with interactive technologies, in particular the use of interactive whiteboards as a teaching tool. He is also the Director and Producer of a community television series called Today’s Schools, which focuses on the fantastic things that teachers are doing in their classrooms in Melbourne schools. Gerard recently became a ventilator dependent quadriplegic following an accident at home. This article was written using Dragon Nuance voice activated software.
Imagine this. Travel back ten years in time. There are no iPads or enough computers in your classroom for one-to-one teaching and learning. You are still in the age of group instruction and whole classroom teaching.
Now for the sake of this “thought experiment”, you are an experienced and skilled maths teacher. (It’s not necessary to be a maths teacher for this experiment. Choose whatever subject area you like.)
In this idealised situation you only have two students in your class-Andre and Lucy. The object of today’s lesson is to introduce these two students on how to add fractions together. You are an experienced maths teacher, so you know most students respond to working hands on when it comes to fractions. So you give them blocks to work with. Each block can be pulled apart into four quarters. Both students have two blocks each or 8 quarters.
You start by having the students arrange their blocks into halves and then adding the halves together. Both Andre and Lucy grasp this concept quickly and easily. You then have them add two lots of ¾ together. Andre is obviously happy with the pace at which this lesson is progressing. Lucy, on the other hand, gets to the solution of the problem much faster than Andre and sits there tapping her fingers waiting for you to present the next problem.
Welcome to the dilemma that faced all maths teachers 10 years ago! Now in this case, with only two students, the solution is simple. Give Lucy more complex problems to solve while keeping Andre jogging along and slowly increasing the complexity for him. Then you juggle your time. When Lucy gets stuck you make sure Andre has got enough problems to keep him busy and you spend some time with Lucy. And then you reverse the process when Andre gets stuck.
This is the basis of adaptive teaching (adaptive learning). As a teacher you adapt your style and content according to the needs of each of your students. This of course is not new, but 10 years ago it was a dilemma for many teachers.
10 years ago, of course, a maths teacher might have 28 students or more in their classroom. Now, as an adaptive teacher, juggling your teaching time between students of varying ability and learning capacity becomes a daily challenge. One strategy might be to divide your class into three groups. The middle group will be the majority of students who are like Andre. You can teach them a concept and give them work on the concept. On either side of this group are 2 specialist groups. The first group are struggling with the concept you presented, so you have to reintroduce a concept in simpler terms or go back and teach them critical knowledge they are missing. This may prove to be quite time-consuming and will draw you way from working with the other two groups. The third group in this scenario are like Lucy. They are tearing ahead and looking for extra challenges. More likely than not you’re not going to give much time to this group because they are self-motivated and capable. However, you know that if you do give them more of your time they would fly ahead. All in all no group really benefits from your strategy because they are all deprived of satisfactory amount of teaching time with you.
Now come forward to the present day. The dramatic change has been the introduction of technology like iPads. For the first time, as a teacher, you can have all the students in your class working at the level and the pace that suits them. Software now can be designed so that it picks up weaknesses in a student’s knowledge and can take that student on a course of remedial instruction.
Third-party software is also available so that the teacher can monitor the progress of each individual student from single computer or tablet. This way the teacher knows which students need help and teaching intervention.
And the trend towards ever more sophisticated adaptive teaching and learning continues. In fact it soars. Now software can be added to a program so that the program itself can be improved and made more efficient. This software can record how long students take to answer a question or perform a task. More than that it can even detect hesitations in the students’ responses suggesting areas where the program might be improved. It can find these hesitations by measuring the time between keystrokes on the students’ devices. Even more controversial have been those devices that have been programmed to scan students’ eyes. This way the program can be altered visually to keep the student on track without distractions.
No one is talking about this yet but the technology is not far away that would allow a program to record eye dilations, breathing, pulse rates.
Regardless of all this, the ability of a program to learn about its own effectiveness and be modified to become more efficient means that adaptive learning and teaching is set to have a profound impact in the very near future. Imagine learning a foreign language with an adaptive teaching program. Where you are making good progress it will help you skip along. Where you are struggling it would patiently identify the steps that you need to remedy the situation. Imagine the enthusiasm and delight such a program would generate. So there we are. Is this, what could be a rampaging trend, a good thing or not so good?
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Regardless of your age, the opportunities to study now are significantly better than they were three decades ago. My parents didn’t have the opportunity to undertake higher education, being from a remote regional town and from a low socio-economic status background. Their study options and career paths were quite limited.
While moving to the city is still an issue for many regional students, and a cause for higher attrition rates in higher education, students today do move to the city to study. There are many more opportunities now for students to succeed, particularly if they have the ability and drive, coupled with adequate supports to study. There are also so many more opportunities to study online now, meaning regional students can stay in their local communities and with their families, if that’s what they’d like to do. Rural, regional and remote communities need educated young people to be the future doctors, nurses, teachers, accountants, lawyers, farmers, and so on. Regional universities play a part in keeping young talent in our regions by making higher education even more accessible. Also, over the last five years, the Australian Government’s Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Programme (HEPPP) has funded many more opportunities for students from low socio-economic status backgrounds to study at university. With government support, more students than ever before are able to access and participate in higher education. The current statistics show a 31% increase in undergraduate students participating in higher education, of which there has been a 44.9% growth in low socio-economic status students going to university. This is excellent news and not something we celebrate enough.
Equity Group Higher Education Participation, 2008 to 2014, Undergraduates, Various Years and Growth Rate from 2007.
Has this changed over the years? if so how?
Professor Sue Trinidad is the Director of the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) hosted at Curtin University and for the past three decades has been an active participant in the education sector as a primary educator, teacher educator, academic, researcher, and leader. FACULTY got the chance to talk to Sue about her career in education and her passion for inspiring educators over three decades.
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Positive early education experiences shape your learning for the rest of your life, and this education is truly lifelong learning as we never stop learning. In the early 1980s, when I began teaching, I was a teacher of Aboriginal children in a remote community in Western Australia. I began to understand then just how important it is to set up those sound educational foundations in young children and to instil the love of learning early in a student’s life journey. I think having a supportive family and/or community to assist you in your educational journey is crucial. My mother played a significant part in my education as she never had many opportunities herself to study. I was supported by her, but I knew I also had to work hard to achieve my degrees as I was the first person in my family to attend university (now commonly referred to as a ‘First in Family’ student). I also had to move to the city to study, away from the regional centre in which I had grown up. It wasn’t easy, but again, I was lucky at that time as my mother and father moved to the city with me and were able to support me during that time. Many of my peers did not complete university study as the move from regional areas to the city was too much of a culture shock for them, especially without family and community support structures in place. Statistics show us that this is still relevant today, particularly in Australian States where distance and resources are an issue.
WHAT DROVE YOU TO INITIALLY TO BECOME AN EDUCATOR?
We all know that ‘a good teacher makes a difference’ and most of us can recall a great teacher in our lives who really inspired us. My Year 5 teacher was my inspiration to become a teacher - she provided me with a model of what a good teacher was in my formative years. A ‘good teacher’ can see the potential in their students and is able to give them hope and inspiration to achieve to the best of their ability. Just as my Year 5 teacher inspired me and had an impact on my career path, my Year 5 teacher came to do further study at my university in the School of Education where I was teaching pre- and post-service teachers. I am so pleased I was then able to inspire her to go on to complete her Doctorate.
PROFESSOR SUE TRINIDAD
in the early stages of your career, what was your philosophy on education?
If you are an academic in a university, the normal progression is to complete a Doctoral degree. I completed mine in 1992 when my children were young, and they were the inspiration for my research. My PhD question was, ‘How do young children learn socially and cognitively using a computer?’ I gathered qualitative and qualitative data from over 120 preschool students using a computer in their classes. Again, this was 1992. It was quite cutting edge at that time. Things have certainly changed a great deal since with pre-schoolers bringing their iPad to kindy now days being proficient users of the technology.
In your eyes how has education changed over the last three decades?
Describe your experience as Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor and DEAn. What were some of the highlights? what were the challenges?
While my Doctorate was in an innovative area in the 1990s, I would love to do a comparison study today as the prevalence of mobile technologies and social media has completely changed our way of thinking and working in today’s world. I firmly believe that children still need the basics: to be taught how to think constructively and creatively, and how to work in teams and as individuals, as jobs are changing and will be very different in the not-too-distant future. The basics are still the same as they were in the 1980s. Everyone needs an acceptable standard of literacy and numeracy to graduate from school. I am pleased the Government is reinforcing a standard that must be achieved by all students graduating from secondary education. Over a third of secondary students will not reach this standard which is unacceptable in today’s education system and global economy. We must have standards in place, otherwise, what are students doing at school?
What was the reason behind undertaking a doctoral degree?
With a very strong interest in equity in higher education one part of my role was to oversee the implementation of the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Programme (HEPPP) funded initiatives in my Faculty. We had a high proportion of low socio-economic status students in our Faculty at that time; many were ‘First in Family’ and needed additional support to complete their study. We implemented a number of initiatives including one-to-one support through the ‘Ask Michele’ initiative. ‘Ask Michele’ was a dedicated phone number help system to provide first year students with support. Our attrition rate was higher than that of any other Faculty and many students would reach a barrier in their study and not talk to anyone about their issues, they just left the university. Being able to provide additional support and adequate support services and structures is so important when assisting equity students to complete their study as they often do not have family support which can be vital for success. My career highlights include being recognised for ‘making a difference’ through a number of awards for the work that I have been involved in over the years. In 2014, I was recognised with the Professional Teachers Council of Western Australia (PTCWA) Outstanding Professional Service Award, as well as the Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) Australian Awards for University Teaching Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning. In 2010, I received the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence and Innovation for our work in our Faculty and my research has been recognised through the Australian Computers in Education Council (ACEC) 2006 Best Paper for Rural, Regional and Remote Strand; and the American Education Research Association (AERA) 2004 Best Paper Award for the Special Interest Group – Learning Environments. My work with teachers has also been recognised through a Life Membership Award for Educational Computing Association of WA (ECAWA) and now I am the Director of the NCSEHE. I’ve had a wonderful fulfilling career ‘making a difference’ in people’s lives through education.
While it is impossible to have a perfect education system as we do not live in a perfect world, a good system is one that is fair and equitable and allows every individual learner the opportunity to learn. Everyone who has the ability should have an opportunity to pursue an education regardless of their socio-economic standing. The NCSEHE aims to inform equity policy design, implementation and institutional practice in the tertiary sector in Australia, to improve higher education participation and success for marginalised and disadvantaged people. My team and I are working hard to achieve that aim.
As a regional student coming from a low socio-economic status family, I've experienced first-hand how hard it is for regional students to have the opportunities that city students take for granted. My research has focussed on teaching and learning advances for regional and Indigenous students; it has been my passion throughout my career. Becoming the Director of a National Centre specifically researching student equity now gives me the opportunity to support and promote best practice in both research and teaching and learning, nationally and internationally. This role was a natural progression in my desire to make a difference. In my role as Director, I work with many universities and passionate and dedicated people across Australia. They are all involved in making a difference to the lives of students who may not have had the opportunity to achieve at school but do have the ability and determination to enter higher education and achieve a degree. It is immensely rewarding work.
What do you see as the perfect education system?
for the last three years, you have been director for the NCSEHE, what interested you in taking onboard this role ?
The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you
If someone is going down the wrong road, he doesn’t need motivation to speed him up. What he needs is education to turn him around.
Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.
It is in fact a part of the function of education to help us escape, not from our own time — for we are bound by that — but from the intellectual and emotional limitations of our time.
Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.
In this issue our student perspective gets a double whammy! Mother and daughter team Sam and May sat down with FACULTY to discuss their perspective on education.
FACULTY: First of all, thank you for joining us and agreeing to talk about your perspective on education.
May: All good!
Sam: It is our pleasure.
FACULTY: What do you think about the way school and education is now?
May: I reckon its fun!
FACULTY: So you reckon its fun. What about your thoughts Sam?
Sam: I really like the Open Education system, so people like myself (as a mature age student) can return to school easily and, without actually ‘returning to school’.
FACULTY: Sam you are studying, as you said a course through the open education system. Tell me a bit about this course and why you decided to undertake it?
Sam: I am studying a Bachelor of Social Science majoring in Psychology, through Swinburne University of Technology online. I decided to study because it is something I always wanted to do and made a decision, as a young parent, being able to study in my own time at home, this would be perfect for me.
FACULTY: Cool, you are in grade four is that right?
FACULTY: What are you doing in school currently?
May: We are learning about the ten thousands and thousands, Aboriginal history and health foods.
FACULTY: For both of you the way you learn as well as the way things are taught to you would be different. May what is a typical way you are taught in the classroom? What does your teacher do?
May: Usually, she stands at the front of the board and, writes down what we have to do and copy down on the board. She says to us if we need help to go up to her desk and see her.
FACULTY: What do you think about that? Is it a good approach? Could it be done better? May: I find it to be quiet good and it is okay.
FACULTY: Sam, what about you? How are things taught to you studying online?
Sam: Well, mostly I use the blackboard system, at first I found it hard to navigate. As I hadn’t been to school in ten years. Each week we get our learning materials, we get exercises to supplement those materials and, I enjoy it.
FACULTY: So there is a lot of reading in your course?
Sam: There is a lot, and it can be a little overwhelming! As a mature age student I have had to learn how to manage time better to allocate a priority to my studies so I have sufficient time to take on board the learning.
FACULTY: Now as May was saying, her teacher says if you need help come up to my desk and see me. When you need help, what is the standard routine for you?
Sam: We have a tutor we can contact, and there is various tools that can be used to help us with our assessments. However, studying online and not being on campus, it can be difficult to receive clarification on issues in a straightforward way; like you might in a classroom setting.
FACULTY: I suppose one of the major constraints would be that there is a delay in receiving the feedback or clarification?
Sam: Yeah totally! Sometimes the question you have asked you find in the interim and makes the process redundant.
FACULTY: Do you find that, even though help is there, you still have to go out of your way, it is an effect way to learn? You would ask the person for clarification or advice and in the interim you find the answer, so when they come back to you, it backs up your answer, is this an effective method?
Sam: I think there could be work done on this method for study, it makes you feel isolated; being out of the classroom and not having face to face contact. It can be at times disheartening. FACULTY: May, tell me what the best thing that the school does is?
May: They make sure if you don’t understand something, they help you. If you fall over and trip over they will make sure it is not that bad.
FACULTY: So they are very supportive and ensure it is a safe environment to learn in?
FACULTY: That’s good! Is there anything that you think they could do better?
May: No, nothing. My school is great and so is my teacher.
FACULTY: That is fantastic to hear! Now Sam, what is one of the best things about your course of study?
Sam: I would say living in this country and having the opportunity to undertake higher education at my age. Also not having the financial burden that people in other countries might have.
FACULTY: Yes that is very true, Australia is very good when it comes to educational access and equity. Now what about the downside, what do you think could be improved upon?
Sam: I think for mature age students, like myself, I had trouble with the academic writing, not being in high school but being in university, it was not something I had encountered before. I found this quiet difficult, I would have liked the first unit to be about that. FACULTY: Interesting, some high school students coming into university for the first time find that there is a gap in their writing ability and I know some universities such as Charles Sturt, include an academic writing unit at the start of a lot of courses. Would you say that this is something all courses should incorporate?
Sam: Definitely, I think without the necessary skills for academic writing it puts you on the back foot from the get go, which puts you at a disadvantage, whereas in other areas of study you might be doing quiet well. That can definitely sabotage you and put you back.
FACULTY: I completely understand your perspective on this. It limits your ability overall to do well, because you are missing that key skill.
Sam: Yes, it is like you are missing a foundation.
FACULTY: Now having mother and daughter studying together, how is that?
May: Good, I guess?
Sam: Do you help mum with study?
FACULTY: Does mum help you with study?
May: Sometimes, when I need help.
FACULTY: So mum lets you make your own mistakes and try figure them out? Does that help?
May: Yes, I think you learn better that way!
FACULTY: Great to hear, now Sam, what about yourself? How do you find studying alongside May?
Sam: Coming back to school now as a mature aged student, I can see the importance of May having a quality education and try to assist her with her learning as best as I can.
FACULTY: Undertaking study yourself, would it be right in saying you see, the potential May has for her future based on what you are both doing?
Sam: Yes definitely, now having seen the effort going into a university education, I would hope that if May sees me doing higher education now, she would, after high school be eager to pursue her dreams and further her education.
FACULTY: That’s good to hear. May, I know you are quirt young, but do you know what you may interested in doing when you grow up? What your dream job would be?
May: Either a palaeontologist or an Archaeologist.
FACULTY: Very nice! So you are going to study hard?
FACULTY: And you will have mum there to help and support you?
Sam: I definitely will be!
FACULTY: Sam and May, Thank you for your time and answering our question.
May: No worries!
Sam: It was a pleasure.
Many students are disengaged from the traditional form of education. As teachers, we are trained to teach explicitly the content and core skills. We have to manage the rowdy and complex behaviours of our students and, at times, we think “I've had enough” and give up on a student.
What if there was a better way to educate students? Well there is! At Beenleigh State High School, in a low SES region of South East Queensland, they have implemented a solution to engage students in developing skills for life, work and learning. This program is called ASDAN (Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network).
The ASDAN program was originally developed in the United Kingdom, growing from research at the University of the West of England in the 1980s and was formally established as an educational charity in 1991. The purpose of this program is: “the advancement of education, by providing opportunities for all learners to develop their personal and social attributes and levels of achievement through ASDAN awards and resources, and the relief of poverty, where poverty inhibits such opportunities for learners.” In 2010, Judy Raudon-Hill, launched the ASDAN program at Beenleigh High, with the support of Principal Matt O’Hanlon, enrolling 30 of the schools at-risk and disengaged students. The trial run of the program was described by Matt as showing the positives of the program. “It has encouraged, engaged and motivated these reluctant learners. Almost immediately, the signs of potential of the scheme became apparent. Many of these students who had attendance rates of below 50% suddenly leapt past 95% (the schools attendance target 90%); and the students began succeeding in their other subjects.”
Andrea was a “school refuser” who was bereaved after the death of a close family member and had suffered depression and anxiety. By her own admission, life did not seem worth living. She stated “I am now attending school full time studying English, Maths and music. I am currently passing all of them, with a B- in English and an A in music. I am still doing ASDAN at school as well. I am hoping to go to Japan in September for two weeks with other students.”
The ASDAN program works by reverse engineering the curriculum. Instead of building the curriculum to suit the needs of the teacher, it is built around the needs of each learner of the program. There are three awards that can be obtained: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Since the program’s inception at the school, Judy worked tirelessly with the Department of Education and the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority to gain some form of recognition for the students undertaking this program. The results have been more than what was expected, students who complete their Bronze award can move onto their Silver and Gold, gaining a QCE point for each award, which goes towards attaining their Queensland Certificate of Education. Further to this, the first student at the school (and Australia) to receive the Bronze Award, Kaleb, received his certificate from Federal Member of Parliament Bert van Manen after completing the program. Following Kaleb's success, a further 17 students have achieved Bronze, Silver or Gold certificates.
Visiting the program run at the school is, in itself, a unique experience. You walk in and are immediately greeted by a group of students who are smiling and enthusiastic. They are hard-working and excited to share the work they have been doing to attain their awards.
Each award consists of a portfolio task, where students have to collect evidence of their ability to undertake specific tasks to complete essential skills needed for life, work and learning. These can include tasks as simple as writing out how to get from their house to the school, all the way up to complex tasks such as managing the animals on the farm or the ASDAN garden. Judy explains that students can choose from challenges including designing a party menu, cooking a two course meal, movie review, art work, power-point, researching, money-handling, gardening, hand sewing, knitting and much more. They choose your challenges and create a portfolio of evidence.
In addition to this the program involves instructing students in literacy and numeracy skills, with at least one session a day set aside for these essential core skills, but set in a relaxed environment. Students can sit at a desk, lay on the ground or do their work on the arm chairs available. Other times, students receive work from their mainstream teachers and complete this in the ASDAN environment, including their assignments. One student stated that they prefer doing their mainstream subjects in ASDAN because they feel better supported to do their work and have the autonomy to learn at their own pace.
It was amazing to see students freely and autonomously applying their higher order thinking skills to resolve issues and approach learning. In contrast to the classroom environment where you are attempting to teach students to analyse and evaluate information in order to create a solution or conclusion, these students use these skills on their own accord, without instruction.
In one particular instance, two students explained that they made their own irrigation system in the greenhouse. They did this by taking a standard hose and puncturing small holes in it every several centimetres, then laid it on top of the greenhouse. At the terminating point of the house they attached a small sprinkler that was attached to a tree and shot out over the vegetable garden. When asked why they did this, they explained that they would have to fill up watering cans and walk these backwards and forwards, often spilling water along the way. Using the hose in itself to water the gardens would be time consuming as they would have to plug it in, spend time watering each section of the garden, then coiling it up and then storing it away. They explained this way it saved time and water, they would be able to do more study, while the garden and greenhouse was being watered through their creation.
One of the most interesting practices that I witnessed within the ASDAN program was the incorporation of animal therapy in the school environment. The students on a day-to-day basis would care for the chickens in the coop. While this to a degree links into the practice of animal therapy, the icing on the top of this already amazing program was Judy’s dog, who would be in the ASDAN environment every day. The students would take care of the dog during the day, play with him and pat him. The presence of the dog in the classroom seemed to calm the students and assist them on focusing on their work.
The ASDAN program is providing those who are at risk of disengagement in education with a second chance. These students are developing, with the assistance of Judy and her team, into mature young adults with a positive view on their education and development. If more schools invested in a program like ASDAN to assist those who are disengaged, at risk of disengagement or repulsed by the idea of school in general, the outcomes will be positive; ASDAN is education done right!
EDUCATION DONE RIGHT
Just after accepting my first teaching position I was filled with excitement, nerves and ideas. I went along to the beginning teacher’s conference with eyes wide open hoping to catch a glimpse of what was soon to come in my first year. Towards the end of our second day one of the speakers handed out envelopes and asked us to write letters to our future selves. We were asked to write down what was most important to us as teachers, and after a moment’s thought I wrote ‘that everyone gets what they need…’ It wasn’t until I started teaching that I realised that included my needs too. Working a full week after meandering around campus at your own pace for at least 4 years is a big wake up call. Regardless of how much effort you put into your studies you will feel a bit more exhausted than usual and that is to be expected. But the workload of a first year teacher is intense and currently I am working 7 days a week. It is 6am on a Saturday morning and I am up, dressed and preparing signage for one of my walls. I am also figuring out how to use One School and I am trying to re structure my behaviour management system because it is simply not working for the toughest kids in my class. In an hour I will be back at school marking homework and gluing in the homework for next week as I am tired of trying to mark books which have become crumpled messes with sheets that hardly made it through the week. I will spend the day writing a page of notes for every child attending parent teacher interviews next week and making sure their books are marked correctly so that I can show samples of work. And on Sunday I will have an equally long list of jobs to do before I go back to school for the following week.
Back to back work starting at 5 or 6 am until somewhere around 8 pm every night has been exhausting. Doing this every day back to back for 6 weeks straight with another 3 to go is even more so. Teaching is exhausting, but I keep going because I value learning and I want to make a difference to the lives of these children. At the end of every day I feel at least one reason to be satisfied- even on those yucky days when one of my students has forgotten to take his medication and is punching the carpet, or when one of my ‘angels’ just can’t cope with sitting up and needs to lie down like a starfish for most of the day. Or when that little boy with the tough background has tried to steal someone’s belongings for the 3rd time- there is always a reward to be found. Sometimes it’s just the random ‘I love you’ from one of the girls before they walk out the door, or the red hibiscus flowers that one of the boys brings me every morning without fail just to see me smile. Yes teaching can be exhausting, but it has its rewards too.
Last week I walked into my classroom and the teacher next door told me I looked really tired and asked if I was ok. I told her I had slept for 10 hours but that I still felt like a zombie and she urged me to go and see a doctor. Reluctantly I took a day off and I went for some tests which discovered an abnormality in my heart. The doctor told me that due to my heart condition I should avoid stress and I should completely stop what I am doing and sit quietly each time my heart stops beating rhythmically. Hmmm, not sure how I will do that in the middle of a lesson?? She also told me that tiredness is a symptom of my condition and that there is nothing I can do about it. Great.
Next week I will have parent teacher interviews every day after school and I will be there regardless of how tired I get. Life is so unpredictable but when you get that job you have been dreaming about for years, perhaps your whole life, you will power on anyway. I am normally the kind of person to push through no matter how I’m feeling but my first term of teaching has taught me that you need to give yourself time to rest, to stop. Somehow in between the mountainous pile of work that I need to get done today I am going to find some time to take my dog for a walk, I am going to sit on my veranda with a pencil and paper and draw with my own children, I am probably going to shut my door and sprawl out on the bed like I have been dreaming of doing all week so that I can take an afternoon nap because that is what I need. There are so many things which are important for a first year teacher to know but I am simply going to remind you that when you get out there, try your very best to meet the needs of your students- but try even harder to make sure you meet the needs of yourself. As one of the admin team at my school told me, your class is only going to be as good as you are.
By Laura Lee Leggett
A preservice teacher’s diary of differences, doubt and harboured hopes for her future By Erin Canavan
As I stood on tiptoes at the back of the classroom, carefully dismantling a captioned diagram of a meticulously decorated ladybeetle, I let my mind wander. I thumbed through my mental dictionary of all things education; let my memory redress the flutter click snapshot roll of three years of theory and practice at university and in schools. And, as I sorted the thumbtacks into their containers (by colour, then size), I thought about this year. My last year of teacher education. Replacing the boxes on the teacher’s desk, I realised, with a combination of panic and incredulity, that this year so far was all about disparity: between theory and practice, passion and pressure and misconception and reality. And honestly, as I watched the teacher’s Queensland cursive feathering lightly across the whiteboard (all the while envying her perfect penmanship), I wondered just what I was getting myself into.
It was in that very classroom, a few weeks earlier, that I came to conceptualise my first disparity. While it makes me sad that this generation of children will never know the joys of retro Lip Smackers, Saturday morning Cheez TV and literary gems like Roll Over, Pavlova!, this particular day proved to me an intergenerational affliction that all children share: a penchant for spending their formative years falling off things, tripping over things and running into things. More severe incidents usually culminate in heavy plaster casts which are quickly transformed into abstract artworks, teeming with colour and imagery. But the fun quickly wears off when you discover how hard school can be with an arm imprisoned in plaster (trust me, I know). And that frustration and despair was exactly what I saw when I went to help a small boy who was trying to manoeuvre his glue stick in between the tiny gaps in his cast to stick down some miniature ones squares. As I took his glue and helped him pick up the MAB debris spread over his desk, I became aware of the gap between theory and practice for this student. He could have done the task in a different way, but this option wasn’t made available to him. Internally, I grappled with the theory of differentiation in the classroom and the practice I was witnessing. Considering the needs of the individual in this scenario seemed something fundamentally impossible, with the frenetic pace of an outcomes-based, data driven curriculum demanding complete conformity to the content, thus generating an environment where the majority of students are playing catch up. And that was when I realised that my initial pangs of panic were actually justified.
Disparity number two (and the impetus for more panic) initially came through Facebook. Then the news. My colleagues at uni were incredulous, disbelieving. They couldn’t reconcile their exponentially developing passion for teaching with the news that an experienced teacher had voluntarily left the profession. As my phone vibrated with a consistent stream of messages (replete with angry emoji) from my fellow preservice teachers, analysing the minutia of the viral article and valiantly attempting (but miserably failing) to understand the decision, I read the social media post in silence. And I composed no conciliatory, objective replies (complete with innocuous, happy emoji) to my colleagues. Because I knew that every point in that article was valid. I realised, with a hint of sadness, that my limited professional experience so far was a textbook reflection of everything this teacher had written. And so, my panic just kept building. My final disparity is one that doesn’t invoke panic so much as righteous indignation. The further I’ve progressed through my studies, the more conscious I’ve become of the (completely misinformed) social stigma attached to the teaching profession. Clearly, when people think of ‘teaching,’ they think 9 till 3 workdays and a two month holiday at the end of the year. I bristle every time I hear this, biting back a retort about how the job is so much more than that. Beneath the furious façade, though, I am deeply concerned about the ubiquity of these misconceptions and how they might filter down to my students. And so, yet again, my panic intensifies.
After reading this, I’m sure you think that I permanently spend my time curled up in the foetal position, living in a perpetual state of worry about my future. While my ‘panic points’ are yet to manifest so extremely, and are really quite paradoxical, I’m still inclined (for the majority of the time) to think apprehensively and negatively about next year. I am concerned that any lofty ideals I hold now about student engagement and motivation gelling perfectly with challenging learning experiences will immediately be tarnished in the face of an increasingly crowded curriculum and an education system that is shifting beneath my feet. How can I remedy these disparities, I hear you ask? At this stage, my only answer is hope: hope that theory can be truly transformed when I teach, that pressure will be overpowered by passion and stigma will be swapped with shared understanding. And I hope, just as fervently, that my students can decode my cryptic cursive writing.
I have managed to be sneaky and slip this in after Nathan has done his final edit with the editors.
Over the last two years, the vision Nathan had for FACULTY was to share among educators at all levels the ideas and experiences we have all had.
I like many of our peers in the education community, have greatly benefited from the work Nathan has put forth.
Nathan undertook FACULTY while he was a third year undergraduate student at the Queensland University of Technology, he also managed to juggle the duties of this publication, spending much of his own money and dedicating many hours (and sleepless nights) into putting this publication together. Including while working and studying full time.
As such, I would like to publicly congratulate him on the successful completion of his Bachelor of Education (Secondary) and employment with Queensland Education as a HPE and Outdoor Recreation Teacher. In June he will be conferred with both his Bachelors Degree and Associates Degree in Adult and Vocational Education.
Congratulations Nathan, and all the best for the future.
Social Media and Communications Coordinator
Online Magazine for Australian Educators
We are currently after submissions for Issue 2 and beginning to accept submissions for Volume 4 (2017) if you are interested please email: Director@facultymagazine.com.au