Tag Archives: change management

A Change in the Classroom

10 Oct

mentor-cartoon

Change happens whether we like it or not. Schools were instituted upon two fundamental certainties:

(1) Knowledge has unique value and is known best by experts

(2) The way we communicate with each other is limited by time and, very often, location.

In New Zealand have seen very significant shifts in these certainties in recent years, shifts that should have significant implications for schools.

I have been contemplating this change by keeping in mind the tools we have and our students use. What use is knowledge in the age of the smartphone? Most students carry the sum total of human information with them each day. A great deal of teaching must go around this too. If a taxi driver takes you to your destination from memory or GPS, do you care? If the GPS version is cheaper, do you begin to care?

My daughter the other night had the task of adding roman numerals for homework. To solve the problem she used a smart phone. I am certain that is not the way her teacher intended the task to be solved by that was it was awesome to observe.

Do we allow the same freedom to students with basic questions that Google can answer for them or do we judge them critically for using technology that they use naturally on a daily basis in every circumstance except school? If Siri knows basic arithmetic and the capitals of the world, do we still need to spend time on these thing?

These are the questions we should be asking to ensure we are heading in the right direction for our students? For it means more time teaching critical thinking and messy play.

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Head of Faculty Inquiry Part Two

20 Jan

course-landing-teacher-student-books2

Here are some more thoughts on our inquiry.

Reasons for compulsory subjects

Compulsory subjects exist because the learning areas in which they belong are regarded as fundamental to building the key competencies of students. Some reasons for making some secondary school subjects compulsory include:

The perception that many students do not always know what might be best for their future learning or employment. This is highlighted by the shortage of skilled professionals in certain employment areas, and the comparative over supply in others. A high level of knowledge in these learning areas is essential to developing a career in some professions. It is important that a “foundational” knowledge is developed at secondary school.

Reasons for freedom of subject choice

Subject choice in schools is consistent with the principle of “self-directed learning”, in which students decide what learning areas they have an interest in and would like to develop further skills and knowledge.

Greater freedom in subject choice in linked with greater student satisfaction, and higher performance at secondary school.

Somethings that need to be considered:

What key competencies and knowledge will students require to be successful in the modern workforce?

What key competencies and knowledge will students require to ensure they will be able to make decisions about complex social, economic and technological issues?

How important are subjects such as science, maths, digital technologies in modern society?

Should more subjects be compulsory? If so, which ones?

Should students have more choice about the subjects that they take currently? If so, which subjects shouldn’t be compulsory?

Head of Faculty Inquiry

18 Jan

course-landing-teacher-student-books2

We talk a great deal at school about creating students with our dispositions (ako, manaakitanga and wahine toa).  This year the main body of our work is looking into our curriculum. Asking the question is what we are teaching meeting the needs of our students?

The purpose of the New Zealand education system and here at Sacred Heart is to equip our students with the knowledge, skills and values to be successful citizens. Educational curriculum should meet the needs and current demands of the culture, the society, and the expectations of the population being served. To achieve this vision, the Government directs what students should learn through its national curriculum.

Continually updating school curricula helps equip the next generation to contribute effectively in our rapidly changing world. In New Zealand, there are concerns that school curricula may not be developing the skills and knowledge necessary to meet the challenges of the future. There is concern about a lack of financial education, that participation and performance in science and mathematics are decreasing, and that there is a need for teaching in citizenship and environmental sustainability areas. There is also discussion as to whether languages such as Te Reo Māori should be compulsory.

In our rapidly changing world, continually updating school curricula ensures that the next generation is fully equipped to function well in society. There is a growing need for specialised training for certain career pathways, which requires more formal training. This has created greater demand for greater thought to be put into vocational pathways in secondary school, to help ensure a smooth transition into on-going education, training or work.

The New Zealand Curriculum is the statement of official policy relating to teaching and learning in New Zealand schools. It sets out the vision and principles that are the foundations of decision-making in school curriculum. Schools are required to base their curriculum on the principles of the Curriculum, to encourage and model the values, and to develop the key competencies at all year levels.

Under the National Administration Guidelines, the national curriculum is compulsory until Year 10, so schools are required to provide subjects that relate to the learning areas above and are compulsory for all students. Currently, secondary schools in New Zealand provide a mixture of compulsory and elective subject choices.

Schools must keep up-to-date with the continuous evolution of knowledge and technological change, so students and fully equipped to function well in society.

Specific issues perceived as being important to address include:

a lack of financial education.

failing participation and academic performance in “core” subjects such as science or mathematics.

ensuring students have the skills to keep up with rapid technological innovation.

Lets see how the journey goes.

Yeah But…..

6 Nov

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Who is the person on your staff you can predict will say, “Yeah But?” We can all picture that person. When the principal says, “We are going to implement a new system to support our gifted students” this teacher responds on que, “Yeah But!” When the assistant principal says “I would like to send you to a national conference for social studies teachers” – the teacher replies, “Yeah But…..I am having a guest speaker that week.” As a member of the SLT I get frustrated with the “Yeah But” response. However, there are teacher who respond, “Yeah But!” and have added value  with “I believe we could support more students if we…….”
A teacher who challenges the process and forces everyone in the organization to think is serving as a teacher leader. One of the most popular leadership books over the past 25 years is a book titled, The Leadership Challenge (1987). Kouzes and Posner (1997) wrote that leaders Challenge the Process. A teacher who challenges the process, may provide valuable input for school improvement or implementing school programmes.
Schelchty (1993) wrote an article on teacher leadership titled and noted  “Staff known as settlers need to know what is expected of them and where they are going” (Schlechty, 1993). Who are the Settlers on your staff? A settler could be a strong teacher leader, but they may resist until the details of the program are clear and they feel confident that this will not become the “Flavor-of-the Month” initiative. You  can identify the settlers on staff and seek out their input prior to making an announcement about a new program or goal. With the input of a settler, the principal can have a deeper understanding of what reservations staff members have and can develop FAQs, offer additional information, or adjust the implementation timeline.
Many principals view the person who asks questions as a challenging teacher leader and may not value the challenges as much as the teacher who is willing to say yes and move forward with any project or school improvement goal. Indeed these people can effect change more than you think.
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