Posts Tagged ‘Paperwork’

5 Ways the System Could Better Recognise Teachers

October 5, 2014

world teachers day

It’s World Teacher Day! It’s great having a day totally devoted to teaching but imagine if it came with a gesture … or maybe 5:

 

1. From now on we are limiting your paperwork to manageable levels – Yearly planners, term planners, weekly planners, daily planners, Integrated planners – I go planner mad! I spend more time working on planners in a week than sleeping. And do the planners make me a better teacher? No way! If anything it makes it harder for me to find time to develop and prepare for the kind of engaging lessons my students need.

2. From now on you don’t have to halt your everyday teaching for every little new cause – Whenever something disturbing happens in society the reaction always seems to be , “All we need to do is educate our children about it”. The result being, lessons on nutrition, resilience, anti-bullying,  anti-gambling, anti-drugs, anti-smoking, responsible alcohol consumption, treatment of women, road safety, bike safety, cybersafety, stranger danger, first aid, body image, sex ed … and the list goes on and on. It’s not that these areas are not important. Far from it. It’s just that if you want me to cover these areas you should be excusing me for all the maths and science I haven’t been able to fit in.

3. From now on just the one staff meeting will suffice – One weekly staff meeting before school meeting and 2 after school weekly meetings is just too excessive. Don’t get me wrong, I love talking shop (this blog proves that), but I have a family. The best workplaces recognise that the home work balance is essential to being a good employee. Extra staff meetings are great for building stress among teachers, not results.

4. From now on we have decided to stop caring how colourful your classroom looks like – As I have admitted before, I would make a terrible interior decorator.  For some reason some bosses are fixated with grand noticeboards and classy themed classroom designs that do little to showcase the childrens’ work and do more to showcase a teacher’s ego. What results is a competitiveness among the teachers to have the glitziest classroom, whilst hacks like me must settle for a rather large dose of ‘classroom envy’.

5. From now on we are scrapping kitchen clean-up duty – Can you imagine instructing one or two of your students to clean up the mess left by the entire class? Why on earth are we teaching our children to clean up after themselves but refuse to live by that philosophy ourselves? Here’s a novel idea. When a teacher decides to make a cup of coffee, that teacher and that teacher alone is responsible for making sure that he/she cleans up any mess made and washes the dirty mug once finished. It makes sense, doesn’t it?

 

Click on the link to read Teachers, Lay Down Your Guns

Click on the link to read 4 Ways to Identify a Great Teacher

Click on the link to read 3 Examples Why Robin Williams Would Have Made a Great Teacher

Click on the link to read Failure is Part of Success

Click on the link to read Apparently Cool Kids Really Do Finish Last

Education New Year’s Resolutions 2014

January 1, 2014

2014

With resolutions abounding as the new year arrives, I think it’s apt for our education system to undertake some resolutions of its own:

  1. Work Harder to Manage Cyberbullying Issues – Schools seem more interested in covering themselves legally than actually fixing a problem. Because cyberbullying usually happens off premises, the argument has been that it is a parental issue rather than a school issue. This is an insensitive approach. Schools, administrators and teachers must see themselves as crucial stakeholders in dealing with this problem. The welfare of their students rely on a multi-faceted approach.
  2. Stop Changing the Curriculum – In a bid to be seen to be doing something effective to improve student results, politicians continually change the curriculum so that they can boast about how they overhauled an ineffective syllabus.  In the last ten years I have seen 4 changes of curriculum, each of them decidedly more complicated and inferior to the one being replaced. This makes us teachers dizzy, costs the tax payers a fortune and achieves nothing for the student. We must resolve to put a moratorium on any changes to the curriculum. I don’t want even a comma or full stop tampered with for at least a decade.
  3. Respect Teachers’ Time – Even before the school year starts I have to submit Yearly Planners for literacy and numeracy, term planners for literacy numeracy and science, integrated planners covering my overriding topic of inquiry and weekly planners for maths and literacy covering my lesson for the first week. Then I need to continue the weekly planners and term planners throughout the year. These planners are incredibly detailed and onerous. They simply take a disproportionate amount of time. To deliver fun, engaging lessons, I need to spend less time on the paperwork. It is becoming fashionable for teachers to copy/paste their planners from specially made internet subscriptions sites that contain lessons covering the curriculum. Whilst this saves time, the lessons on these sites are often excruciatingly boring for the students. The best way to get teachers to teach in a fresh manner is to keep them fresh by reducing the paperwork.
  4. Make Politicians Accountable by Not Accepting Their Spin – Lazy politicians like to brag about how much money they are pumping into the system or how they have changed the curriculum, when neither is a major determinant in student performance. Politicians should start to focus on the major areas requiring change such as improving teacher training quality, support for new teachers, reducing teacher stress and helping schools achieve better welfare outcomes for their students.  In fairness to the current Federal minister, he has spoken about some of these matters. Let’s hope he is is able to deliver.

Click on the link to read Eight Fundamentals that Every Student Deserves

Click on the link to read 21 Reasons to Become a Teacher

Click on the link to read  25 Amusing Signs You Might Be a 21st Century Teacher

Click on the link to read  20 Questions Teachers Should Be Asking Themselves

Click on the link to read School Official Allegedly told a Teacher to Train her Breasts to not Make Milk at Work

I’m Drowning in Paperwork: Please Pass the Snorkel

February 3, 2011

I admit it.  The allegations are true.  I am a tree-killer!

It’s not my fault, of course.  In the short time I have been teaching, the paperwork demands on a teacher have grown from taxing, to barely manageable, to excessive, and now – out of control!

Why?  Why, at a time when teachers are being criticised for their students’ low performance data and failure to deliver on outcomes, is the paperwork demands of a teacher so high?  Surely time would be better spent developing engaging lessons.

The answer is simple.  The rules applying to all teachers are in place to cover the lesser achieving teachers.  The assumption is that if a lazy teacher wasn’t told what to do, how to think, what to cover, how to plan and who to cater for, they wouldn’t achieve anything.  By forcing teachers to complete crazy amounts of paperwork, they are treating all teachers as if they were inert, fraudulent, apathetic stooges.

Take the planning requirements, for example.

Is planning important?  Absolutely!  Planning is important for three main reasons:

1.  It shows what you are teaching your students in a week, term and year.

2. It helps you organise thoughts and properly sequence the concept or skill you are teaching.

3.  It provides a comprehensive guide for a casual relief teacher, should you not be able to teach your class.

As important as planning may be, it can still go overboard.  In the summer holidays alone I had to complete first term planners for literacy and numeracy, yearly planners for literacy and numeracy, a 10 page integrated planner for my topic of inquiry (Federation) and weekly planners for both numeracy and literacy.  The amount of hours I spend on those darn things doesn’t correlate with how useful they turn out to be.

The rationale that by spending hours upon hours on these planners,  an average teacher will become transformed miraculously into a more focussed and effective educator is just plain wrong.  On the contrary, it forces some teachers to cut corners by mindlessly copying dull, lifeless units from textbooks.  With all that paperwork, teachers often become too concerned with deadlines and time restrictions to go to the trouble of conceiving original and fresh lesson ideas.

And it’s not just planning.  There’s professional learning contracts which chart the goals, reflections and progress of the teacher, class newsletters, letter to parents, school policy feedback forms, incident report documentation, worksheets, homework, curriculum night summaries, parent teacher interview folios and I’m sure there’s more, because … there’s always more!

I’m not trying to play the victim here.  I love my job and understand the value of the above requirements.  It’s just that the sheer amount of  paperwork clearly gets in the way of a teacher’s natural desire to spend less time meeting arcane professional standards and more time excelling in delivering fun, vibrant and engaging lessons.

I’d love to write more on this topic, but unfortunately, I’ve got more paperwork to finish.

 


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