Posts Tagged ‘reports’

Sometimes the Union Makes me Embarrassed to Call Myself a Teacher

November 5, 2012

I know that is it very unpopular for a teacher to be criticising the Education Union and I invite my readers who have been assisted by the union to defend them if they wish.

I was angered to hear that teachers through the union have been sending notes home to parents stating that they will not be writing end of year reports for their students. Why? Because they haven’t been paid enough money. Well, any teacher who abides by this nonsensical ruling doesn’t deserve to get paid a cent more!

I believe that teachers should be paid more than they do, but what a teacher gets paid is not as urgent as their duty to put their students first. Teachers and nurses do a fine job and deserve more than what they are earning. But we knew when we signed up for the job that the pay wasn’t fantastic. Yet, we still chose to become teachers and nurses. Why?

I hope the answer is because we felt that making a difference was more important than making a fortune.

The union have blinkered our teachers. Instead of helping us to nurture and inspire our students they have tried to make us selfish and unprofessional. Writing reports is a professional duty. Giving parents current and comprehensive feedback on the progress of their children is of paramount importance. Failing to do so on account of a few dollars is outrageous!

The children are not the ones underpaying us. The parents are not the ones to blame either. Leave them out of this. We are supposed to put them first. We are not supposed to lose sight of what we are trying to achieve here.

The unions are a shameless bunch. They have a record of bullying non member teachers (like myself) and through their greed have turned a sympathetic public well and truly off our cause.

I realise that many (if not all) will disagree with me. I encourage them to do so. This blog is about giving everyone the opportunity to debate the issues that effect education in a robust and thorough fashion.

I just can’t help but agree with the assessment of this parent who wrote of her outrage at receiving one of these letters:

I received late last week from my children’s school indicating that their teachers will not be writing any comments (apart from general behavioural ones) in the end of year reports this year. This means that students will have a very scant record of the year’s work particularly when it comes to specialist areas like LOTE and art. I have a son in prep so his end of year report for this year is pretty important.

I think asking students to forgo feedback for the year so that teachers can get a few more dollars shows a breathtaking lack of professionalism on the part of the teachers and an entitlement mentality that is just extraordinarily arrogant. If I had tried this sort of tactic in the private sector – refusing to complete reports for clients because I wanted more money – I would certainly have been sacked (and rightfully so).

Click on the link to read If Teachers Were Paid More I Wouldn’t Have Become One

Click on the link to read Pressure in the Workplace

Click on the link to read Sick Teachers Need to be Arrested not Fired!

Click on the link to read Teaching Union Wants Porn on the National Curriculum

Report Writing That Says a Lot Without Saying Anything

November 25, 2011

It’s report time again, which means the long nights and deep frustrations have arrived.  Many will think I’m strange, but when I first started in  teaching, I was looking forward to writing reports. I saw it as an opportunity to inform the parents about how well I know their child. Communication with parents has always been very high up my priority list, and I saw reports as the centrepiece of good quality communication.

But since I became a teacher the rules for report writing has changed, and we are all worse of as a result.

The Government has legislated that reports all feature the same grading system and the same essential sections.  Two such mandatory inclusions include a list of skills in every area that the students need improvement in and what the school will do to address these needs.

Sounds good, right?

Wrong. Schools across Australia are so terrified that if the teacher doesn’t end up addressing the needs of the students as promised in the reports, then it will open them up to litigation. So schools have quickly searched for a loophole, a strategy designed to be seen to guarantee things to parents without actually guaranteed anything.

And out of that think tank came every teachers new buzz word – ‘encourage’.

“The school will encourage Max to underline key words when reading worded questions.”

“The school will encourage Rita to use rubrics before planning a piece of writing.”

So in the end, the school is offering no actual response to the child’s needs, just some “airy fairy” words that don’t actually mean anything.

And then there’s the “education” words that don’t make any sense to most parents.  Because many teachers are expected to leave out hard truths like, “Max doesn’t behave in class” and “Rita doesn’t apply enough effort”, teachers have employed words that the average parent wouldn’t understand.

For example, teachers love using words that start with “meta” like “metacognitive”, “metalanguage” and “metabolic steroids” (OK, maybe not the last one).  As the custom is to spare the school of angry or dissatisfied parents, teachers have become great at writing reports high on words and low on substance.

It’s actually harder and more tiresome than it sounds.

Report Writing Can Be So Dispiriting

June 14, 2011

Remember the day when teachers actually got to speak their mind?  When they were able to put an evaluation of a child in writing without fear of a lawsuit?  I’m afraid those days are long gone.

Report writing is as bigger chore now as it has ever been.  Required to complete at least 2 a year, I stay up nights on end in the lead up to my report writing deadline, typing away, without any idea why reports need to be so long and arduous.

The following are 5 frustrating features of a modern-day school report:

1.  It is often written in technical language that makes no sense at all to parents.  This is a ploy by the teacher to use up as much space as possible, make themselves look extra professional and write in such a way that parents have no idea what they are talking about (so they wont have what to complain about).  I feel sorry for parents that genuinely try to read their child’s report, only to be left totally confused by the experience.

2.  The Government is scared that put in the hands of teachers, reports would be too short and wouldn’t include enough detail.  That is why they have directed teachers to write about every detail about the child, down to how neat his/her desk is and how clearly he/she speaks in public.  That means Primary school teachers must write over 1000 characters each in four sections (General Comment, Maths, English and Unit of Inquiry).  Added to that the teachers need to isolate skills yet learnt and pinpoint how they are going to help the students catch up in these areas.  It’s just too long!

3. Similarly, the Government wanted students to be graded according to an insane scale.  The letter grade “B” means the child is a semester ahead, “C” refers to where the child should be, and “D” means the child is a semester behind.  There is “A” and “E”, but teachers are advised not to go there because it makes the school look bad.  In other words, if your student is going well, you give them a “C” – go figure!

4.  The report tell you nothing of real substance!  The threat of lawsuit is too great.  It’s designed to say a lot without saying anything at all!

5.  Teachers are so exhausted from writing these blasted reports that they come to school tired and emotionally drained.  Their planning time has been compromised, so often their lessons are less engaging.

I am as happy with my reports as the constraints lets me be.  I feel as though I’ve written in “plain speak”, demonstrated that I know my students and have shown an understanding of where they are at academically and socially.

But I am so drained!

Why does it have to be like this?

Bizarre Ideas in Education

February 24, 2011

I’ve written about this before, but I still can’t believe that this insane idea is gaining momentum.  Yes, it’s true that teachers often get frustrated by what they believe is negligent parenting of their students.  Does that give them the right to formally assess their perceived incompetence?

The idea of giving teachers the responsibility to write report cards about their students’ parents is ridiculous.  Yet, the idea is not going away:

Legislation from a Florida lawmaker has parents pondering how they’d be graded on their involvement in their child’s education: satisfactory, unsatisfactory or needs improvement?

Public school teachers in Florida would be required to grade the parents of students in kindergarten through the third grade, under a bill introduced by Rep. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland.

The bill has gotten the married mother of five national attention because there’s been so much emphasis on tying teacher salaries and advancement to student performance.

“We have student accountability, we have teacher accountability, and we have administration accountability,” quotes Stargel as saying, “This was the missing link, which was, look at the parent and making sure the parents are held accountable.”

The grading system is based on three criteria that Stargel wrote in the legislation:

• A child should be at school on time, prepared to learn after a good night’s sleep, and have eaten a meal.
• A child should have the homework done and prepared for examinations.
• There should be regular communication between the parent and teacher.

Unbelievable!  Is it not the child’s responsibility to take ownership over their own homework? Did I just read that a child should have eaten a meal?  If a teacher is aware that their student isn’t being fed, the teacher has a responsibility to notify child protection authorities, not mess around with assessment forms!

Sure there are bad parents out there, but what is a report card going to achieve anyway?  How is a report going to change the error of their ways?

“Thanks teacher.  I needed that. I had no idea I was a bad parent.  I feel so much better now!”

I suppose, teachers needn’t worry.  A policy as silly as this will never be seriously contemplated.  Well, at least I hope not ….

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