Posts Tagged ‘Teacher Union’

Finally, a Step Forward in Education

February 19, 2014


I have been saying over and over again that something has to be done about the poor quality of teacher training. I have written to education ministers and tried to sell the message through this site, that improved teacher training was a must. Even though I was certain that an overhaul of our teacher training courses would bring immediate results, I felt that no politician would have the courage to even look at this area, let alone actively take the project on.

I am overjoyed to be proven wrong:

Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne will announce on Wednesday a far-reaching review into teacher training in a bid to make education degrees less ”faddish” and ”ideological”.

Australian Catholic University vice-chancellor Greg Craven – a vocal opponent of minimum entry scores for teaching degrees – will chair an eight-member advisory panel to report to Mr Pyne by the middle of this year.

An eight-member ministerial advisory group will report by the middle of the year on how education degrees at universities can better prepare new teachers.

“There is absolutely no reason at all why Australia, as one of the wealthiest countries in the world … shouldn’t have the best teacher training in the world,” Mr Pyne told reporters in Adelaide on Wednesday.

“I want it to be more practical, I want them to have better experiences in the classroom rather than in universities and I want it to be less theoretical.”

Mr Pyne said the only way the federal government could influence teacher quality was by looking at university courses.

He suggested the standard was too low because very few people failed teaching degrees.

But he said imposing minimum entry scores for teaching degrees was a “blunt instrument” that would not guarantee quality.

Instead he wants the advisory body to have a particular focus on in-classroom training.

“My instinct is that the more a teacher is in the classroom learning on the job about how to teach people how to count and to read, the better,” he said.

Amen to that!

Click on the link to read my post Tips For New Teachers from Experienced Teachers

Click on the link to read, ‘Teachers Trained Very Well to Teach Very Poorly

Click on the link to read my post 25 Characteristics of a Successful Teacher

Click on the link to read my post 10 Important Tips for New Teachers

Blaming the Teacher Whilst Letting the Administrators Off the Hook

September 18, 2011

I’ve been writing about this for a while.  Education is supposed to be a team effort.  All parts of the system are supposed to work with each other and for each other.  Yet, it always seems to be that the teachers get singled out for blame.  Poor testing results – blame the teachers, a bullying problem – blame the teachers, lack of classroom control – yep, let’s blame the teachers for that too.

The question has to be asked: At what point do we focus our attention on the administrators when handing out the blame?  It seems to me that whilst there is always going to be poor teachers in the system, nowhere near enough focus is directed to policy makers as well as those in management positions and on school counsels.

That’s why it is refreshing to have documentaries like “Waiting for Superman” and articles like the one written by Saul Rubinstein, Charles Heckscher and Paul Adler in the L.A. Times:

Most of the current efforts to improve public education begin with the flawed assumption that the basic problem is teacher performance. This “blame the teacher” attitude has led to an emphasis on standardized tests, narrow teacher evaluation criteria, merit pay, erosion of tenure, privatization, vouchers and charter schools. The primary goal of these measures has been greater teacher accountability — as if the weaknesses of public education were due to an invasion of our classrooms by uncaring and incompetent teachers. That is the premise of the documentary, “Waiting for Superman,” and of the attacks on teachers and their unions by politicians across the country.

Much of the current wave of school reform is informed by the same management myths that almost destroyed U.S. manufacturing. Instead of seeing teachers as key contributors to system improvement efforts, reformers are focused on making teachers more replaceable. Instead of involving teachers and their unions in collaborative reform, they are being pushed aside as impediments to top-down decision-making. Instead of bringing teachers together to help each other become more effective professionals, district administrators are resorting to simplistic quantified individual performance measures. In reality, schools are collaborative, not individual, enterprises, so teaching quality and school performance depend above all on whether the institutional systems support teachers’ efforts.

Whilst I am not a fan of unions, it upsets me that teachers are often singled out when there are other integral stakeholders who should be sharing the blame for poor results.

Teacher Stress a Real Issue

April 27, 2011

At a time when teachers are being unfairly picked on by politicians and the media and forced to take the heat for standardized test results and missed benchmarks, there is no wonder why teachers are suffering from stress.  The paperwork is ridiculously high and the support is nowhere to be seen.

Just look at what toll it is having on teachers in Britain:

An increase in Government targets and high-stakes Ofsted inspections is fuelling a rise in serious mental health problems among school staff, according to teachers’ leaders.

Most teachers said behaviour policies in schools were inconsistently enforced, allowing many pupils to get away with bad behaviour

The National Union of Teachers claim stress is now the main reason for driving teachers out of the profession.

It follows the publication of figures last year that showed almost 309,000 school teachers – more than half of the workforce – were signed off sick for an average of two weeks in 2009.

The NUT claim that staff are now routinely expected to work more than 50 hours a week after being swamped by marking and form-filling.

Speaking at the union’s annual conference in Harrogate, activities told how many teachers were resorting to alcohol to get through the day or even attempting suicide because of the workload.

Sue McMahon, branch secretary for Calderdale, West Yorkshire, said: “As a divisional secretary I have seen a meteoric rise in work-related stress and in more than one occasion have had to support a member who has attempted suicide.”

She said the problem was being caused by “the demands being placed on our members to hit Government targets”.

“We got into teaching to teach, not to be beaten by the target-driven culture of those Stepford heads who relish the Government agenda,” she said.

“The target tsunami escalating from the aspirations of this Government is sweeping away those [teachers] that you are struggling to support. And as the wave gets bigger it is leaving a trail of devastation in its wake that used to be a world class education system.”

Teachers need more support and consideration.  It isn’t an easy profession, and yet it continues to be more taxing and highly stressful than ever before.  Less paperwork, less beaurocracy, more support and more leadership from our politicians and administrators please?

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