Posts Tagged ‘University’

Why Principals Overlook Young Teachers

June 11, 2014




I can say with great certainty that the standard of teacher training in this country is lamentable. In my view it is the single biggest factor when it comes to our slipping academic standards. Teachers coming from years of university training are just not ready for the rigors of teaching.

It isn’t surprising that Principals have noticed this. That is why new teachers often find it extremely difficult to get their first job. They are constantly overlooked, regardless of their grades, passion, determination and communication skills. They aren’t overlooked for who they are, but rather where they have come from.

But where the Principals get it all wrong is that they place the blame on the quality of the teachers graduating rather than the quality of the training program. This is a cheap shot and is extremely unfair to the exuberant and idealistic teacher graduates served so poorly by training courses steeped in the theoretical and starved of the practical:


TEACHERS should face one-year internships before they get jobs, to stop underperformers permanently entering classrooms, principals will tell the Federal Government.

Australian Secondary Principals Association executive director Rob Nairn said school heads wanted to see a better selection process for teacher education and year-long internships — longer than current teacher practical places — could be a way of doing it.

“At the moment, we have some teachers who are underperforming,” he said.

“We have got to get better at selecting teachers for teacher training.

“We then have to get better at supporting those teachers and developing those teachers so that every teacher is a good teacher.”

Mr Nairn said the principals association would be suggesting the changes to the Federal Government’s Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group.


Click on the link to read my post The Bizarre Call to Train Teachers Specifically for Left-Handed Students

Click on the link to read my post Why Professional Development for Teachers is Often Useless

Click on the link to read my post Finally, a Step Forward in Education

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

Click on the link to read my post, Do experienced teachers give enough back to the profession?




The Maths Professor who Understands the Importance of Engaging a Class

July 13, 2012

It’s fantastic to see a teacher who understands how important it is to keep the class involved and engaged:

Maths is not usually top of the list when it comes to favourite subjects at school.

But one teacher has found a novel way of getting his pupils attention.

Professor Matthew Weathers starts all his lessons with comical introduction piece – and now his endeavors are causing a stir on YouTube.

In the latest of his videos, the maths genius, who teaches at the Biola University in California, piques the curiosity of students learning about imaginary numbers with an impressive display of computer wizardry.

He creates a double of himself on a computer which appears on a white board behind his desk and then proceeds to chat to his imaginary self.

His class burst into fits of giggles as his double asks him to stop interfering in the lesson, asks him to leave the room and tells him off when he tinkers with the microphone.

The video has already amassed 17,000 YouTube hits.

Mr Weather said: ‘I like asking interesting questions or telling interesting stories but with a smaller class, it’s easier to do tricks on them.

‘I upload my videos on YouTube so my students can see them but then other people start looking at them.’

Do Experienced Teachers Give Enough Back to the Profession?

May 21, 2012

Although I have not had this experience myself, I have heard many young teacher talk with exasperation about their experienced colleagues. These teachers, looking for mentorship, problem solving methods and simple direction and assurance from their older and more confident co-workers, have complained that they are often left to their own devices. They claim that experienced teachers tend to find a comfortable groove and are reluctant to do any more than absolutely necessary.

Whilst I realise that this characterisation of experienced teachers doesn’t reflect all who fall into that category, I wonder whether teacher burnout as well as the fact that experienced teachers have reached the peak both in status and salary, are contributing factors to this likely scenario. Since these teachers have devoted decades to what is a challenging and physically taxing profession, the job of mentoring a new teacher can often be too much of burden.

If this is correct, it is quite unfortunate. Our young teachers, in my opinion, are poorly trained. Our teacher training courses are high on useless theory and low on practical instruction. I have never met a teacher who considered Vygotsky’s theory of proximal development of greater use to their day-to-day teaching than the precious but fleeting weeks spent visiting schools as a pre-service teacher.

There clearly needs to be a greater incentive for experienced teachers to help new teachers settle into their role and adjust to the dramatic change from student-teacher to actual teacher.

Last year I formulated a two-tiered approach to making best use of experienced teachers:

1. Experienced teachers who are deemed to be excelling at a certain standard are offered a mentoring role for higher wages. If accepted to take on that role, these teachers would offer new teachers the chance to spend a few days in their classroom, let them observe their lessons, give them access to the their planning material and be someone out of that teacher’s school environment who can deliver advice and guidance via email and phone. This challenges the mentor teacher to strive in their new position as well as their underling.

2. For the second category of teacher, I recommend that newly retired teachers, who have left the profession with a wealth of knowledge and an eagerness to maintain links with the profession, be paid to mentor and assist teachers who have not been performing at the required benchmarks. Instead of firing teachers in the first instance, I propose that these teachers get the opportunity to improve with a greater deal of support and collaboration.


• Provides the opportunity for excellent teachers to be better paid;

• Allows retired teachers to maintain links with their profession and share their wealth of experience;

• Gives new teachers greater confidence and a non-judgemental mentor who they can approach; and

• Allows teachers currently not working at their premium a second chance that may reinvigorate and refresh them.

It’s Not Career Advice that 10 Year-Olds Need

July 21, 2011

Whilst Simon Hughes’ call for Primary schools to offer career advice has some basic merit, it deviates from the most important needs of a primary student.

Youngsters will be urged to start thinking about their careers from the age of ten under plans unveiled today by the Coalition’s education access czar.

Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrats’ deputy leader, wants primary schools to start giving career counselling to pupils.

Mr Hughes said: ‘It is never too early for people to start thinking about future careers and educational opportunities.

‘Children in their last year of primary school can be inspired, and can form their first clear impressions of the world of work and further study.’

Primary schools will have to host career advice sessions with industry experts  and parents to discuss what qualifications are needed.

He hopes the move will make youngsters start thinking about university before they even start secondary school. Mr Hughes said: ‘The message I have heard from young people around the country is clear.

‘We need better careers advice, starting early, and with parents as well as students given better information about going to university.

If you give students the encouragement and support to help them see where their qualities lie, what they are good at and how they can use those skills to contribute to a classroom, school and society you never need to worry about career advice.  The reason why so many students seem aimless and unsure of their future is because not enough time and energy has been put into their strengths and too much time tends to be focussed on their weaknesses.
By Grade 6 students seem to be aware of where they are academically, what they struggle to do well and how they are regarded by teachers and fellow students.  What they might not be aware of is that there is so much more than academics in the makeup of a person.  There is their personality, creativity, street smarts and leadership skills.  Teachers must understand the strengths of all their students and praise them accordingly.
A student who is aware of what they love to do, where their talents lie and how they can use those skills and traits to contribute to society never need worry about career advice.  Not at 10 years old anyway.

You Don’t Get Elite Teachers with Elitism

February 4, 2011

In my opinion, one of the biggest factors concerning the current failures of our educational system is the inadequate and substandard teacher training programs offered by our Universities.  Not just the minnow Universities but also the elite ones.

The idea proposed by Lord Adonis that every secondary school should have teachers who attended elite universities is not only unworkable but costly and simplistic.

Addressing the Independent Academies Association (IAA) conference in central London, Lord Adonis said: “You need a good mix of teachers, of course, at any successful school, but you cannot be a successful school unless you at least have a certain proportion of your teachers who have themselves come from leading universities in to which you intend to send your best students.”

Lord Adonis warned delegates it would not be possible to transform admissions to top universities “unless you can develop a cadre of teachers in your own schools that have that background themselves.”

I attended one of Australia’s elite Universities and I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that there was precious little that I was taught that was of value to me in the classroom.  From my experience the training of teachers needs an overhaul.  Teaching theory is all well and good but it needs to be complemented with proper practical instruction.  I’ve seen teachers who are more academic  and have sharper intellects than I do, who floundered in the classroom because sometimes all the knowledge in the world on the right and left brain and metacognition can’t help you get through to a hostile or challenging class.

My lecturers were mostly former teachers who left the classroom because they couldn’t manage anymore.  They were a fountain of knowledge when it came to theory, but clearly relieved to be out of the classroom.  Their pearls of wisdom included “Use them or lose them”, concerning the number of paid sick days available to teachers.  Sure, it can be seen as good advice to cash in on your paid sick leave, but it isn’t the positive and responsible message to be sending to future teachers.

Lord Adonis may be right.  Perhaps it is easier to get pupils, particularly those from poorer areas, into top universities when their teachers have studied at those institutions too.  But for my daughter, I am satisfied with a teacher that is caring, dedicated, and prepared to challenge educational norms by experimenting and taking responsible risks.

You don’t need an elite University to educate, prepare and nature an elite teacher.

Teacher Training Fails Us

November 25, 2010

It is my opinion, and I am certainly influenced by my own experience, that teachers are being let down by inadequate and highly pressured teacher training.  I believe that student teachers are not given enough exposure to practical teaching experiences and are left unprepared for the classroom upon entering the profession.

I remember how difficult it was for me to adjust to life as a teacher in the first year in particular.  On only a one-year contract, I felt I couldn’t approach colleagues for advice, because without their respect, I felt I wouldn’t earn a second contract.  Instead I had to work it out on my own, as quickly as possible, to restore the faith my school had in me when they employed me.

I found my University course high on pressure and theory, but low on substance and opportunities to observe teachers and teach classes.  I remember almost having to repeat a full year of the course because I failed an assignment for Sport.  I had to submit a series of lesson plans for Sport (not a discipline I have a passion for).  My lessons were very well-developed – except for one detail that awarded me an automatic fail.  In one of the lessons, I let the students pick the teams themselves.  Whilst I realise that I should have known better, I almost had to repeat the full year (regardless of how well I was doing in other subjects), because I failed that assignment.

That’s why I agree with the submission by Michael Grove in the UK, that plans to shift the focus of teacher training from universities to schools.

It says that “too little teacher training takes place on the job” and proposes the creation of a national network of “teaching schools” based on the model of teaching hospitals.

Mr Gove said that great teaching was a mix of academic and “emotional” intelligence, and working with children and exceptional teachers would enable trainees to grasp this fact.

So many teachers leave the profession because they found it too difficult in the early years.  Others quit during the training period because they are so worn out by assignments and hurdle requirements that have little resemblance to the realities of a classroom.

My advice to teachers in training is to hang tough, get back to the reason why you signed up for this wonderful profession and try to get through.

I feel a lot more confidant in the classroom now.  No thanks to my training though …

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