Hopes and dreams of the next generation

This week, last year's teaching graduates will face their students for the first time. Become Sir or Miss or get-down-to-the-kids'-level with a first name policy. Attempt to apply the school's bullying policy to the fight they discover on their lunchtime duty round. Grapple with the Zip in the staffroom. Deal with the parent who believes Samuel's bad behaviour can be excused by his unrecognised genius. 
All these shiny and new graduates entering the teaching profession. How long will it be before the phrase “you don’t understand cos you’ve not got your own kids” or “Wait til you have your own kids, it’ll make you a better teacher”.
Not so bad it they are from frustrated parents or a hacked grandmother whose left holding ‘the bag’. But if they are heard from the lips of your senior teacher it can be soul destroying. All of these new grads not just the ones mentioned in the article,  with dreams of impacting a generation. Well, let’s wish them well. More over let’s wish them a supportive senior teacher and motivated staff.

Helpful hints for new teachers:
  • Focus on your kids- They are your responsibility.
  • Prep your room- The enviroment is central to the tone of a classroom.
  • Get the routines running- If the kids know what they're doing when they'll be more settled.
  • Succeed at Reading and Maths - everything else is forgiveable.
  • Set the tone from the get go- You can always lighten up later but you start too friendly you'll never claw it back.

Biscuits the thin end of the heart condition wedge

41 per cent of [parents] surveyed still regularly include biscuits.
The data here is a little confusing based on the facty that parent put multiple items in their kid’s lunch.
It is important to maintain that parental choice is essential. Parental education on healthy choices for lunch needs to be emphasised. But teachers sliding this through the ‘back door’ by growling kids about what is in the lunchbox is counterproductive. The reality is that they have little if any say in the contents of their lunchbox.
This method undermines parental authority and has potential for discent in the home. Teachers expect our support with reinforcing school messages around socialisation and school structure, we should expect positive support with lunchbox choices. Besides the most encouraging research finding is that 88 per cent of Kiwi kids' lunchboxes contain a piece of fruit. So what’s the big deal?
Noone is asking the right question...
At what age did you kids poo stop sinking?

ECE options zero: Suck it up

Many childhood centres are already proposing fee hikes with the Early Childhood Education revenue cuts, announced in last year’s Government Budget becoming effective at the beginning of next week.
Many have risen there prices already, grabbing a few grand with the overlap. But that is far from lasting them any time at all.
But then what choice is there for us as parents. We’re in full time employment, can;t afford to give it up, our kid is settled and most if not all centres in our area are also raising costs. There is no other option than to ‘suck it up’.

Death of the Senior Management

Schools could experience a senior management shortage if star teachers continue to be poached by wealthy overseas countries and high workloads persist, teachers say.
Gone are the days when teaching is classified as a vocation over a career. Now is the time were career progression is not merely limited to curriculum co-ordinator>> senior teacher>> AP>>DP>> Principal. Now the options are beyond the classroom, the school. Even options extend into the private sector with training and HR posts. There are now many opportunities overseas too, especially for the most gifted and talented of teachers.
The position of a senior management role is becoming less and less desireable and income increases do not put more time into a 24 hour period. Who would want to run a school if you were offered a higher paid, less stressful position in sunnier climes.
This is the end of the road classroom career. Is this going to mean the end of quality senior management too?
So much of the Principal role is HR and budgets its crazy. They should forgo a DP role and employ a Business manager or Office Manager that can take those Admin tasks away and leave the Principal to LEAD the school.

Something just isn't adding up with New Zealand's child provision

 New Zealand’s education system rating as the best in the world.  Which is as I said in my OECD video at the beginning of the month.
But with our measure’s in the 20 ‘free’ hours for pre-schooler’s being slated by Child Poverty Action Group's Susan St John and only 82% of children under age six able to access free primary healthcare services there is still much to do for children. 
How can the NCEA qualification be being called into question if our education system is touted as the best in the world? 

Something is just not right here.
Answers on post to the usual address.

Tolley leads charge for choice and change

Battlelines appear to be drawn in preparation for an election year as Labour declares “Anne Tolley unfit to lead education sector” where as.. “ The New Zealand Young Nationals applaud the leadership of the Minister of Education, Anne Tolley for acknowledging the freedom of one of New Zealand’s top schools to choose an academic pathway in the interests of its students.”

But let’s consider where the nation might be at with this issue. It seems that if parents in particular, but the nation as a whole, is ‘pro-choice’ then the future looks good for National but if voters feel that too much time, energy and expense has gone into NCEA to ‘abandon’ the system then Labour's take on the situation is right.
It is all very well educationalists on both sides of the argument jumping up and down. It is the public perception that is crucial.Is this a nail in the NCEA coffin or an accurate temperature taking of public sentiment? Hence the poll. 
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What is an Eportfolio?

According to guidelines highlighted byHeyMilly they are an electronic records of  students progress and achievement.
Parental involvement is to be heightened as many of the systems have a parent/ student login for you to access your child’s information via the internet any time of day or night.
Communication with parents and transpancy in teaching should be paramount in a school’s mind and e-portfolios are a way of addressing this for parents. 
But e-portfolios for students, though talked about for a long time is still very much in its infancy and we as parents should take the opportunity to be active in discussion on this issue wit hour kid’s school. Successful implementation of e-portfolios in a school is contingent upon parental engagement so go in and ask.
If you’re kid is yet to start school, make a question you ask....”What e-portfolio system do you have and how can I, as a parent, access that information?”
If you send your kids back in a couple of weeks time ask the classteacher about the priority of e-portfolios this year and ask for information around the security and precautions the school takes to protect students as well as help them celebrate their achievements.

Parenting: Whose to say you're doing it right?

The Government wants 12,000 parents to have completed an ‘Incredible Years’ parenting course by 2014.
The number of parenting courses available in New Zealand is spiralling. There are a lot of agencies running a variety of programmes out there. It seems that the ‘middle class’ parents of New Zealand are hogging the funding and those that really need it are not being reached.
Now we have a new programme coming in; to be delivered by doctors and nurses. I’m am unclear as to how this is going to reach parents better than the myriad of other provisions. Whose job is it to tell parents they need to go on a course? How do we get that message to those that really need to? And how is ‘society’ supposed to impose some extrinsic motivation for attendance where intrinsic motivation is what is really needed.
The literature available for parents is massive. But are these meeting the right people? The most in need demographic?  I fear that oral traditions in these communities are breaking down and there is nothing to fill the void.
Is the answer another multi-million dollar ‘scary-ad’ campaign... Is this the only thing that gets though?

I liked Parents Inc / Toyota ads, getting a positive message into homes, but then I can;t even find a clip of one of these ads anywhere on the next...

'Just in Time' Learning is floored in the real world

Digital literacy is essential in the 21st Century workplace. Everyone needs some level of computer literacy and there needs to be provision for that. More over, people need to accept that they need to learn something new. Even though who consider themselves ‘computer literate’ need to realise that there is more to know, more to learn.
‘Just in time’ learning is touted as being the hip thing right now, many have said today’s students want to learn ‘just in time’ and not ‘just in case’. Which is all well and good when you’re in the educational environment, providing meaningful task but out in the ‘real world’ constantly interrupting a colleague to show you how to ‘glumdiate’ is not productive use of time as far as the employer goes and actually annoys the snot out the colleague.
People need to realise that upskilling takes time. Healthy, encouraging  environments need to be found. When the right environment (attitude as well as physical location) is found the study showed:
  • 95% of participants increased their digital information literacy
  • Workshops provided supportive environment where participants able to experiment and make mistakes
  • Participants helped each other out informally
  • Participants learned at their own pace
  • Participants more involved if skills acquired seen as relevant to workplaces or personal lives

Parental Leave: calls for more... please

We used to think 14 weeks, WOW! That’s great. But now that OZ has taken up 18 weeks we seem somehow cheated.
Discussion around the provision for children seems to be flip-flopping.

First we have something of an outcry that parental leave needs to be extended. Benefits and support to families beyond their youngest’s sixth birthday is well over due, presumably allowing parents to spend more time with their children and support them in their education. 
But wait... Paragraphs further down in the article refer to supporting children by extending ECE hours beyond the 20 free and even putting 2 years into centres if the family can’t cope.  
So what is best for the child seems to differ depending on the situation. This appears to be fair enough but let us not have that decision mocked if the parents make it and hailed as prophetic if the state decides. 
So returning to the original issue of 14 week paid parental leave...
If employees don’t like it because it’s not long enough and employers don’t like it because it’s too long I think we’ve reached equilibrium.

We are NOT Australia... btw

Comparing New Zealand with Australia in matters such as this is pushing things a little far. To begin their country, budgets, GDP, population, and climate are all vastly different.
It sometimes feels like we’re continuing to compare siblings; who learns to walk first, read first, sleep through the night, stay dry through the night. Who is more socially adept, intelligent, sporty. Who qualifies first, who earns more, has a nicer home, more polite off-spring.  Who retires first, whose living better in retirement. Whose headstone is larger. Who had the more people crying at the funeral. 

We are different. Individuals are different let alone countries on different latitudes. Surely the decisions we make over what is best for US should be based on US, what WE can afford, what WE see as priorities.

NCEA out Cambridge in....

The discussion of whose exam system is better is raising its ugly head again. How are parents to decide? How do they know which is best for their kid and their future. 

My parents talked of one going to tech college and the other off ‘The Grammar’. Are we to return to that? Is that really in the best interests of our children.
Regardless of the discussion on NewstalkZB NCEA still remains relatively unproven compared to the alternatives.  And with Auckland Grammar jumping ship then there is potential for an avalanche of schools. Should there be such an avalanche? So long as the driving force is parental choice I don’t see why not.
TVNZ Poll Cambridge Exams outstrips NCEA 2:1
Again it comes down to the old mantra that Parents need to be active in their child’s education. There is no one who knows their kid better. Parents need to get themselves informed. Work out how their kid learns and then make the best decision possible.
Useful Link:

Water Safety: The answer?

The issue of teaching our children to swim is a national problem and measures should be taken on every level to address it.
To ensure all kids are confident and COMPETENT in the water by the age of eight several policies need to be enacted to encourage and support access to PROPER swimming lessons.
  • All Mayors of all cities should ensure that access to pools and swimming facilities are free for all, encouraging parents to take their children.
  • Funding should to be found to encourage schools to hire pool facilities or formal swimming instructors.
  • Learn to Swim classes should be funded, or in the least subsidised for all 5-7 year olds.  Whether this directed through schools or available for parents to access extra-curricularly.
  • Grassroots funding for swimming clubs to heighten awareness and encourage youth participation.
  • Compulsory ‘Surf Life-saving ’ for Year 7 and 8 students. Directed as part of the ‘technology’ options at Intermediate.
It is essential that parents are given options rather than mandates. Parents need to know it their responsibility in the education of their children, especially in the are of ‘life-skills’.