DON’T TAMPER WITH LITERACY AND NUMERACY INSTRUCTION
Listening, speaking reading and writing are essential communication skills. Use of technology often substitutes for live conversation. Texting and messaging have their place but ought not replace face-to-face speaking and listening. Correct sentence structure including the use of punctuation, word choice, intonation and clarity should be built into verbalisation. Children also need to clearly hear messages so they understand what has been said. Unclear speech and poor listening skills can develop from lack of practice and the substitution of keyboard communication. Reading from texts may be supplemented by electronic media but should never be supplanted by screen reading. Nothing beats books.
Keyboard skills and the ability to electronically produce written text adds to the student repertoire. This should never be at the expense of handwriting. Mastery of paper and pen communication is important, enabling the written word to be produced anywhere and at any time.
Technology supports education but in no way should it replace traditional literary and mathematical teaching and learning. Should that happen, students will be the losers.
IF IT’S ‘FREE’ IT’S BAD
Some say private education is good as parents have to pay to enrol their children. Public education is mediocre at best and best avoided because it is ‘free’. People tend to look down on free things.
LEARNING NEVER STOPS
From birth until death, education is an incremental and ongoing process. It never stops. Those who think they know it all do themselves a grave disservice because there are always new things to learn.
NEW AGE TECHNOLOGY CAN LIMIT LEARNING
So much about education has a “modern” and “new age” emphasis. A great deal of what happens educationally is driven by technology. Some believe that technology has supplanted the need for learning basics. Computers, iPads and other technologies have their place in supporting students. However, they should always be tools used to enhance assignment preparation and work requirements. If students rely on devices to provide spellchecking, grammatical correctness, accurate mathematical formulae and so on, they may meet learning requirements without understanding what they have done. This is especially the case when voiceover or on-screen directions advise students what to do next in reaching toward solutions and answers.
Cognitive understanding suffers when directed learning fails to provide pupils with the understanding of ‘why’ solutions and answers are correct. This reliance on technological assistance can start in primary school and extend all the way through to tertiary study. That takes away from students their ability to reason and think. Computers and iPads become a crutch on which they lean too heavily to help satisfy learning requirements. There can be nothing more dissatisfying for students, than not understanding solutions to questions that are solved by technology, rather than their own brain power.
KEEP STUDY REQUIREMENTS WITHIN PARAMETERS
Work life balance for all, including students, is important. Study, including homework, should not be so voluminous that is gives students little time for relaxing, reinvigorating and having fun.
As teachers and principals we need to work on catching students and staff doing something good so we can offer praise. Meaningful and sincere not shallow and trite compliments. Praise pays dividends.
STEADY STATE BEATS TRENDINESS
Curriculum priorities and teaching strategies are constantly changing. It is important to keep up with the times. Schools also need to offer predictability and steady state development to students.
PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS – THEIR NUMBER ONE CHALLENGE
From working with pre-service teachers, the issue of almost universal concern is that of classroom management and achieving as teachers in a context of dealing with respectful, motivated children.
PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS – THEIR NUMBER ONE CELEBRATION
From speaking with a lot of pre-service teachers, I believe the thing they celebrate most is being able to make a difference. They rejoice when children come to love learning and personal progress
OUR WORK SHOULD BE ENJOYABLE
From time to time print and online articles emphasise the importance of workplace satisfaction and happiness. Some even address the need for work places to be fun places. Humour, laughter and light-heartedness are promoted as having tension relieving capacity. Inherent within this is a suggestion that not everything we do will be perfect and errors will be made. We need to have the ability to reflect on our mistakes and learn from them about how to improve and do things more successfully. An element of this ‘sitting back’ is the ability to reflect seriously but also light-heartedly because there is often a funny side to outcomes.
There is a need for those who share workplaces to ‘give and take’. We should welcome the evaluation of our efforts by others and be prepared to offer feedback to them as colleagues. It is important for well-being that people within organisations are able to share with each other. This includes the both receiving and giving of advice and appreciation.
I really admire teachers and school staff members who have a deep, enduring and long term commitment to their roles as student educators and supporters.
Some use schools as trampolines – launching pads to greater glory. How wrong it is that some are selfishly motivated. I have nothing against upward mobility but if schools are ‘used’ by those who want to climb to the top regardless, those who get to the top may find a lack of respect held for them by those who were colleagues.
It is over-the-top naval gazing and ‘paralysis by analysis’ that has become the major preoccupation with systems. Accountability is rampart and trust in teachers and their judgement discounted.
I always remembered student and staff birthdays with letters to students and cakes for members of staff. These remembrances paid dividends. They confirmed my appreciation for staff and students.
PAUSE AND REFLECT
At the end of each week, we should mark time. We need to pause, reflect on the week that has been, consider what we have done well and give thought to tasks confronting us in the week ahead.