BE A ‘BOLD’ EDUCATOR

THOUGHTS FOR PRESERVICE AND BEGINNING TEACHERS (28)

One of the sad transitions that has occurred over the past forty years has been the gradual turn of student performance issues back onto teachers. It used to be that genuine (real) non-effort on the part of students became a concern shared by teachers with parents. Together then would exhort students toward greater engagement. These days, the minimal outcomes achieved by students with such dispositions is blamed back onto teachers in an almost sole fashion.

Teachers are hammered if children don’t achieve, notwithstanding the commitment of the child and the support of home. Teachers are handed few bouquets but are regularly clouted about their heads by figurative brickbats. Small wonder the joy of teaching is so short-lived and so full of dissolution for many classroom educators. So many graduate teachers don’t last more than five years before forsaking the profession.

School leaders need to be affirmative, forthright, bold and adventuresome. They ought not to be so worried about preserving our future that we are frightened to have counter opinions. They do not have to agree with everything offered by superordinates.

Leaders and teachers should contribute to educational debate in a living ‘two way’ transactional manner. They ought not be people who respond with ‘how high’ when told to jump. Often the command to leap comes from those who would not know and who have not been anywhere near schools for eons of time.

Educators need to participate in healthy and robust educational debate, not being weakly acquiescent to the opinions or demands of others.

SNIPPETS ABOUT EDUCATION (1)

For government to deny heritage listing for the old Darwin Primary School is to deny the genesis and discount the history of NT Education. That decision must be reversed for the sake of honouring students and staff who were pioneers and forerunners of what has since transpired.

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The CDU population study (NT News 1/7) confirms the government needs to do much more to encourage residents to stay in the Territory. Those leaving if disaffected will tell stories about their time up here which will hardly encourage others to think about moving to the NT. Double jeopardy.

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The CDU (NT News 29/6) is curtailing courses, cutting staff and boosting its Sydney annex for international students. How does that fit with the university’s plan to accomodate and school over 1,000 mostly international students in Darwin as part of the city expansion? I do not understand.

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There is far too much misuse of mobile phones happening in both primary and secondary school situations. Cyber bullying is part of the issue, ongoing distraction from learning another. Phones should not be allowed in classrooms and the Education Department should take system ownership of a phone ban policy.

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QUALITIES STUDENTS BRING TO SCHOOLS

THOUGHTS FOR PRE-SERVICE AND BEGINNING TEACHERS (27)

Over many years I came to appreciate two fine student qualities.

* One was the quality of imagination with which children and young people are imbued and blessed.

* The other was the simple, creative and often unique ways in which students tackled problems and arrived at solutions to issues.

These were qualities that added to the contribution and impact that was offered by students elected by their peers to representative councils.

When talking with students, I used to urge upon them the fact they ought to work hard to retain their qualities of imagination into their adult years. When imagination diminishes, problems often grow to take on quite significant proportions.

Similarly, my engagement with students was to urge upon them the fact they should always consider issues carefully but retain the personal confidence necessary too be significant problem solvers.

MISSION STATEMENT KEEPS ONE FOCUSSED

THOUGHTS FOR PRE-SERVICE AND BEGINNING TEACHERS (26)

My mission statement grew from a leadership program conducted by Dr Colin Moyle of Deakin University (Geelong, Victoria, Australia) in the early 1980’s. Dr Moyle in emphasising the importance of direction and surety of track through life challenged us each to develop a mission statement of 25 words or less. I gave this a lot of thought and developed the following:

To fulfil and be fulfilled in organisational mode – family, work, recreation;

To acquit my responsibilities with integrity;

To work with a smile in my heart.

This statement was and is at the base of all my emails and on the reverse of my business card. it has for me been a reminder, guidance and a focus.

Do others have statements of mission or purpose? I would strongly suggest that all educators consider developing a succinct but strong statement of mission or purpose

TWO KEY CONSIDERATIONS

THOUGHTS FOR PRE-SERVICE AND BEGINNING TEACHERS (25)

As a principal over time, it seemed to me two things (among others) were important.

1. It was of critical importance to separate the personal from the professional in terms of relationships. I feel it impossible to be a good boss or empathic leader if those one os leading are one’s personal ‘buddy’ friends and mates. Separation can enhance respect and make leadership easier.

My advice to all teachers is to consider the need for this professional/personal separation.

2. I felt it important to be a person who lead by doing and not by saying. Directing others without being prepared to go there oneself does little to enhance leadership. It is far more important to be respected than liked.

It is ‘doing’ not merely ‘saying’ that is so important and too often overlooked .

ARE CHILDREN LIKE GAS BOTTLES?

THOUGHTS FOR PRE-SERVICE AND BEGINNING TEACHERS (24)

Some years ago, a group of Assistant Principals visited a gas works in Darwin. Their guide said that there was similarity between his job and theirs. His job was to oversee the return of empty gas bottles, their filling and redistribution for use within the community.

He said teachers and school leaders had a similar task. They oversaw the arrival of new children starting school. Children as ‘new starters’ were like empty gas cylinders who had to be filled with knowledge and understanding as they progressed up the grades and through the years. They would leave school ‘full’ of knowledge and go forth to serve the community was his proposition.

That analogy gave me much food for thought.

What do you think of such an analogy? Does NAPLAN feed the gas bottle metaphor?

TECHNOLOGY NOT A TEACHING SUBSTITUTE

THOUGHTS FOR PRE-SERVICE AND BEGINNING TEACHERS (23)

It is important that technology in classrooms and schools should be appreciated. It is important that teachers and students share teaching and learning opportunities, where these are enhanced by the use of technology and equipment available. However, technological tools should never be allowed to stand in the place of the teacher.

It can be all too easy for teachers to recycle from direct interface with students, preferring instead to establish communications with learners through

software packages available to support learning.

Using attachments like blackboard, Skype, Scootle, and a myriad of other learning aids can help when it comes to refining and extending student learning. These devices must be under the control of teachers and structured in the way they are used to support student learning. It can be all too easy for teachers to hand pass their role in student learning development to the point of becoming detached from the students they are teaching.