About pooroldhenry

BRIEF CV I was a long term territory educator, commencing my teaching career in WA in 1970. We came to the NT in July 1975 and worked in remote, town then urban communities. My tenure in the NT was at Numbulwar School (1975- 1978), Angurugu Community School on Groote Eylandt (1979-1982), Nhulunbuy Primary School (1983-1986), then Karama School (1987-1991) and lastly Leanyer School (1992 until retiring in January 2012). I filled the position of school principal from 1977 until my retirement. My major focus on and belief in education is that it develop children and students holistically, preparing them for the whole of life.Educational partnerships involving staff, students, community and department have always been important. I am a Fellow of the Council of Education Leaders, a Life Member of the Association of School Education Leaders and was awarded the Commonwealth Centenary Medal for contribution to education. I hold a number of degrees and remain actively interested in and contributive to education. A highlight of my 'recent' life has been contributing to teacher education at the Charles Darwin University, along with occasional relief teaching in schools. A recent addition has been my writing of a weekly column about educational matters for the Darwin/Palmerston /Litchfield 'Suns' Newspapers.

Edited version published in NT Suns on August 22 2017

 

ABSENCE MAY BE UNAVOIDABLE

 

The issue of school attendance in both remote and urban school situations is one continuing to attract attention. That has been so for the past 40 years. Solutions are proposed but often not followed up by authorities.

In 2009 the enrolment of school age children became compulsory. However, there are still many school aged children in the Territory who have never been enrolled.

For children in urban schools, absence for a host of reasons occurs during term time . A major factor is that of families taking holidays during school terms when airfares and accomodation are cheaper. Attendance can be a problem for all schools.

Lead from the front

Principals, school leadership teams and school councils need to be proactive when dealing with attendance issues. One strategy that works, is to encourage students on term time holidays, to develop a travelogue covering their experiences. This helps reinforce the learning children do while on family travels. Using media (photos and videos) to embellish adventures, adds to the written word. Trip diaries can be shared with classes and may even attract commendation and awards from classroom teachers and principals.

With a little imagination and by recognising travel as providing learning opportunities, these times away from school can become significant learning journeys for children.

While some parents request holiday assignments and worksheets, these are often not completed. That does not justify the time and effort taken by staff setting up these individual programs.

More than legislation needed

Legislating to solve attendance problems can be pretentious. The Tasmanian Government has decreed that from the beginning of 2018, no family holidays during term time will be allowed. Families will be liable for penalties of up to $2000 if they fail to follow this attendance directive.

Tasmania could have learned from the NT. We have legislation about school attendance, but when tested in court it has had very limited success. Further, the many steps that have to be actioned prior to any court hearing, are both lengthy and onerous.

There needs to be some follow up for all students on this issue, including recognition of children with outstanding attendance records. Mention in school newsletters and the presentation of merit certificates are two ways of acknowledging conscientious attenders. However, absences which result from family circumstances ought not be punitively treated. Encouraging children toward educational enrichment through their travels is a better option.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

200th ANNIVERSARY!

WRITING FOR THE SUNS

A little over four years ago, I was invited to write a weekly education column for the Suns, a community newspaper published each Tuesday as an insert in the Northern Territory News.

The Suns has gone through a number of changes over time, and I am outlining distribution as it happens in 2017. The Suns is also published as a stand alone paper which people can pick up for free.

Along with other NT News products it is also available online.

This week was my 200th column for the Suns, my first being published on July 2, 2013. I have enjoyed developing the column and can confirm that educational topics are never-ending.

My columns are necessarily edited for inclusion in the paper. Unedited versions are published on my blog at
https://lnkd.in/gse2g-g

I have enjoyed giving back and giving to the community through my column. Many people comment to me and generally in terms of appreciation. It is a nice and personally rewarding way of engaging with the community in a volunteer context.

And I wanted to share my 200th celebration on my blog.

Regards.

Henry Gray

NAPLAN DETRACTS FROM EDUCATION

An edited version of vthis paper was published in the NT Suns on August 15, 2017  

 

NAPLAN DETRACTS FROM EDUCATION

NAPLAN outcomes and results are again in the spotlight. Media is involved in reporting and commentating on state, territory and overall Australian results. As usual, the NT is shown as being on the bottom rung of the performance ladder.

School Educators in the NT are made to spend far too much time dealing with the issues of NAPLAN preparation and fallout. Preparation for the May tests in reading, writing and mathematics is on from the first day of every school year. While the key focus is on children in years three, five, seven and nine, whole schools and their communities are affected by preparation for NAPLAN as the number one priority on Australia’s educational calendar. It seems at times that little else matters.

There is a lot more to student development than these tests, yet NAPLAN envelopes the annual educational calendar. System leaders talk of the importance of teaching methodologies and strategies that lead to enhanced student results and data improvement in tested fields. The agendas of staff meetings in many schools are dominated by a preoccupation with data outcomes. Meetings of principals and school leaders have, for many years, had the issues of NAPLAN and data very high on discussion agendas.

After ten years and the expenditure of billions of dollars on NAPLAN, very little has changed. In terms of comparison with the rest of the world, Australian student performance is at best, mediocre to poor. A few schools here and there celebrate. Most of these are in green belts that boast community stability and family affluence.

Comparasion specialists seem to get a great deal of satisfaction from pointing the finger at the NT because of our coverall results that place us last on any comparative table. This negative approach goes all the way back to the ‘seas of red’ (school underperformance) that used to attract a double page spread in the NT News.

Few people ever stop to think about how students feel about this testing regime. Without doubt, children are pressured by constant talk of testing, particularly when so much of the conversation is about negative outcomes. They must also become both frustrated and bored by the constant practice commencing many months prior to May’s testing week.

There should be much, much more to education than an annual reporting regime, magnified beyond its real worth.

 

SPEECH AND SPEAKING TIPS 44 – 45

Tip 44

SELF STUDY AND IMPROVE (‘Traits’)

I am a member of Toastmasters. Many years ago, a fellow member of our club offered to video several of us presenting speeches for evaluation. Part of the evaluation was a study of the video he took as we presented.

I thought I’d made a fair fist of my speech. When the video of my presentation was played back, I discovered (along with everyone else) a number of ‘anomalies’:

* I overly shuffled and the movement was out of sync with and detracting from my presentation.
* I scratched my posterior on two occasions.
* I once picked at my nose.
* Several times my eye movements were out of context in not supporting my trying to reach the audience through eye contact.

Without the video revelation, I would have been unaware of these unconscious actions.

These days, videoing on mobile if using an iPad makes the whole process simple. My suggestion is that readers consider having someone video presentation for the sake of weakness awareness as a precursor to improvement.
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Tip 45

OFFER TO IMPROVE OTHERS (Presentation skills)

A true collegiate support for presenters, can be the clear and unbiased feedback offered to them by a colleague or professional friend. Offering to evaluate might be a tactic; similarly, the presenter may ask a colleague to evaluate his or her presentation.

Oral feedback is valuable and is aided if supported by written comments. These might be key points, with both methods aiming to offer the presenter a chance to improve delivery. Part of this should be recognising strengths (offered as commendations) and commenting on arenas needing development (offered as recommendations).

Reflection is supported by evaluation

MONEY MANAGEMENT CONSUMES SCHOOL LEADERS

Published in edited form in NT Suns on August 8 2017.

MONEY MANAGEMENT CONSUMES SCHOOL LEADERS

From time to time, what appear to be mixed messages about money and its availability to schools gains traction in the media. People might be forgiven for believing that the matter of money for education means that all aspects of school programs are covered and money management is not as issue.

That is far from being the case. While global budgets gave principals and school councils greater autonomy in the way money was spent, there are obligations that mean care has to be taken with expenditure. Utility costs (power and water) and contractual needs ( cleaning and grounds maintenance) have to be met. Checks and balances have to be in place to ensure that money is on hand to meet these periodic accounts.

Without careful planning and awareness, school budgets can be prematurely drained. Allocations are received twice each year, with income having to meet accounts to be presented in the following months. Detailed planning is necessary because cost accountability is each school’s responsibility.

Global school budgets were implemented in Northern Territory Government schools in 2015 to reduce red tape and provide schools with increased autonomy. The Education Department identifies three benefits for schools.

“• increased flexibility and autonomy in decision making
• a clearer financial framework for use in planning
• greater certainty and visibility of the overall resources available to the school including staffing.” (Department of Education website)

School budgets are based on student needs. School location and the specific
needs of each child are taken into account. The following factors help determine the amount
received by each school.

• year level of students
• Indigenous status
• socio-economic status and community affluence.
• remoteness of the school.

The system aims at being fair and simple, but there are issues.

Staffing is one of the main problem areas. The salary allocation for each school is fixed, but pay rates and entitlements for teachers and support staff are variable. More experienced staff command higher salaries than those who are in their initial years of service. In order to save on salaries and spread staffing dollars, school councils may consider replacing experienced teachers with those beginning their teaching journey. While employment for permanent teachers can be guaranteed, those on contract do not have similar security of tenure.

Making sure there is sufficient money to meet every need is a challenge. Principals can become so busy with administration, they don’t have time to be the educational leaders they aim to be.

 
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SPEECH AND SPEAKING TIPS 42 – 43

Tip 42

STUDY OTHERS AND IMPROVE (Eyes)

When watching television presenters and guests, consider the part their eyes and eye movement play in focussing you on their messages. Eyes can be manipulated and controlled to show happiness, joy, concern, grief, decisiveness, hesitation and a heal of in-between moods.

Consider that when we are talking with others, be that on a one-to-one basis all the way through to major audiences, our eyes help tell the story. Watchers and audience members remember eyes. They are organs of message reinforcement. Keep them attentive and make them live in support of you as a communicator.
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Tip 43

STUDY OTHERS AND IMPROVE (Gesture)

Those presenting on or for television should not undervalue gesture. Movement of arms, hands, head, neck and other parts of the body can help by giving particular emphasis to what speakers, be they presenters, questioners or respondents, are saying.

Without gesture, those appearing on our screens can appear to be almost un-alive and inanimate. Too much gesture, be it pacing, flapping of the arms, overuse of the forearms, hands and fingers in making points, can be distracting.

We can all learn from what we see. We also learn about what to do, by becoming aware of what not to do, by seeing the ‘dont’s’ in others.
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SPEECH AND SPEAKING TIPS 40 – 41

Tip 40

HIGH AND MIGHTY

There are far too many presenters who are quietly regarded as ‘know-alls’ – and not in a particularly complimentary manner. They may well be very knowledgeable in their fields. However, if they present to their audience in a ‘high and mighty’ manner, then the respect that might be theirs for a more wholesome and humble presentation will be lost.

The MANNER in which a presenter relates to his or her audience is of absolute and paramount importance.
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Tip 41

Note: The next few snippets are offered from the position of listening to presenters on radio or viewing them on television. There are of course parallels to be observed and appreciated in a live audience context.

STUDY OTHERS AND IMPROVE (Voice)

When watching television or listening to the radio, listen intently to what is said and how the presenter comes across on the screen. Consider his or her speech from the viewpoints of pitch, rhythm, tone and intonation. Does the voice catch on and engaged you or is style a bit of a turn off. The way in which vocal qualities engage (or disengage) listeners is every so important.

Think about what you are hearing and make mental notes about the example this presenter or speaker is offering. To study others can help in reflecting upon the need for personal awareness and self improvement.

More to come in the next few days.
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