Archive for June, 2013

Starting out as a new teacher, you might well be asked to take on a Year 12 (or senior) class. On the basis that you have the necessary class skills in hand and know your curriculum, what might be the first fly in the ointment for your new teaching career?

English: A special education teacher assists o...

Teacher skills often extend beyond the class room (Photo credit: Wikipedia).

The chances are, you might well have a parent/teacher evening, or a set of reports to complete before the end of Term 1. Yet, as far as I can tell, most university training does not focus on either of these skills.
In my case, it was comparatively unremarkable. I was not quite 23 and the oldest student was already 18. Admittedly, it was nearly 20 years ago and the night went smoothly enough. Apart from the drunk parent and the couple going through an acrimonious divorce that played out before me. Nothing directed at me personally, but this isn’t really the issue. It was more the sense that I felt like I was winging it, on some sense of what was expected.
Talking to colleagues recently, it seems little has changed. I acknowledge that my survey is hardly extensive. However, it does take in experience from the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia, over the course of the last decade in particular. Even now, I have a prac student about to start an internship – no experience of parent/teacher nights or reports has been provided by the university. Perhaps fortuitously, she will be able to sit in on our scheduled night, and so will gain some experience before going live as a newly employed teacher, on her own.

With reports, it might be a little easier. The chance to look at a set of earlier reports from a colleague, or to have them looked over beforehand certainly exists. But why not take it back a step and look at what reporting ought to entail? A clear understanding of the student, certainly, but what beyond this? Results? Pedagogy? Curriculum goals? What is best avoided?

As for the parent/teacher interview, why not have a practice run, in addition to any school practicum that a trainee teacher might undertake. Having a number of scenario interviews, with unknown adults, provides scope for direction and reflection. Medical students undergo a variation of this in order to both direct their diagnostic skills and ‘bedside’ manner. Surely this is as pertinent in a

I recognise the need for universities to adapt to new teaching methodologies in light of the changing world of ICT. However, these basic skills seem to have been overlooked in the past and continue to do so in the present. Despite other developments, such as the changing realm of ICT, surely teachers will need to be able to write reports and meet with parents for the foreseeable future.

If you have seen programs where these skills are incorporated, I would love to hear about it.

Advertisements

Well, someone in the next day will be – it could be you and this post might well tip the scale over – currently my blog sits on a modest 1994 views (I know, distinctly small fry for many). I would love to be able to let you know if you were my 2000th viewer. Maybe if I’m vigilant, I’ll be able to tell the country that you’re from. If the first six viewers all ‘liked’ this post, I could tell that number six would be the one. Maybe I could even do a feature on the person receiving that milestone…

English: The Grand Prize for the winner of a g...

A good year thus far… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ironically, the one year anniversary of my writing – NOT my joining WordPress, which took place seven months before as part of a work ICT activity – is also coming up on June 25th. This was a post on students doing ‘TED Junior’ talks. It took me that time to work out what I was going to write about (and feel confident to press that ‘Publish’ button), one reflecting my work and ideas in Education, which, as you might expect, has also undergone some changes in that year.

Back to my title – how many times have you been the “999,999” visitor (or one millionth)? In thinking about this post, I reckon I’ve won about 50 of these things (and have of course, clicked on none of the cheery, cheesy banners when they’ve popped up). I even typed the phrase into Google and got all sorts of discussion about the possible scams and identity compromising consequences of clicking on these spots.

So anyway, to give you something in the same vein, here are some stats reflecting your relative chances of a number of events occurring – just to give you pause for thought. I’ve made them ‘Australia’ based, to reflect some of the idiosyncrasies of my country:

Chance of winning the big division prize in Lotto – 1 in 45 million

Chance of being killed by a shark –  1 in 292, 525 (chance of drowning at the Australian beach, by comparison, 1 in 3,362)

Chance of being struck by lightning – 1 in 1.6 million

Chance of dying in a car accident – 1 in 12, 500

Chance of winning anything by being the “Xth” person to visit a site – nil?

But, getting away from the darker side, it has been a great year thus far. I’ve learned so much and thank you all for popping by, whether this be a first time, or a return trip. Looking forward to even more in the coming twelve months. I’ll keep you posted on the 200th viewer… if I can 😉

You don’t need to like or dislike Arnold Schwarzenegger to appreciate this. I’m just using “Arnie” as a guide. You don’t even need to have seen Terminator (1 or 2) to understand my use of it as an example. If you’ve ever seen a film where there’s a high body count by closing credits, you’ll get the gist of the idea.

Arnold Schwarzenegger as T-800 (Madame Tussauds).

Arnold Schwarzenegger as T-800 (Madame Tussauds). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve had my movie ‘pitch’ for several years now. I’m blogging it here, because I can’t see myself ever making it (at this point, anyway). Basically it goes like this:

The screen is split in two. On the left side of the split, the audience quickly recognises Terminator (or other equivalent film) is playing. This film plays in its entirety.

On the right, the alternative film plays. In this instance, it might open with a policeman, sitting down having breakfast with his family. Subsequent scenes might show him doing relatively routine activities; dropping off his children at school, buying some take away coffee, doing paperwork. The actor playing this role should be relatively unknown and the reason why would become apparent in due course.

About half way through Terminator, the left and right screens would start to come to reflect one another. Thus the policeman seen doing run-of-the-mill activities (as I understand most policing is on a day-to-day basis) would come to have an interaction with Arnie. For these moments, the screen would show only the ‘original’ film. The policeman might die in the police station shootout, perhaps he is collateral in another scene where his car is crashed by Arnie’s truck – the more obscure it was, in many ways, the better. The audience will now recognise that the small time extra in the big budget film is actually the ‘star’ of the film that has been showing on the right hand side of the screen.

At this point, the screen would split once again. Terminator (or X) would continue on, as before, while the camera on the left would remain with the dead policeman. Over the course of the remaining film, the scenes would return to everyday life: his family receiving the news; their shock at his sudden demise; preparations and the subsequent funeral.

The point? Not much really – just to show, using an unorthodox method, how we overlook details and the casualty count (or take it for granted) when we watch an action movie. Just something a bit different. Hope you liked the idea.

It’s bound to happen one time or another in your life. You leave work for the holidays, not realising or forgetting that your stuff needed to be packed up, ready for the office to be renovated. It happened to a colleague of mine who was on long service leave, returning to discover that the proposed move date had been brought forward and 20 years worth of files, kept in a storage room, inadvertently being turfed out. Files gone forever.

English: Wooden File Cabinet with drawer open....

Filed away… forever? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the flip side, I recall a teacher who, having taught for over 30 years, had discovered the liberating power of throwing everything away… every three years. His rationale? Quite simply, to ensure that you keep reinvigorating yourself and, in the process, avoid becoming stale. Of course, the internet has probably gone some substantial way to overcoming ‘resource loss’. So much is available online that you can quickly locate resources that would previously have taken you ten times as long to source.
But, it was this observation, from the first colleague who had lost her files, that stimulated the question – What would you save if the internet were shrinking?

At my school, we have just opened up a wonderful new library – ironically, perhaps, with about two-thirds of the books from the former library. The rest (many never even borrowed) were sent to our charity schools or culled. Many of these books will never come back… on the basis that, if you want to read them, they are accessible online.

So, my brain stimulator to you:

Imagine that the internet were shrinking. Before the inevitable happens, you have the chance to save, from the cloud, those sites, pages or resources which would be the most critical, precious, personal or beautiful to you. To sharpen the task, what if there were only 5, or perhaps 10 ‘items’ that you could preserve.

For the purposes of this, I’m not looking for you to have to get all 10 – even being able to say the one or two that first leap to mind are of interest… Feel free to put your suggestions in the comments below.

Ironically, as the internet gets ever bigger, how successfully are we cataloguing all these experiences? All those sites that we once viewed and thought: Hmm, that looks pretty interesting. I’ll pop by some day and have another look… only to never do so? Maybe those filing cabinets, notebooks, photo albums and journals still have a place in our lives…