Some of the world’s finest teachers

17 08 2010

Part of our requirements to achieve successful teacher registration and qualification is to complete a professional learning profile, which must include a log of professional development activities.

This might include current or previous jobs, research, volunteer work, PD sessions, or even trawling through youtube and

So for those of you who might need something to add to those personal development logs, or just gain a clue in the classroom watch these global experts at work.

Embedded videos below the fold.

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I am not your friend

13 11 2009

One of the best farewells that was written on my end-of-prac card was “you r now mi friend”. I had told this student earlier that day when he was not cooperating that today was the last day he had to make me his friend.

But is it okay to be friends with students? Particularly where everyone’s friends are now, Facebook.

During my last week, Education Queensland updated their code of conduct for employees to clearly stipulate that teachers “must not use internet social networks such as Face Book, My Space or YouTube to contact or access present students enrolled in any school or institute” and “If you use internet social networks in your personal time you must ensure that the content is appropriate and private, and that you restrict access to specific people who are not students” (Section 2.2.2 (b) Interactions with Students).

Teachers (along with probably everybody else) have been needing to be increasingly careful about what sort of material they make available online (for example). Thankfully a lot of social media websites have been updating features to make it easier to control how you are viewed online. At the start of previous school year Facebook blogged specifically to teachers about the benefits of making friends lists to control what is viewable by “students” (or non-teachers may like to create a similar group for “Uncles, Aunts and Grandparents”).

The private education sector in Queensland has yet to install a blanket ban on social media interactions with students (and last I heard they were not intending to go that far, but were considering available options). While I understand where EQ is coming from on this, it is a bit disappointing that there appears no room for leeway or principal-appointed exemptions (which are included on clauses regarding camera usage and other points). This means a whole range of Web 2.0 based activities and learning environments (Second Life, class blogging) are excluded from Queensland state school classrooms at all age levels (and I think it may also apply to TAFE classes too).

The Queensland Curriculum embraces technology on most levels, to me it just seems disappointing that it is not being flexible on this one. Perhaps their strategy is to ban it while they work out a more appropriate strategy to monitor student-teacher interactions on the world-wide-web.

No, really? Teachers use sarcasm in staff meetings

12 08 2009

via the AiR some time ago

This is an interesting academic paper (draft?) investigating the use of sarcasm, relying on conversations taped at school leadership team meetings. It is not a surprise that teachers (or anyone, really) use sarcasm (I was actually watching UK series Teachers, when I was reading throgh this) – this was just the setting that served a more sociological investigation into what sarcasm is and how do people use it. Something the authors say isn’t studied enough.

The author defines sarcasm as “ a witty or ironic remark used to evoke laughter, tease, challenge, or criticize.” He then subdivides each episode of sarcasm into these different categories. The number in brackets is the number of times such a usage was identified during the taped meetings.

Joke (20) Sarcasm in which one or more individuals make others laugh without targeting another individual.

Tease (11) Sarcasm in which one or more individuals playfully mock another individual.

Criticize (21)Sarcasm in which one or more individuals criticize another individual (either present or absent), program, or event.

Challenge (5) Sarcasm in which one or more individuals challenge another individual’s statement.

Other (4) Episodes identified as sarcasm that fit neither the above categories nor a single new category.

Going by modes you could say that the main uses of sarcasm amongst school staff are to make jokes and criticise. Joking is all well and good, but criticism sounds a little negative. You could further merge the tease, criticize and challenge categories into a “hostile” category, in which sarcasm is used to confront another individual, or bring down a program or event. That makes “negative” use of sarcasm far more prevalent than joking.

I’m putting negative in inverted commas, because the authors make some attempt to suggest that sarcasm is a tool used to make the confrontation less hostile. The point against the other party is still made, but it avoids a big kerfuffle. Such as an example when a remark is made about a teacher arriving late for the meeting and grabbing a muffin. The sarcastic comment lets everyone know that lateness is being watched for, but keeps the mood light.

The researchers only investigated dialogue that occurred between staff at the school. Do people vary in their use of sarcasm when with friends rather than co-workers? Or, more importantly in the educational setting, how about when dealing with students? Not only can poor use of sarcasm damage rapport building, but bad habits of teachers would surely rub off on students.

Today is special

20 07 2009

Today was the first day of classes for my Graduate Diploma.

It only consisted of a lecture and tutorial for our field studies unit – but for some reason QUT has two hour lectures. Not that I am complaining or anything. At least one good thing you can expect from the education faculty is that the lecturers know how to teach.

Today was included some discussion on teaching/learning, as well as what exactly this “Middle Years” thing that I signed up for was actually about. There was also fruitful discussion on creating and developing our personal teaching philosophy – which in addition to our performance on pracs will form a major part of our assessment for this unit. In reflection, perhaps I should work towards obtaining the required texts for classes, they may actually be useful (then again everything does seem to be downloadable from the Blackboard site).

Some statistical information that came out of today included (note: some of these were dated 1998 and 2000*):

  • 1 in 5 school students in Australia are affected by poverty
  • 1 in 4 school students come from a culturally diverse background
  • 83% of school students with a disability attend a regular school
  • 18% of school students have a parent with a disability
  • less than 40% of ATSI (Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander) children finish high school at a year 12 level
  • roughly 30% of pre-service teachers are “career switchers”
  • $21 million is spent on stress leave for Australia’s teachers each year

The last one was perhaps not the most encouraging thing to hear on our first day (but I guess at least it’s not $22 million, and remember these are only Aussie dollars, they quite literally give them away).

Image credit: Exploding dog

*They were also scrawled hurriedly in my notepad so may be less than acccurate

No teacher left behind

1 03 2009

If your teacher doesn’t know any better, how can we expect you?

How your body works is no longer a mystery. Babies are not tiny miracles. And “Better Living Through Chemistry” does not mean what they think it does…

While not quite so abrupt as that, this press release from the University of Colorado makes a point – increasing scientific literacy is the primary method by which we can protect future generations from becoming victims of pseudoscientific mumbo-jumbo jargon overload. This will not happen without similarily increasing the scientific literacy of teachers in topics such as basic biology, biochemistry and genetics.