Monday, April 10, 2006

ABC easy as !@#

Today I got laughed at because:

"hahaha you have paint in your hair. hahahahaHAHAHAHAH!!!!"

Yeah, I also have a green watery blob of paint on my suede shoes. Double points for me.

I'm supposed to be going out for a birthday dinner tonight. I'm going to look absolutely SMASHING!

Whose great idea was it to "paint like Monet" with 5 year olds? WHO IS RESPONSIBLE? oh yeah, that would be ME the ART TEACHER. Let me tell you, Monet would shoot himself in the face if he saw this shit. By the end of the day I didn't actually care what the "calm waters" looked like I was just trying to keep my head above (painty) water. The first session is always a breeze but in between you have to get the brushes clean, new water, new paints and dry newspaper on the tables, all the preps cleaned, smocks away and the pictures on the rack to dry. This is not so easy when you have 23 little bodies who all need you at once, whining for you. To top it all off Vice Prin was in taking digital footage of the whole fiasco! Can't wait to see that one. I actually had to nick off down to the shops to buy some Freddo Frogs and Caramello Koalas it's was just *that* bad.

I was just looking at the paintings now. Oh boy, what a laugh riot. They are absolutely terrible. The other art teacher used to "lose" some of the paintings, or whole lessons in the bin. I don't know if I could do that. As a parent would you care if a piece of shit painting came home from school? I think I would be delighted to get anything home from my kid. As a teacher, however my standards are a tad higher than scribbling with paintbrush. Oh well. I hope they look better when we put our sailboats on them.

I think I've mentioned about how Victorian schools are changing the curriculum document this year. We're also changing our reporting format to make it more "user friendly to parents". It's well known that parents want teachers to cut the crap. Basically we're being too politically correct. If their child is shit they want to know about it. They don't want to be told in a positively slanted way. I think this is the biggest load I've ever heard because 70% of parents will go into a rage if you say anything remotely negative about their child. I wish we'd work together more and they'd realise how hard we work because we *want* their children to succeed! Anyway, I'm all for user friendly - especially if it means that if parents understand the format then they won't start badgering teachers every two mintues about what it means.

The articles in the paper about the new report format is that it's "like what we used to have when we were in school". I don't know about you, but in primary school I had a card and down the bottom it said things like.

maths: good.
english: very good.
general studies: good.

comments: Marianne is a lovely girl who gets on with her work in class.

whereby all "scores" were written in with blue pen.

Things are rather different now with a whole booklet going home with detailed analysis of scores/and comments for every single aspect of the curriculum. This was apparently too overwhealming and clouded in teacher jargon. I don't doubt it.

When I got to high school the marks were a little more detailed.
A: 80% +
B: 75-80%
C: 60 - 75%

or something similar..

I guess most parents now would remember this kind of format.

We're going back to this format now. A report card with the A-E ranking. Okay, fine parents want to be able to relate their child's progress with what they used to do when they went to school.

The thing that the government is not telling parents is that the A-E ranking is not actually ranked by percentage scores like that anymore.

Back in the day if you got a C it meant that you only had about 60% knowledge of a certain subject area ie: you were a dud and had a fuck load of work to do. Now if you get a C it means that you have achieved 80-100% (ie: an A) subject knowledge for your grade ie: you are working at your level. You're not a dud - you are consistent with the average scores for your age group. If you get a B it means that you are working one year above your age group. If you get an A you are working 18months ahead of your age group. If you get a D you're a year behind etc etc.

Do you think that parents are going to understand that when their child comes home with a C (around 70-80% of all children in any given class) it means they are absolutely *fine* and that there is no need to work harder, no need to take remedial classes, no need to panic, because C means you're the best you can be at your age? I can tell you now, from what I know already that this ain't going to happen. Guess who is going to cop it?

A lot of teachers I know aren't too happy with the new reporting format that is coming in. Not because of parent reaction to a percieved "drop" in score but because if you are a child and you are working at one year behind your age group - it is very unlikely that you will catch up. So, Little Johnny in grade 2, who is working at a grade 1 level in some areas is going to make many gains in his year in grade 2. He will learn lots of new things, achieve many goals and become a better learner BUT this will not be reflected on the report card - because while he has made 1 year gain - so has the rest of his grade. So when Johnny goes up to grade 3, he might be working at a grade 2 level - he's made a big leap - but he's still a year behind. His mark is still a D.

Can you imagine how detrimental this will be to a child's development? Believe it or not, teachers want children to be happy and have high self esteem. I know that my heart breaks when a child says that s/he thinks he can't do it because s/he's too dumb. :( I hate that. Now, Mr D child is always going to be a D, because being a year behind actually means you will have to catch up TWO years worth of work in order to be labelled "average". This is extremely hard to do for anyone. Not saying it can't be done - if it happens it's because the child just "clicks" with something and flys ahead.

Now you may ask - well if a child is one year behind, why doesn't he repeat a year? Well, yes - why doesn't he? The reason why is that in Victoria parents have the final say over whether their child repeats a grade. So while a teacher may recommend a child to stay down, it doesn't mean they will. It goes to the parent and then the parent decides what is best. So, professionally - we don't even have any clout. I wonder why we are not treated as professionals then? hmmmm Also, being a year behind developmentally in Maths doesn't make you a year behind developmentally in English or whatever else is on offer. Why keep a child down because they're crap at maths? I'd probably still be in grade 3 myself if that was the case.

The other thing that teachers aren't too happy with is the general score we give.

Maths: c. That's it. Child is working at level.

Right now we have a system in place where
Maths is an umbrella term for a few subject areas.
Number, space, shape, measurement, reasoning and strategies.

All these subject areas are graded individually and then an overall score is given. Of course number is weighted more heavily than all the others. But I have seen some children who are below average in number but TWO YEARS AHEAD in space. As a parent and a child it's important to be able to see that while little JOhnny can't actually count properly at least he knows how to put shapes together to make new shapes or can use rulers properly (wow, he could be a top architect!). It's important to know that you are good at specific things. Now while we will still be testing for these things and judging them individually in the classroom, on the new report card this will not be shown. It will be one overall mark that won't really give any kind of indication that little Johnny is good at something specific.

I'm just worried that we're going for the "easy to understand report card" and sacrificing ...well, the children.