Teaching Tuesday

I have a bee in my bonnet. And you see, when I get a bee in my bonnet, I tend to turn into Ranty McRantyPants. While watching the news yesterdayI heard about the governments new legislation to add a few more hoops to jump through for trainee teachers. They want to implement numeracy and literacy tests, aptitude tests, demonstrated values, written statements, community service…God knows what else, before they can graduate and become qualified teachers.

Don’t get me wrong. I think those things are all important, especially literacy. I think I told you the story about the enrolment letter we got from our 2nd choice of school for Nick. They sent home the enrolment package and the welcome letter was littered with spelling and grammar mistakes. In my opinion, that’s not even close to good enough for an educational institution. It had the teacher’s name on the bottom of it, but I like to think it wasn’t her that typed it up and her eyes never saw it. I believe kids (and teachers!) NEED to know the difference between you’re and your, and they need to NOT write “ur”. I believe they need to know the difference between their, they’re, there.

Source: cafepress.com via Ashley on Pinterest

In my eyes, teaching is up there with the most important but least respected professions. Along with police, firefighters and nurses, just to name a few. We put our children in the hands of teachers for 12+ years of their lives. We* expect them to teach them to read, to write, to count and do their times tables. We expect them to be firm but kind. We expect them to be fair. We expect them to put up with attitudes (from students and parents!). We expect them to do all this and more, for little to no thanks, for pittance for pay. And then we say, “Oh teachers have it easy, they work 6 hours a day and get great holidays!” Anyone who knows a teacher, knows that is a load of crap.

Source: chattease.com via Angela on Pinterest

One of the guests on Sunrise yesterday made a really great point. Years ago, before women could be lawyers, doctors, anything they wanted to be, they were mostly teachers, nurses or secretaries. That made for a lot of really great teachers. Now days all the top graduates want to do something that pays well. Something that is more “respected.” What does that mean? The less-smart (?) ones have no choice but to be teachers? I don’t necessarily believe that, but I do think more could be done to make teaching a more appealing option.

It takes a really special person to be a teacher. It must truly be a calling to follow that dream. They put their heart, their soul, their time (yes, more than 6 hours a day!) into teaching our kids, who are the leaders of the future. Yet they are blamed for poor grades and threatened to have their pay sacrificed by the results of their students in naplan tests. Naplan testing, don’t even get me started on that! Then you have the parents. The parents who don’t want their kids to be disciplined at school, which are usually the parents who don’t discipline at home, either and expect miracles to happen at school! I’ve worked with parents before, and while there are always wonderful ones, you only ever seem to have to deal with the pains in the asses.

What makes me angry about these new government legislations is that any idiot or puppet can be a politician. And those are the people who are putting more and more pressure on teachers. Who are they to sit in a fancy room and come up with policies that affects a profession I’m guessing most of them have never had anything to do with? Teachers have my utmost respect. And it’s important for me to teach Nicklas that teachers are to be respected, too.

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Have you been in a classroom lately? Have you seen what teachers have to deal with on a daily basis? Do you think there should be tougher requirements on teachers?

*By we I mean “I”. I’m sure we all expect different things from teachers.
Linking up with the lovely Jess for IBOT, naturally, because that’s what we do on Tuesdays!

School Fundraisers

We’ve just had our first school fundraiser come home. I’m trying to wrap my head around it. It’s not a lamington drive, or a car wash, or a bake sale. It’s tubs of cookie dough. Not just little tubs, either, no. It’s 1.3kg tubs of cookie dough, in 8 different flavours, selling for the low cost of $16/tub. The dough is freezable AND re-freezable! You can thaw it out and it will last up to 4 weeks in your fridge, or you can re-freeze it. It makes over 50 large cookies or 100 snack sized cookies.

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I’ve been trying to refrain from getting on my soapbox about this but I can’t help myself any more. I find it somewhat amusing and somewhat disgusting, that less than 2 months ago I was handed a bunch of paperwork that included a section on ensuring we are sending healthy lunch boxes to school for our kids. And here comes the first fundraiser – enough dough to make 100 cookies. I know it doesn’t have to all be made and eaten at once. But I wonder about the nutritional value of something that can be thawed out and last for up to 4 weeks. And as someone who has struggled with her weight for as long as she can remember, and is finally starting to win the war, I’m torn between having responsible food in my house, and helping the school raise money for more car parks. Maybe we can just make a donation, in lieu of cookies?

 So folks, parents, food-conscious lovelies, am I making a mountain out of a mole hill? Am I over reacting?
And while I’m at it, how many tubs would you like to buy? 


Phones and iPods In Schools

Without sounding like a cranky 80 year old, when *I* was in school, there was no such thing as a mobile phone! Yes, yes, back in the day when we walked to school, uphill both ways. In the snow. Barefoot.

Ok, the walking to school uphill in the snow part is crap, but there was no such thing as a mobile phone, iPods, Facebook and all the rest of today’s modern technology. I realise that society has to “move with the times” but I was recently shocked to learn that a friend’s son, who just started high school, was being distracted in class by several students listening to music on their phones/mp3 players during class time. The only thing more shocking was the Principal and Vice Principals reaction to my friend’s complaint.

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She was essentially told that school isn’t about education, it’s about learning to multi-task, learning to focus when there are distractions, learning to communicate and work through problems (hence all the in-class discussion). She was also told that children go home and do their homework with music in the background, so they are allowed to have the music in class, also. She was told that the kids use their phones as calculators, that parents do not like to buy their kids calculators because they have them on their phone. She was told that we are in 2013, and as such, she needed to “move with the times.”

Now, I’m not suggesting we should be back in the dark ages where kids got the cane for not sitting in their designated seat (true story – ask my mum!). I’m not even saying these items should be banned completely from school. I know iPads can be great for learning. I know that kids need to learn how to use social media, the benefits and the dangers of it and the social responsibility that comes with being so connected by it. But I think to allow them to listen to music during class time, to distract other kids who may not yet have the capability of focusing through such distractions, and to be able to be that disconnected from the teacher and classmates is quite frankly just taking the piss.

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To get some kind of perspective on this issue, my friend called two other local schools – one public, one private. Neither school allowed kids to have their phones in class for music or any other such purpose. The private school rules were they were to be kept in lockers. The public school allowed them in their bags, on silent, for emergencies only. Maybe I am old fashioned. Maybe I am over reacting, but I’ll be marking this on my list of things to enquire about when sending Nick to high school (even though that’s almost 8 years away – God by then they might not be going to school, maybe it will all be online?!?!).

And while I’m speaking of school, I’ll take a bit of a detour here to tell you what I found in Nick’s classroom today. The school has a fairly thorough discipline policy/procedure. So at the front of the classroom is a hanging sign that looks something like this:

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All the kids names are on a clothes peg, and are pegged onto the appropriate….level? I scanned for Nick’s name and there it was. Attached to the “Warning” sign.  As we left school, he told me it was because he broke a pencil. It’s unclear as to how he broke it, as he told me a couple of different stories. He told me it was an “accident” but he’s certainly been pushing the boundaries at home recently, it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s now trying to see how far he can push at school.

I sat through the rest of the parent/teacher meeting (not one-on-one, it was a group meeting) barely paying attention, because I was trying to think how I could approach this, with both Nick and the teacher. As a parent who stressed out over sending her son to school in the first place, today has done absolutely nothing for settling my concerns. Maybe he isn’t ready? Maybe he’s too young? Maybe it’s too much for him? Where did I go wrong? We’ve always tried to be stern/firm with him when it comes to discipline, but here he is, acting out? Or is the teacher picking on him? Does she already think he’s the problem child so that’s the label he’ll get for the whole year? All these questions and doubts swirling through my head are enough to drive me insane.

So my questions to you this week – what do you think about kids having phones in schools? And how do you think I should approach both Nick and his teacher about this discipline chart? Am I over reacting? 

And of course I’m linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT because you guys give the best advice around!