by Martin Thrupp
This week I went with my son to his parent-teacher interviews. As a Year 13 student, one of the oldest at the school now, he didn’t really want me there anymore. But I insisted because it wasn’t all about him.
I was mainly there to thank the teachers at his state secondary school and I sought out the principal and thanked that person too. This school has taught two of my children, very different sorts of kids, and done it well. Sincerely thanking the teachers was the least I could do.
I hear the frustrations of Anela Pritchard, the Year 10 student who wrote a hard-hitting speech about teachers and then posted it on Facebook. But many of her points can be related back to the policy environment that teachers are having to grapple with.
Teachers are certainly ‘paid to teach’ and like many professionals they have mortgages to pay. But this doesn’t really capture their motives or commitments. In fact getting an education is not at all like buying groceries. There’s a relationship that has to be invested in by all concerned. Nor are the gains made always immediately obvious.
Many recent criticisms of teachers and schools seem intended to undermine the education system. They are often related to the privatisation agenda that has become obvious under this Government.
Look at the way Minister of Education Hekia Parata chose to launch a recent report criticising the teaching of school mathematics. It was published by the right-wing think-tank ‘The New Zealand Initiative’. On the other hand she quickly dismissed my research on the National Standards on the grounds it had been funded by the NZEI. Any contradiction here Minister?
There have also been complaints that the NZEI and PPTA have hijacked the Government’s ‘Investing in Educational Success’ reform. This implies that teachers are being misled by their unions. But the distinction doesn’t hold up. Most teachers are union members and those I meet at union events tend to be much like the people I meet in schools wherever I go.
Although it would be nice to think that the public would defend their teachers, many don’t have the time or inclination to dig deeper than the rhetoric of policy. It can be easy to criticise teachers – we have all had some – but teachers can’t be expected to address all of society’s problems.
There is a very real risk that too much public criticism will end up killing off the goodwill and commitment within the system and of those thinking of going teaching. If teacher supply becomes a problem we will soon see the sting go out of the comments!
Without the mainly good work being done daily in our public education system, many more New Zealand children and families would face educational and social difficulties. There are always improvements that can be made but we will achieve much more with honey than with vinegar.
I thought the teachers at my son’s school looked tired. This winter term has been a long one. I hope all teachers and their students have a good holiday.
~ Martin Thrupp is Professor of Education at the University of Waikato
Celebrating great teachers on World Teachers’ Day and every day.
Here at SOSNZ we love to celebrate teachers every day, but if UNESCO are going to give us a special day worldwide then we’re all for that, too!
To celebrate the great teachers in New Zealand and worldwide, SOSNZ is encouraging people to take and send in “Thank You #teacher” selfies like these:
Please send your selfies to me (Dianne) at SOSNZmail@gmail.com or message them to me on the Facebook page.
I will add your selfies to the World Teacher Day album on Facebook and share some on here and Twitter on Sunday.
For people who want a basic poster to write on, I’ve done a basic pdf to print off and use, which is here World Teachers’ Day Thank you proforma
Let’s tell teachers everywhere that we appreciate all they do.
Here’s a bit about the Day, from UNESCO’s web page:
“World Teachers’ Day held annually on 5 October is a UNESCO initiative, a day devoted to appreciating, assessing, and improving the educators of the world. The real point is to provide a time to look at and address issues pertaining to teachers. Strangely one of the most central, vital professionals to society does not receive the respect it deserves in some parts of the world.”
“Everyone can help by celebrating the profession, by generating awareness about teacher issues, by ensuring that teacher respect is part of the natural order of things. Take the opportunity of the day to discuss, compare, learn, argue, share and improve.”
“Partners all over the world celebrate and organize events for WTD, you can contact UNESCO (firstname.lastname@example.org) to find out who may be organizing an event near you or organize your own local event next World Teachers’ Day 5 October.”
Now go take that selfie and send it in!
More and more people are telling their schools they do not want to know their child’s National Standards levels.
This one is the latest:
We are incredibly pleased with xxxxxxx School and the excellent work done to settle our boy, xxxxx, and others into Year 1. We are thrilled with the work [his teacher] does in room xxx and the effect her teaching has on xxxxx’s learning and behaviour. We are kept very well informed of xxxxx’s achievements and goals, which helps us to support and reinforce his learning. Information we share regarding key competencies also helps us all focus together developing skills such as teamwork, application, risk-taking, creativity and personal control. We honestly could not wish for more or speak more highly of xxxxx’s experience or of [his teacher].
However, we do have one looming issue, and that is National Standards. We do not support National Standards. We do not see the benefit of comparing any child’s learning with others or against an arbitrary benchmark that has little to no merit. We know, moreover, that National Standards have the potential to do harm in many ways. Therefore, we do not wish for any of xxxxx’s National Standards information to be passed to us or to xxxxx in any way whatsoever, in writing or orally at any point.
We are not asking the school not to assess xxxxx against National Standards, nor are we asking for his levels not to be provided to Ministry – we are aware that schools are legally obliged to do these things, as outlined in NAG2a. We simply do not wish to know those levels and do not want [our child] to know them, either.
Information such as that reported to us at the parent/teacher interview – reading level, what maths concepts he has grasped, the words he can spell, and so on – gives us a good and clear picture of where xxxxx is at with his learning, and this type of information is sufficient.
We do not wish to add to [his teacher] or any other staff’s workload, and are happy for any National Standards portions of xxxxx’s reports to be simply left blank.
Again, we cannot thank you and your staff enough for creating such a positive and excellent learning environment where our child is very clearly thriving.
The resistance has begun, one family at a time.
See also: https://saveourschoolsnz.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/dear-principal-we-are-opting-out-of-national-standards/
“I think there are two ways in which people controlled. First of all frighten them, and secondly, demoralised.” Tony Benn
When I heard him say that, I actually started to cry.
This is exactly what is being done to our teachers (and others) and it breaks my heart.
The constant barrage of negative comments from Ministers, the changes to the education system, put there to erode decent working conditions and even our love for the job. Novopay – keeping enough teachers fearful of not being paid on time or at all that it demoralised whole rafts of them. Bring in untrained teachers – scare the trained ones into putting up with anything in the hope they keep their jobs when it all goes to pot later down the line.
It’s all control.
Goodbye and bless your heart, Tony Benn, for your inspiration and your integrity.
John Kuhn’s Rally Speech
By John Kuhn – Supt
Feb 27, 2013, 08:39
Are there any teachers in this crowd?
I want to say something to teachers that our lawmakers should have said long ago: Thank You! Thank you for keeping our children safe. Thank you for drying their tears when they scrape their knees, for cheering on our junior high basketball players, for going up to your room on Sundays to get ready to teach my kids on Monday. Gracias por cuidarlos! As a dad, I thank you.
Coaches, thank you for fixing little girls’ softball swings and for showing our boys how to tie their ties. Thank you for getting our children safely home on the yellow dog after late ballgames, marching contests, and one-act plays.
Thank you for buying all those raffle tickets, hams, pies, discount cards, Girl Scout cookies, insulated mugs and pumpkin rolls, for buying more playoff shirts than any one person could possibly need and on top of all that spending your own money on pencils and prizes and supplies for your classroom.
There are those poor deluded souls who say you take more than you give, and I disagree with them with everything I am. Don’t let them get you down. They wouldn’t last a day in your classroom.
You are NOT a drain on this economy; you are a bubbling spring of tomorrow’s prosperity. You’re a fountain of opportunity for other people’s children.
As educational attainment goes up, crime, teen pregnancy, unemployment, and prison rates all go down. Squalor and ignorance retreat. Social wounds begin to heal. Our state progresses; our tomorrow brightens.
What you do, teacher, is priceless. You don’t create jobs. You create job creators.
Read the rest here: http://dianeravitch.net/2013/02/27/what-supt-john-kuhn-said-at-texas-rally/
We just hit 20,000 views!
That is all.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 15,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals
13 NOVEMBER, 2012
Education Minister Hekia Parata would like to thank the 35 school communities in greater Christchurch who took the time to meet with her over the last two weeks.
Ms Parata visited 35 of the 37 schools proposed for closure or merger as part of the Government’s Education Renewal Plan.
“I would like to thank those schools’ communities for their engagement, generosity of spirit, and commitment to their children’s educational future. I got a real sense of each community and their hopes and plans for their children’s education.
“Throughout the meetings, some schools were emphatic that they did not want the timeframe to be extended, others wanted it to be extended to various times, and one school asked for a 5-year moratorium. Of the 35 schools, there was no consensus.
“It was apparent to me that a lot of the schools were getting on with their submissions and were seeking certainty.’’
Ms Parata says she has decided to extend the consultation timeframe for the Aranui cluster only.
“Due to the complexity of the Aranui cluster, the fact that there is one proposal for all five schools and that the creation of a new facility is not proposed until after 2017, I have decided to extend the timeframe for their submissions until March 7, 2013.’’
All other schools’ submissions on their proposals are due on the current timeframe of December 7, 2012. The Ministry of Education has already received submissions from three schools. The Minister will advise boards of her decisions in mid-February 2013. Work on the cluster plans is not due until mid-2013.
Of the 215 schools across greater Christchurch, 13 are proposed for closure and 18 for merger. It is also proposed five Aranui schools will form a new Year 1-13 campus and two Banks Peninsula schools will become attached to the Akaroa Area School while remaining on their own sites.
“Our Government has committed $1 billion to rebuilding the education sector in greater Christchurch over the next 10 years. It’s not simply about putting back what was there, but focusing on what can be done better. There is every opportunity for Christchurch to become a leading education city,” Ms Parata says.