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Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Being a Professional

Some of us, including me,  at Nuova Lazio High School got an email from our Deputy Principal (DP).

It seems that we'd been a wee bit naughty, and we had yet to write what we had chosen as a Personal Enquiry Project on the list on the Learning Wall of the staffroom. (Sounds a bit like being back at Primary school, don't you think?)

The email wasn't nasty, but we all got the definite feeling that we'd had our knuckles rapped for being naughty children.

I should explain that the New Zealand Teaching Council has decided that as a strategy to maintain and improve Professional Standards, every teacher in NZ has to demonstrate that they are striving to improve their knowledge and practice of pedagogy.  The DP known to Richard [of RBB] as Runner is in charge this year, and as she's a really nice person, and not wanting to disappoint her, I researched  thoughtfully added made one up and wrote it on the list. (The other reason is that while she's a lovely lady, she can get a little nippy if she suspects that someone is not doing what they should be.)

I wrote "Co-operative learning and co-construction of standards in the domain of Information and Computing Technology, and the Digital Technologies."

I was quite proud of this, but I should like to explain what exactly I mean.

According to the prevalent thinking in Education (note the capital E, we're in the realms of the ivory towers of academe) co-operative learning is getting the kids to work in groups to complete tasks collectively toward academic goals.  See Wikipedia.

Our kids working together

My definition is just a wee bit different.  To me, co-operative learning is when I tell the kids what to do, and they co-operate by doing EXACTLY what I say. It has worked for the last 15 years, giving me nice, well behaved classes with very high pass rates.

Co-construction is, again by the Educationalist's definition, an approach to creating Learning Intentions and Success Criteria by a combined teacher and pupil mechanism or gestalt.

I hate to say it, but I used this in my class yesterday.

Me, speaking to class.  "Alright my lovelies, do you want to pass this assessment, which will let you progress towards your final goal of getting out of school and gaining a well paid job (not you Natasha, I know you still want to be a pole dancer )?"

Class "Yes Mistah"

Me "And how are we going to get the best possible grades?"

Class "By doing exactly as you tell us to Mistah"

Me "Well done, have a lollie"  (I am a keen devotee of the Skinnerian school of behavioural modification through rewards and punishments.  Lollies work.)

So the end result was we co-constructed a Learning Strategy to help them progress.

Sometimes there's a grain of truth in the cubic kilometres of crap shoveled out of the Schools of Education.

It's nice to be so open minded and willing to try each new innovation in Education.  We're all undergoing brainwashing a meeting on Friday when we'll get told by a group of infants-in-arms how to best relate to our students in a non-confrontational way and how to avoid the use of stand-downs and suspensions by giving the kids a good talking to.

Anyway, back to the List on the Learning Wall.  As I wrote my chosen Enquiry Project on the list, I did notice quite a few blank spaces where colleagues have yet to chose their Project.

In the spirit of co-collegiality, I've decided to help them with this list of possible titles.

Educationalist’s Meaning
Real Meaning
Investigation of the Key Competency;
Managing Self
This competency is associated with self-motivation, a “can-do” attitude, and with students seeing themselves as capable learners. It is integral to self-assessment.

The ability to arrive on time and shut up.

Investigation of the Key Competency; Relating to Others

Relating to others is about interacting effectively with a diverse range of people in a variety of contexts. This competency includes the ability to listen actively, recognise different points of view, negotiate, and share ideas

 Finding out how to stop the little b*stards from hitting each other.

Investigation of the Key Competency; Using language, symbols, and texts

Using language, symbols, and texts is about working with and making meaning of the codes in which knowledge is expressed. Languages and symbols are systems for representing and communicating information, experiences, and ideas.

 Find out how to stop the little sods from swearing at each other, stop them tagging (writing graffiti) on every available surface and stop sending text messages on their bloody phones.

Investigation of the Key Competency; Thinking

Thinking is about using creative, critical, and metacognitive processes to make sense of information, experiences, and ideas. These processes can be applied to purposes such as developing understanding, making decisions, shaping actions, or constructing knowledge. Intellectual curiosity is at the heart of this competency.

Discover a method of keeping the little sh*ts from falling asleep.

Investigation of the Key Competency; Participating and contributing

 This competency is about being actively involved in communities. Communities include family, whānau, and school and those based, for example, on a common interest or culture. They may be drawn together for purposes such as learning, work, celebration, or recreation. They may be local, national, or global.

Finding out how to stop the little b*stards from talking to each other, and to get them to shut up when I'm talking.

Developing an understanding of the best use of Learning Intentions.
Learning intentions describe the knowledge, skill, understanding(s) and/or attitudes/values that are needed to develop an aspect of the curriculum. They are usually negotiated with students and expressed in a lesson or series of lessons. Learning intentions should be expressed in language that students understand and should support them in understanding what they are supposed to be doing and why. Ideally students can put learning intentions into their own words.

Sit down, shut up and listen to what we’re doing today.

Developing an understanding of the best use of Success Criteria.
Success criteria describe how students will go about achieving a learning intention or how they will know when they have learnt it. The purpose of creating success criteria is to ensure students understand the teacher's criteria for making judgments about their work, and so that they gain an ‘anatomy of quality’ for that particular piece of work.
IF you’ve managed to get anything done, show to me and I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it.

I don't suppose I'll get many kudos for all the thought and careful preparation that went into this, but I'm just trying to help.

Help this poor girl see her navel


  1. Ah, management fads. This month, my employer is dedicated to "laser-like focus". To show our dedication to focus, we have just sixty core projects to focus on company-wide. I think that someone has misunderstood the word "focus", but I feel it would be churlish to focus on that. I think they mean "spatial coherence" if they are really going to stretch the laser analogy, but I like to think of my indifference as a diffraction grating, whereby I maliciously force projects to interfere with each other for my own entertainment, until the next fad comes along.

    1. 60 "core" project?

      Are they mad?

      Sorry, rhetorical question, of course they are.
      They're about as focussed as a myopic herring in a vat of mustard sauce.

      Big words.

      I know what a diffraction grating is, but be careful, most of my readers will think it's something that fits over a drain.

      Moiré patterns are so lovely, aren't they?

    2. I was attempting to encourage your readers to focus their energy into understanding wave/particle duality. But, yes, in retrospect, they'll all have their minds in the sewers.

    3. Good attempt at increasing scientific understanding Shackleford, but doomed to failure I'm afraid.

  2. Wonderful Post TSB. I love your interpretation/translation of the KC's. So true!! Looks like you are over your bloggers block. Back to a great post with the boobie pic at the end. Your truly such an inspiration to so many of us.

    1. Thank you VG, you say such kind things.

      I mwouldn't go so far as saying an "inspiration", I reckon I'm closer to a "bad example"

    2. You are an inspiration - you inspire us to laugh at the stupidity of it all.

    3. Well, we've always got a choice about the stupidity.
      Laugh, cry or keep the finger clenched on the AK-74.

      Not that I'm an inspiration; I like to think of myself as more of a bad influence.

  3. LMAO! This was brilliant! Oh please please tell me you'll do this. Pretty please. With sugar. On top.

    1. Thanks Austan, just for you I'll print it up and put it on the notice board.

      If my next post comes from darkest Aussie, it will probably mean that I've been fired.

    2. Ha! But you'll have made friends of every teacher there...

  4. This is very clever.

    In the end I think teaching and learning is mostly about clarity and motivation. The ability to inspire is a great gift for a teacher to have and the technique of of communicating in a simple, straightforward fashion is a rare thing, at least it was in my many years in a classroom. The best teachers that I ever had helped me see things in a different way and I remain grateful to them.

    1. Thanks Laoch, I agree that clear and logically structured communication is essential, whcih is why i try and use few "buzz" words with the kids, or my colleagues come to that.

      I absolutely HATE the bloody word Pedagogy, to such an extent that I've renamed it Pedadodgy.

  5. Alternatively, you could just tell everyone you're basing your teaching methods on Sidney Poitier in To Sir with Love. I bet the educationalists don't have a movie showing how their jargon works in practice.

    1. I remember that there was a film, but I can remember absolutely nothing about the plot.

      Actually the eductionalists do have such a movie. It's called "Apocalypse Now".

  6. Tell them you're going to teach everything using the medium of interpretive dance.

    1. Sorry Steve, nobody, and I mean nobody would believe that if they've ever seen me dance.

      It's not so much interpretive as bloody awful.

  7. Being a bit 'old school' myself I'd find this kind of political correct bullshit overwhelming, I might well tell them what I thought of their emails and forms. I grew up in a time when your irritated teacher might slap you in the ear if you continue to talk in his class, where the humble Black Board eraser becomes a flying missile with your name on it should you ignore teacher. But you know what? I respected my teachers and I learned a fair bit.

    (I deleted my 1/2 page rave...I do feel better now I've got that off my chest)

    1. Hi Tempo,
      I too am a veteran of the "old school", with the scars from the ruler over the knuckles. I remember the sound of the wood and felt eraser (we called them dusters)whistling just over my head. I was talkative amd Miss McPherson (may she burn in hell)was a very bad shot, to the detriment of Annie Porter who sat just behind me.

      Why, pray tell did you delete your ½ page rave?

      We all enjoy a good rant, and I'm gld you're feling better.

  8. Ah, now I'm reminiscing about the hole in the gib behind my head in the maths classroom. Mr Sammons was a very good shot, but I used to duck in time, to the detriment of the wall.

    1. Ah, happy times, happy times.

      Apart from the strap (the Tawse in Scotland) detentions, lines, homework that you didn't get paid for, gaberdine raincoats, school caps, cold homes, boring food, manualy powered dentist's drills and worst of all, woollen bathing costumes. Have you ever tried to swim in such garments, already saturated with sand, in the freezing waters of "summer" seas off Aberdeen?

      Just don't.

  9. Im going to have to read this again because I'm still unsure what pedagogy means (yes I was one of those ones who never listened...but at least I never punched anyone)

    1. Good comment. I'm still not completely sure what it really means, except I'm against it because Ringo uses the f*cking word all the f*cking time.

      Well done for not punching. I bet you were teacher's pet.

  10. Have you ever noticed that, when the dancing bear and Runner are missing from staff briefing and Ringo is the guy who gets to kick things off, he adopts a pose that one might adopt if one was going to take a dump while standing very straight?

    1. HAHAHA.

      I wasn't there this morning for two reasons.

      1. The blonde art lady's hubby was in a car accident, and I had to arrange emergeny cover.
      2. We were being told how to do a Karakia, and I refuse to listen to such superstitious claptrap.

      I have noticed his tendency to stand in rather an odd way, but I put it down to piles.

    2. Ringo probably stands awkwardly in the morning because even that early in the day he is bursting full of crap!

  11. Ha ha - the old duster missile. I had to duck a few of those thrown by psycho Brother Paulinus. See:

    1. Thanks for the link, and you're quite right. The looney left have won, and we've all lost.

      Strange to see in that post Richard{of RBB] commenting in his original form.

      Quite refreshing.
      Like seeing a nubile young gel suddenly ripping of her corset.

  12. Actually, it's no different that corporate America (if that's any comfort, which I'm sure it isn't). We have goals to achieve and highest heights to hit.

    Have you ever thought of running for office? A government could use the kind of verbal bullshit-subterfuge you wield like a ninja skill.

    1. I used to work in corporate Europe, and trust me, they're not that different.

      I've tried running for office, but it seems that I'm too honest.

      When I told the committee that:
      A was an asshole.
      B was a perverted ass-licking brown-nosing corrupt bastard
      C ouldn't find his own ass with a both hands, an Aegis radar and shirt-lifting ferret

      They decided that my services would not be required.

      It turned out that A, B and C were all related in one form or another to various members of the committee.

      Some people just cannot abide honesty.

  13. I would be extremely tempted to make up a whole load of new words and write them down in what sounded like a sensible sentence, but wasn't. (Why was it that I could never hold down a job again? )

    1. Ah, Jenny, such a skill is highly marketable in the gold-plated corridors of the ivory towers of academe. You could be a professor.

  14. I didn't do any of this co-operative learning crap. That's because I have two degrees and a teaching certificate, and they are children. Of course you try to make it interesting, but discipline comes first.

    Your talent to bullshit is so good the brighter ones in the assessers' cloisters might allow themselves a little smile at the fact that you're taking the piss.

    1. Ah, but the buggers don't have a sense of humour, so they think my paper is "serious". They'll probably end up doing some research on my columns.

  15. Cracking post TSB

    The post that is - although the photo of the balance challenged young lady is aesthetically pleasing too.......

    where do you find them.........?

    {don't answer that - I spend enough time on-line already}

    1. Thank you Alistair, I cannot really explain about how I find the pictures. It's a talent.


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