Diving into data analysis
Volume 25 Number 3, Summer 2004; Pages 24–27
While standardised tests and other measures readily provide data for educators to reflect upon and analyse, many schools do not have the time or the processes in place to use the data effectively. This article describes the efforts of a United States school district which acted on the results of its standardised tests. Teachers, after undertaking some professional development, aligned the test results to student work to discover weaknesses in the curriculum, set student achievement goals and formulated strategies for their achievement, and collected data to measure their performances. The process resulted in real changes at the level of classroom teaching, and led to teachers working more collaboratively in their desire to address student needs. The details of the process, and the changes which resulted from its implementation, are contained in the article.
Are you looking out the window or in the mirror?
Volume 25 Number 3, Summer 2004; Pages 63–64
DuFour describes a professional development session in which he countered a list of suggestions, on how to improve educational outcomes for students, from the participating teachers, with one of his own. When asked to compare the lists, the teachers discovered that much of what they had proffered – increasing financial resources, more planning time for teachers, smaller class sizes etc. – was based on what others should or could do, as opposed to what they could do, a theme which ran through every initiative on Dufour’s alternative list. Dufour explains that the teachers list relies on ‘looking out the window’, hoping for others to change one’s circumstances. His, on the other hand, which included initiatives such as better curriculum co-ordination, the implementation of formative assessment, a better school culture and better relationships with parents, asked the participants to change the aspects of school life over which they had control – in other words, to ‘look into the mirror. Dufour asserts that the latter approach is much more empowering and action driven, and leads to real school improvement.
Subject HeadingsSchool culture
Inner voice tells teachers how to grow
Volume 25 Number 3, Summer 2004; Pages 50–55
Based on the work of Howard Gardner, Daniel Goleman and Tom Sergiovanni, the I-C-I framework isolates the three domains which form an individual’s leadership capacity, namely the interpersonal, the cognitive and the intrapersonal. In any leadership challenge or situation, leaders will need to be aware of their capacities, skills and resources in the aforementioned domains. The I-C-I framework leads individuals through an inventory of these domains, and then points them towards what needs to be done in order for them to behave effectively in each, and, in so doing, operate optimally as a leader in any given situation. The framework is based on the needs and experiences of school leaders, and it depicts the three domains on a vertical axis, with ‘five considerations’ – describing domain specific inventory analysis, diagnoses, modes of learning, learning activities, and ‘program activities’ – intersecting with each along the horizontal axis. Briefly, the considerations help individuals to take stock of a domain, address any shortcomings, and harness its power so as to bring it to bear on a situation.
From pencil and paper to the digital age
Volume 25 Number 3, Summer 2004; Pages 10–15
This article describes a professional development programme which aimed to cultivate in teachers an ability to improve basic literacy and digital literacy skills in students. In order to achieve this goal, a system wide professional development programme had to be designed, and it was deemed that a professional learning community would be created across the jurisdiction. The programme was funded to operate across a United States educational jurisdiction and, as such, it harnessed individuals’ capacities at different levels in the process. For example, it required a co-ordinator, skills coaches, and teaching assistants to substitute for teachers who were released for professional development activities. A curriculum audit was conducted to determine the amount of digital instructional content to which students were exposed, and coaches were trained in the various skills they had to impart to teachers. Teachers were coached in workshops and in class, where they implemented newly learned literacy strategies and kept journals of their initiatives. Students received graduated exposure to basic literacy skills, as well as technological, visual and informational literacy skills. They were also encouraged to develop self-directed learning abilities and higher order thinking skills. Details of the challenges, triumphs and accomplishments of the programme are contained in the article.
Subject HeadingsInformation and Communications Technology (ICT)
Principals across Australia ‘Dare to Lead’
Volume 8 Number 3, 2004; Pages 18–20
The Dare to Lead Coalition consists of more than 1800 schools which have accepted the opportunity, and the challenge, to improve literacy outcomes and retention rates for Indigenous students, and to make a contribution towards the reconciliation process. This article describes the experiences of the school principals who are involved in the project, through their reflections on their own, and their school's, transformations. It also explains the many initiatives and programs which schools have entered into under the Dare to Lead umbrella, and the support and assistance available to schools that are part of the coalition.
Subject HeadingsAboriginal students
An anti-bias approach: five ways to analyse classrooms to develop anti-biased skills
Volume 8 Number 3, 2004; Pages 16–17
Preparing students to engage with a diverse society and with social difference usually means developing in them a sensitivity towards social bias and stereotyping. This article shows teachers how to notice cultural stereotyping and bias in their classrooms and practices, and how to counter their own, their students’ and society’s prejudices in their classrooms. It alerts teachers to the local contexts of their students’ existences, and shows them how to challenge taken for granted views of themselves and others. Educators are exhorted to introduce diversity, and to challenge misconceptions and prejudice in culturally insular environments, and to use diversity, where it exists, to create meaningful social experiences. They are also reminded that while some students see positive reflections of themselves everywhere, many do not, and it may be their responsibility to ensure that their classrooms and schools are inclusive and supportive of all students.
Subject HeadingsMulticultural education
Noise: Does the classroom assist or impede the learning proces
Volume 8 Number 3, 2004; Pages 8–11
Verbal communication is paramount to teaching and learning, so, therefore, classroom environments have to be conducive to listening. Younger students, students with auditory problems, and students who are not being taught in their first language need classrooms in which they can clearly hear the speech of their teachers and peers. This article cites research, conducted amongst teachers and students in Canada, to support the argument that all students will benefit from classrooms which have acoustical environments that maximise auditory engagement by reducing reverberating and extraneous sound, and that those environments can be created with modest alterations to classroom designs. According to the findings in the Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network Study, younger students (Grade one) will usually only understand one clearly spoken word in six in a classroom environment. Given that language is essential to children’s conceptual development, and that teachers, talking above their normal voice levels, have a higher incidence of voice impairment, there is an obvious need to ensure that classrooms are designed to accentuate intelligible speech, and reduce surrounding, unwanted noise. Bradley’s article contains ways in which rooms can be designed to facilitate that, as well as information on appropriate decibel levels for classroom environments.
Professional development: what teachers know and can do
Volume 8 Number 3, 2004; Pages 6–7
It is accepted that students learning outcomes are, more than any other factor, dependent on the quality of teachers and teacher training. Teacher quality is, in turn, dependent on the acceptance that professional learning is a career-long activity which places teachers’ work and action at the centre of teacher development. This article surveys the kinds of professional learning that teachers can undertake, emphasising that much more is now known about what constitutes effective models of teacher professional development. Models of professional learning include learning that seeks to increase teachers’ discipline knowledge; a collaborative approach to teaching practice amongst groups of teachers; learning that accompanies curriculum changes; and ‘school-based action learning’ which addresses immediate problems in local contexts.
Subject HeadingsProfessional development
14 February 2005; Pages 4–5
Recent research in Melbourne has looked at the ways principals can transform failing schools into success stories. The research is part of a four year international project on the role of principals. Dr David Gurr and Dr Lawrie Drysdale, from the University of Melbourne's Department of Education Policy and Management, interviewed principals, teachers, students and parents at nine schools. The schools were selected on the basis of dramatic improvements in state-wide test results, positive reviews from the Department of Education and Training, and wide acknowledgment of their principals' respective roles by peers. The researchers found that the quality of the principals' leadership was the most important factor in each school's transformation, particularly in the cases of greatest improvement. All the principals set high expectations, but also set clear, consistent and manageable goals for staff. As well as academic achievement, the principals addressed the school culture, e.g. by developing a collective sense of responsibility among students for their behaviour and by encouraging peer moderation of disputes. The principals were also willing to take a firm stand when required, e.g. by taking out intervention orders against disruptive parents and by enforcing punctual attendance by students, even at the cost of losing some enrolments. Amongst teaching staff, the principals established standards and common approaches to issues such as assessment and preparation for classes. They also worked hard to deepen participation by the wider school community.
United States of America (USA)
Teaching and learning
School and community
Curriculum construction as a social field: mapping the process of the development of the New Zealand social studies curriculum
Volume 24 Number 3, 2004; Pages 22–33
A case study has documented the development of the curriculum statement Social Studies in the
Key Learning AreasStudies of Society and Environment
Subject HeadingsNew Zealand
Retraining teachers to teach science: is it a good idea?
Volume 50 Number 2, Winter 2004; Pages 28–31
The authors evaluate a program in
Key Learning AreasScience
Subject HeadingsState schools
New South Wales (NSW)
Does critical literacy have an image problem?
Volume 23 Number 4, November 2004; Pages 4–11
In 2003, a teacher training project on how to teach critical literacy was conducted for 12 teachers from Dubbo schools, by executive teachers from the same schools, supported by two academic mentors from the
Key Learning AreasEnglish
Subject HeadingsProfessional development
New South Wales (NSW)
English language teaching
Team teaching in primary science – how good could that be?
Volume 50 Number 2, Winter 2004; Pages 9–12
Research into primary science education indicates that teachers’ understanding of science is crucial to the quality of their science teaching. However, most teachers do not study science during their training. A specialist science teacher in a primary school is able to design and implement a science curriculum in cooperation with other teachers. Their subject expertise enables them to question children in a way that promotes understanding of scientific concepts and methods, upon which later learning can rest. In a team teaching situation the usual classroom teacher is able to learn from the science expert. They are also able to pass on knowledge of individual students’ capabilities to the expert, and to highlight links to what is being taught in other curriculum areas at the school. The article describes team teaching in two science classes for Year 3 girls at
Key Learning AreasScience
Subject HeadingsProfessional development
An enabling adult: the role of the teacher-librarian in creating a reading environment
Volume 23 Number 4, November 2004; Pages 21–27
The role of teacher librarians in creating an effective reading environment has been explored through a study of six
Key Learning AreasEnglish
Subject HeadingsCase studies
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
The benefits of behaving badly
February 2005; Pages 30–35
Students usually misbehave to meet their social and emotional needs, such as to be noticed, and to have a sense of power, choice and autonomy. Misbehaving students employ strategies such as attention-seeking; power struggles with the teacher through open or passive defiance; learned helplessness; and acts of revenge or sabotage. Commonly used disciplinary strategies reinforce misbehaviour by giving the students what they want, such as attention, escape from work, or rewards for occasional good behaviour. Instead, the students should be led towards more positive ways to to win peer respect, such as by using their areas of strength to coach other students. School staff should diminish the rewards that students find in misbehaviour, e.g. by enforcing completion of work when students are sent from the classroom. They should also increase the perceived costs by making students offer restitution to those they have intimidated.
Subject HeadingsTeacher-student relationships
Equity and empowerment in mathematics: Some tensions in the secondary classroom
Bartholomew touches on two crucial and interrelated aspects of student learning - the social context or environment, and teachers' ability and willingness to reflect on their practice. She compares the mathematics learning environment between two classes at different schools, and ponders the implications for student learning of the very different environments that she describes. Bartholomew asserts that teachers have tremendous influence on the social contexts in which students learn, as their definition of the learning task, their structuring of the routines of the classroom and their expectations of the product shape the climate and engagement of students. Teachers should be mindful of this, even when, or especially when, their shaping of the learning environment is aimed at a wider purpose or principle. In the example Bartholomew describes, student equity is privileged over the equally noble aim of self-directed learning, but this will go unnoticed by teachers if they do not continually reflect on, and question and experiment with, their practice.
Key Learning AreasMathematics
Subject HeadingsTeaching and learning