Week 4

sir_ken_animated

We had a really interesting conversation with Jane, the learning support teacher at Kippa-Ring this week.

We’re writing a grant to get some of the students help with their reading, so wanted to get some stats and stories from her.

Some of the things she had to say made me really, really, really quiet. The kind of quiet you get when something completely floors you …

  • At least 10 students in Year 6 and 7 are reading at Year 3 level or below
  • More than 50% of the students presenting for prep have the oral language skills of 3 and a half year olds (or younger)

Think about those two things. Makes you wonder hey? What keeps teachers keeping on?

Some observations I’ve made after spending just a few days in the school:

  • How little (paid) time teachers have for preparation.
  • How much bullying there is and how miserable it makes kids. I’m not talking about “oi give me your lunch money” type bullying but the way they *constantly* put each other down. I’m guessing that a lot of the time it’s learned behaviour from home – they get called an idiot so think it’s okay to call other people an idiot. It makes my head spin trying to keep up and be vigilant and say “that’s not okay” each and every time it happens. I’m only working with 13 students. How does a teacher keep on top of the stuff that isn’t actually their ‘job’ when they have 28 kids in a (un-airconditioned) classroom in the middle of Summer, and are trying to teach curriculum?
  • How much energy goes into behaviour management and how little time that leaves for “the good stuff”.
  • How hard the teachers work and how passionate they (still) are despite the enormous challenges they face.

Our schools need help. They can’t fix all of this on their own. It takes a village to raise a child. PLEASE think about what you can do to help your local school. Do whatever you can. Join the P+C (the C stands for citizens, you don’t have to have a kid at the school to join). Go to the local fete and spend money. Volunteer in reading programs. Offer to run a workshop or two. Sponsor projects like 500 Hours (shameless plug). Really, have a think about what you can do.

PS Check out the animated Ken Robinson clip (click on the image above) to get you motivated (in case this post has left you feeling overwhelmed).