What if….?

What if instead of everyone being allocated to one main job within a school, there was some kind of rotation system? What do you suppose would happen if teachers had experience in working in the school office? Would teachers have their eyes opened if they were given the opportunity to be learning support assistants for a period of time?

 

BETT 2009 and EdTechRoundup

I’m off to BETT 2009 on Friday, one of the largest educational technology-related trade fairs in the world. This year I’m speaking about my use of Linux-powered netbooks as part of a Becta-funded Open Source Schools project of which I’ve been part. You can see me in action on Saturday 17 January at 10.45am in the Club Room!

 

The Third Conversation

In the beginning was ‘The Conversation’, ‘The New Story’, or how new technologies had the potential to change the educational landscape. What could we do with these new technologies. Did it mean the end of schools? This was from around 2003/4 up until 2006.

 

Gunther Kress on Literacy

I’ve been doing more studying this evening, this time looking again at Gunther Kress’ 2003 book Literacy in the New Media Age. There’s lots to like and agree with in Kress’ writing, but there’s a couple of things I’d take issue with, not least his definition of literacy

 

The problem(s) of 21st century literacy/ies

As most people reading this will already know, I’m studying towards an Ed.D. at the moment. My (tentative) thesis title is What does it mean to be ‘educated’ and ‘digitally literate’? The impact of ICT and the knowledge society upon education in the 21st century.. You can find my thesis proposal here and bookmarks related to my studies here. My current thinking is that I’m just going to focus on the concept of what ‘literacy’ means in the 21st century as it’s a huge and confused (confusing?) field.

 

7 Things You May Not Know About Me

I’ve been tagged in another meme, this time the ‘7 Things You May Not Know About Me’ one by Alev Elci. As I participated in the ‘5 Things’ meme back on teaching.mrbelshaw.co.uk in 2006 here, I’ll cheat by just adding two. :-p

 

Top 25: The Best of Belshaw 2008

Version 2.0 of this blog (dougbelshaw.com) is now pretty much exactly a year old. It was a year ago that I decided to retire teaching.mrbelshaw.co.uk and concentrate my energies here. During that time I’ve written some blog posts that have hit home with some people and some that haven’t. Here, in ranked order according to AideRSS, are the ones with the highest ‘PostRank’ – a ranking system that takes into account inbound links, tweets, delicious links, comments, etc. 🙂

 

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas

Have a great Christmas and an enjoyable New Year. And yes, that’s my photo so I don’t need to attribute it… :-p

 

I’m 28, I’m not *old*…

Woe is me. It’s my 28th birthday today and, for the third year running I’m ill. Last year I still went out for a meal, could taste nothing, and had a thoroughly miserable time. This year I’m staying in bed. 🙁

To add to my woes, I’ve been re-reading what certain characters from history managed to achieve in their 28th year of existence. Here’s a flavour:

What have I done? Nothing quite so illustrious:

Not quite in the same league! I am, however, considering writing a book. It won’t be ‘available in all good bookshops’. In fact, it won’t be available in bad ones either! Like Doug Johnson and others have done, I’m considering using Lulu.com to make my proposed book freely downloadable and available to purchase in paper format for a reasonable fee.

Technology wise, I upgraded in the last few weeks from a Macbook to a Macbook Pro, went through several netbooks (Asus Eee 701 -> modded OSX-powered Advent 4211 -> Asus Eee 1000), bought an iPhone, returned it, and then finally changed my Nokia N95 for an iPhone 3G 16GB, and bought a wonderful digital SLR camera in the shape of the Canon EOS 1000D.

What are my plans for my 29th year on earth? Hmmm… I’ll limit myself to three:

  1. Apply for and obtain a job that means my wife, Hannah, doesn’t have to work.
  2. Write half my Ed.D. thesis around the concept of digital literacies.
  3. Start a new project – either through Folens or independently that brings together some of the ideas Nick Dennis and I have been discussing. 🙂

What are YOUR plans for 2009?

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My response to the GTC’s proposed ‘code of conduct’ for teachers in England.

GTCAs I’ve mentioned once or twice before, teaching is only a ‘profession’ in the loosest sense of the term. Teachers don’t get paid as much or enjoy the same sort of status as, say, doctors and lawyers, yet our job combines very difficult elements: social worker, instructor, mentor, teamworker, and role model, to name but a few.

The General Teaching Council for England have proposed a new ‘code of conduct’ for teachers. See the BBC News article here for an overview. I was against the establishment of this regulatory body as it seems (and has proved) to be an example of needless bureaucracy and red tape.

You can read the proposed code of conduct here. I would suggest that you do so before reading any more of this post… :-p

Here’s the key parts as far as I’m concerned:

Of course, the values and practices set out in the Code are already evident in classrooms and schools across England. The purpose of the Code is to set down in one place some clear statements about teacher professionalism which apply to all teachers, no matter what subject or age of children they teach, their role or level of experience, or the context in which they work. (p.3)

If the system’s already working, why do we need legislation?

As the professional regulatory body for teaching, the GTCE also has a key role in strengthening teacher professionalism.(p.3)

The GTCE is unelected and unwanted by most teachers, who resent the levied fee (even if we do get it back if we’re in full-time employment). It’s also a barrier to good teachers moving between countries. For example, if I wanted to apply for a job in Scotland, I’d have to pay c.£50 to join the General Teaching Council for Scotland first! (and vice-versa)

Reflecting changes in the policy environment and in legislation, the revised Code places greater emphasis on safe-guarding children and young people and promoting and protecting their rights, and on equalities. (p.4)

What about the teachers’ human rights and right to a private life?

The Code focuses on behaviours and the way in which teachers conduct themselves on a day-to-day basis. However, because behaviours arise from values, beliefs and attitudes, the document begins with a statement of the core values that underpin teacher professionalism. (p.5)

So you have to have particular beliefs and values to be a teacher? What about diversity?

‘Core values’ of the teaching profession in GTCE document:

• Excellence and continual development
• Commitment and empathy
• Reflection and self-regulation
• Honesty and integrity
• Respect, equality, diversity and inclusion
• Involvement and empowerment
• Collegiality and cooperation
• Responsiveness to change (p.6)

How can the code legislate for ‘reflection’, ’empathy’ and real ‘responsiveness to change’. It’s a farce.

The proposed ‘eight principles of conduct and practice’:

  1. Place the wellbeing, development and progress of children and young people at the heart of their professional practice
  2. Reflect on their own teaching to ensure that it meets the high professional standards required to help children and young people achieve their full potential
  3. Strive to awaken a passion for learning and achievement among children and young people and equip them with the skills to become lifelong learners
  4. Promote equality and value diversity
  5. Take proactive steps to establish partnerships with parents
  6. Work as part of a whole-school team
  7. Cooperate with other professional colleagues who have a role in enabling
    children and young people to thrive and succeed
  8. Demonstrate high standards of honesty and integrity and uphold public trust
    and confidence in the teaching profession (p.7)

This already happens. No argument here. The document then goes into more depth on these eight points. Most of it had me nodding my head in agreement, apart from the first bullet point of eighth principle, which reads:

Uphold the law and maintain standards of behaviour both inside and outside school that are appropriate given their membership of an important and responsible profession. (p.22)

This is worded very ambiguously. For example, until a couple of months ago I had 6 points on my license due to two separate incidents of minor speeding infractions. Are they relevant? A couple of members of staff get drunk at a Christmas party and dance on the tables. Is that relevant? Who decides – the unelected GTC?

I’m all for greater professionalism within education. What I’m against is administration and bureaucracy for the sake of it. I’m absolutely for easier ways to get rid of poor teachers. But I’m absolutely against imprecisely-worded ‘principles’ that have been drafted by an unelected and unwanted body.

And then, hidden away in the appendix:

Examples of failures in this category have included: bullying or harassing staff; working while on sick leave; being under the influence of alcohol while at school; accessing the internet for personal use while supervising children during timetabled lessons

I’m obviously a terrible teacher as I’ve done two of these on more than one occasion. No, not alcohol or bullying! I’ve been too ill to work at school before – in terms of standing up in front of a class, but have been able to use my laptop to earn money from ongoing work I do for a publishing company. Additionally, when I’ve covered classes who are working away quietly and independently, I’ve taken some marking to do. When that’s finished I’ve written the occasional blog post, checked eBay auctions, etc. whilst supervising a class.

I don’t think these two things make me a terrible teacher at all or morally reprehensible – do you? It’s the ambiguity of the statements that gets me.

What are YOUR thoughts?

 
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