Stop Attacking Independent and Catholic School Teachers

Yesterday I spoke with a teacher who confessed he won’t identify himself as a Catholic school teacher online because of the criticism he believes he will receive. This is a teacher with a lot to offer and who does much to support the professional growth of others. His fears aren’t unfounded. Last year, when a Catholic School teacher took over the reigns of EduTweetOz for a week, some public education activists ripped into her, simply because she worked for a Catholic school.

I’ve seen it numerous times – and activists, you’re not doing the cause any good. Advocating for a better system is one thing, attacking those who work in a different system is quite another. All you do is lose people’s respect. You’ve lost mine. Stop trolling teachers and start talking constructively to the people who can make a difference at a system level..

It’s difficult to find work and we take what we can find. Being at an independent, Catholic or public school doesn’t change the reason we come to work. We all are doing our best to ensure that current and future generations of children are receiving the best quality education we can provide. No teacher should be made to feel ashamed of doing that.

Anyone who’s followed me for a while will know that I’m a vocal advocate for public schools.  I want to see a strong and robust public school system. I believe that all children should have access to an excellent education regardless of their postcode.

There are serious issues facing us. Successive government funding policies and a hostile media have made residualisation a real fear. I don’t like the damage these policies are doing to public schools.

I question the wisdom of a society which encourages groups to segregate along financial, religious and cultural lines. If a school was to separate its students into areas for Christians, Muslims and Jews, for rich and for poor, and wouldn’t let them mix, there would be an outcry.

But blaming and trolling teachers working in independent and Catholic schools for the damage that successive government policies have done to our system is pretty stupid. It’s like holding me responsible for Tony Abbott. I live in this country, I vote, but please don’t blame me for Tony Abbott.

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Rethinking Primary School Homework – ResearchED Sydney

Two years ago, my school began a process of rethinking primary school homework to develop a model aligned with research evidence. A year-long stakeholder consultation brought to the surface very strongly held views about the value and purpose of homework, some of which were surprising and shone a light onto the real impact of homework in the lives of modern Australian families within our catchment area.  Through the process of consultation a polarised community was able to find common ground and an agreed set of principles to guide the development of the new model for primary school homework.

I’ll be sharing findings of our stakeholder consultation at the  ResearchED conference to be held in Sydney on February 21 including,

  • the perceived value of homework for students, families and teachers
  • the impact of various types of homework on students, families and teachers
  • the misalignment between beliefs about homework effectiveness and what the research actually says  and,
  • the beginnings of our new model of primary school homework.

I have to confess to feeling nervous. I rarely speak in public to audiences beyond my school community and putting our work out there for public scrutiny is a little nerve-racking.

However, I decided that it would be good to get out of my comfort zone and so I agreed to appear. I just hope there’ll be some friendly faces in the crowd.

If you are a friendly face and haven’t secured your ticket to Research Ed yet, there’s still time, just follow this link.

Resources to Support Positive Education

Happiness is not something that only happens if we are lucky. We can learn skills to create conditions for happiness and we can teach those skills to our students so that they can thrive.

My latest post for Fractus Learning includes some great resources for people considering developing a positive education strategy for their school.  Check it out here.