Last episode of “Revolution School”

Great fourth and final episode in this excellent series. See my earlier post.

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I really marvelled at the success of the Darrabi Year 9 Pathways Program at Kambrya College. My own experience over the decades with similar students was not always so fruitful.

Full marks too to the documentary team and the school for so often showing things as they are. One notable case earlier hit The Age newspaper: Second Victorian school embroiled in drug scandal.

A second Victorian school is embroiled in a drug controversy, with the bust filmed in a new TV series that has sent the Education Department into a spin.

TV crews working on a new ABC series filmed a student being busted with marijuana at Kambrya College in Melbourne’s south-east.

The revelation followed a Melbourne Girls Grammar student being expelled and two others being suspended after they were caught with drugs, reportedly including ecstasy, at their year 12 formal…

The spokesman said these incidents were rare, and the school had dealt with it appropriately.

“Kambrya College features in this program because it has made great strides over recent years,” he said.

Camera crews spent a year documenting life at the Berwick state school, which has experienced a dramatic improvement in its academic performance over the past six years.

They even installed cameras in the vice-principals’ offices for the series.

It is understood that some Education Department officials were concerned the footage would reflect poorly on the state’s public schools.

An ABC spokesman said the program, which does not yet have a title, aims to explore the state of Australian secondary schools, and the challenges teachers face…

Third, great to see insights I and my colleagues garnered over the years validated by the latest from the Melbourne educationists attached to this program. For example, Professor John Hattie:

On teachers classroom methods: “When you ask teachers how often do they talk in a class most of them say 30 to 40% of the time. Well, actually they talk 80 to 90% of many classes and realising that is pretty powerful. But you don’t realise it until you actually have the evidence.”

I felt for that English teacher last night who discovered after Visible Learning analysis that she talked 100% of the lesson. Way back when Gough Whitlam was Prime Minister I took to using a reel-to-reel tape recorder in some of my own lessons at Illawarra Grammar, thinking my teacher talk would have been maybe 50% only to find it nearer to 90%. As with many of us even back 40 years ago we began to explore strategies such as small groups within lessons to enable more student interaction. That in fact became the theme that led to my being seconded for a couple of years to teacher training at the University of Sydney.

Impressed too by the Clinical Teaching idea.

Teaching is much more than passionate information transmission and behaviour management. Excellent teachers focus on individual students’ learning growth, and clinical teaching enables them to do this by:

  • monitoring and evaluating their impact on learning and adapting the lesson to meet the needs of each student – rather than expecting the student to keep up regardless of their circumstances
  • using evidence about what each student knows and understands at the start of the teaching period to inform their teaching interventions
  • targeting their assessment and teaching practices to maximise the information obtained about their impact and optimise the chances of improving student learning
  • on the basis of the above, constructing appropriate teaching and learning environments for every student, whatever their developmental stage and current abilities
  • continuously evaluating the impact of their teaching, to inform next steps.

Not unrelated really to the principles behind the Scaffolding project at UTS that I was part of in the early 2000s. For more on that see (PDF) Prospect Vol. 20, No. 1 April 2005, “Putting scaffolding to work: The contribution of scaffolding in articulating ESL education”, by Jenny Hammond and Pauline Gibbons. See also this great article I read at that time: Luciano Mariani (1997), Teacher Support and Teacher Challenge in Promoting Learner Autonomy.

I guess really good ideas don’t get out of date, though there may me an element of fashion in their presentation.

Do look at the Links from Revolution School. What a worthwhile, inspiring series it was, and a great tool for teacher training and staff development.  The general public could do well to attend to things like this rather than the politicians and many a columnist in the conservative media.

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