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Retraining of teachers for high school mathematics

By nyssa76 - 15 October 2006 24

I read this today on the ABC website.

The ACT Government says it has strong measures in place to ensure Canberra is not affected by a nationwide shortage of maths teachers… “That retraining initiative led to an additional 14 teachers being qualified to teach maths at a high school level,” he [Andrew Barr] said.”

Yes teachers were retrained in 2004. I was one of them. We spent 6 months at UC undertaking a Graduate Certificate in High School Mathematics. Oddly enough 1/2 were over 50 – not a good idea if you are trying to retain teachers who can teach mathematics and they will retire in 5yrs. So in about 3yrs time, 7 of those newly retrained teachers will leave the system.

In the 2005 Transfer Round most of the 14 teachers were given positions as Maths teachers. Others taught their former subject or a mix of that and maths.

Last year’s transfer round saw a few more teaching their old subjects with mathematics. All are permanently placed in schools – except one who isn’t even teaching mathematics. (guess who?)

Mr. Barr goes on to talk about the recruitment round for 2007. On Monday 16th, only the pre-school and primary round will be out. The secondary round won’t be out for at least 2 more weeks. Basically that gives NSW Department of Education enough time to “swoop up” and collect those teachers who applied this year.

“The ACT’s a very desirable system in which to teach in and I think across the board last year we had over 1,300 applicants for about 200 teaching positions so we’re able to select from the best teachers across Australia and that’s certainly the case in mathematics as well,” he said.

I find it interesting that he quotes “the best teachers”, because as I have already shared with you all on RA, they’re leaving for PS jobs or leaving the territory. Mathematics teachers can get paid more money in the private sector and so leave.

Mr. Barr needs to get the Transfer Round in order, for starters, then get the poison out (bad teachers) and then focus on retaining teachers.

Ok rant over.

What’s Your opinion?

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24 Responses to
Retraining of teachers for high school mathematics
VYBerlinaV8 9:15 am 16 Oct 06

There’s 2 things I’d like to see in education today:
1) A serious, hard line approach to behavioural compliance. Some real research into what works, including genuine consequences for bad behaviour. A large part of the problem is that we try to treat these kids as adults, and they’re not, they’re immature kids. They need clear boundaries.
2) Getting members of the public to teach some lessons (such as maths). I think kids would take people who ‘do’ professional or trade jobs a bit more seriously than teachers (not having a go at teachers, just remembering my own high school experience). Of course, there will need to be some way of compensating people for their time, and they will need to demonstrate they can actually teach, but a program to have a small number of lessons taught (perhaps under teacher supervision) by a variety of successful external people could be really beneficial.

On another note, when I was in my last couple of years of uni I tutored a student at one of the highest profile private schools in Canberra (in maths). I was told by the student’s parents that she was having some trouble keeping up. What amazed me was that the mathematical methods being taught were inconsistent, and often incorrect. The kids were being shown ‘rules’, that were little more than tricks to get to the right number in most cases, but had very little to do with what was really happening in a mathematical sense. Once I explained to her what each problem or method was really trying to achieve, it all came together in her mind and she advanced to the top of the class above where she started. Now this was about 8 years ago, but I sure hope maths teachers have come a long way since then. What I saw really concerned me, given that baby-VYBerlinaV8 will have to go to school in a few years!

bighead 9:49 pm 15 Oct 06

I will say, ive been fairly good through school, Hanvt had any real dramas to deal with. But some of the kids are just idiots.

I would say cloast to 50 year 11 students last year have gone allready, they are just shits, they want to be ‘tough’ but screw up schoolwork…needless to say, they get kicked out.

I think the bigger worry is more the kids that are on buses, now some of the things i have sen on them is incredible. To name a few,

Mooning out windows
Bus drivers abused
Students punched
Cat Fight
Full coke bottles out windows
And I think the worst one I was on the bus when some kids decided to chuck acorns out the window, it was a commen thing to see from kids. One of the acorns hit my neighbours car window, cracked it, I told the neighbour about it, ACTION couldnt help it.

Thankfully the crack was fixed for a small amount.

But in the end there is no denying that students these days are really fucked (excuse my french)

nyssa76 8:32 pm 15 Oct 06

bubzie, getting teachers to teach outside their area of “expertise” is nothing new.

One of the retrained teachers was a PE teacher. Another was not trained in high school maths but had been teaching it for 4 years.

Then again, I remember when I taught Maths at a Southside Govt High School, I was “yelled at” for using maths games as opposed to reading straight from the text.

Needless to say that person got a serve from me. Interestingly, my class “out performed” hers in tests etc because they understood the subect more.

She would yell at her class etc and read from the text, put down other staff and steal ideas/work from colleagues (among other things)

Sadly, she was promoted.

Gotta love the Dept.

ant 8:11 pm 15 Oct 06

I’m amazed at how kids behave these days, everywhere. My sister went to a pubic high school (her choice) and was bullied constantly as they didn’t approve of people who read books’n’things (it was in an area where most families who could afford to sent their kids to private schools. Those who couldn’t, or didn’t want to, sent them to this school!).

I used to run a specialist library, and we’d have school groups in. Some of these kids were just disgraceful. I told them that it was a public library, and that they were to share the space with the other people who were there, but for many it didn’t sink in. So I’d kick them out, they got to sit in the gutter until the group was ready to leave. The shock on their faces was something to see, and yet as a punishment, it was nothing, I just didn’t want them in my library.

there’s some very talented people in the education sector, and it’s a pity to see how again and again, the weirdos, axe-grinders and mediocrities seem to rule the day.

bubzie 7:37 pm 15 Oct 06

At my school, they’ve suddenly made all the pe teachers teach maths, as well as pe. And i know from one of my friends who has a pe teacher for a maths teacher, that the teacher pretty much reads the textbook before class, and tries to teach out of that. How are we suppose to learn when we have teachers that teach like that?

And yeah, i agree with the whole set-curriculum issue. I was at one school for terms 1 2 and 3, and we were learning about topic A, and topic B. I moved schools, and guess what we were learning there? the same thing that i already knew from my previous school! And i had missed out on like a semester of maths really. (but hey, it was year 8, and i guess its not that important?)

bighead 6:34 pm 15 Oct 06

yeah, I actually was at a private school for a year, and learnt all the same things as I allready had in the public education system.

I ended up with a nice shock whcn i went back into the public education system only to find I was a year behind in what was considered ‘normal’ maths standerd.

Public has always been the way to go, but its becoming a much more unstable foundation as time goes on.

nyssa76 6:08 pm 15 Oct 06

At her old school they did Units 1-3 [in Semester 1] .

Forgot a few words 🙂

nyssa76 6:07 pm 15 Oct 06

bighead, I know what you mean re: missing out on classes. When I was in Yr 12 the teachers went on strike. One of the downsides was that we couldn’t do work experience and sports competitions.

However, with the maths teachers, I also know what you mean but there are some who love it. I even tutor kids in my classes who have finished their SOSE work (last 10-15 mins and maybe 1-2 students) and need help with maths/English etc.

There are new maths text books – which at $60 a pop aren’t cheap for a school, even with a 10% discount. You’re still probably using the same ones I did.

Here in the ACT we don’t have a set curriculum like NSW, and each school teaches different maths units each term. It’s not a good thing and can cause problems. I have a student that has come from another school to my current one. At her old school they did Units 1-3. Units 1-3 were done in first term and 4-5 in second term. She is effectively 2 terms behind in maths.

Given the school she came from (and I escaped from) I can see why the curriculum was so far behind in the first school.

bighead 4:35 pm 15 Oct 06

Ill speak quickly from a student perspective (been through it all, about to finish year 12)

Basically for the teachers, especially in maths, most of them through my high school years didnt even know maths, you would spend every lesson going through the same old textbook from the early 90’s. Once you had finished what was deemed appropriate, then you would be able to leave.

But, because the teachers never seemed to care to much, we would simply copy answers out of te back of the book, and hey presto, we were done.

As for the pay dispute, I know teachers at my college now who are planning on heading overseas to work. The apparent hatred towards teachers if you go in and work when you are meant to be on ‘strike’ is incredible.

I think Mr Barr needs to answer some questions for sure, but I think one of my big ones for him is why he is able to let all these problems in the education system continue, which then cause obvious strikes, Now that makes my education harder.

This last year of school has been painful due to missing so many classes thanks to strikes, and Mr Barr is the only one to blame in my eyes. I missed over 10 hours of one particular class last semester, makes life much harder on a student population.

miz 2:51 pm 15 Oct 06

Re Maths, perhaps an added incentive such as removing HECS obligations for certain subjects could be offered? (I would go for it for one, as my HECS deductions are killing me!)

As a parent I totally support the teachers in their dispute over fair pay. Frankly it is evident that the local govt has mismanaged this whole issue. Makes one wonder how much that bloody Michael Costello was paid to do the stupid confidential Functional Review that is now apparently gospel, dictating every penny for everything else?

I will add that I am very happy with my local public high, Chisholm, and the excellent teachers within it. They have a very good sub-school system that seems to manage issues before they get out of control. I am thus Not Happy that this school is probably going to be messed with (P-10’ed) under the stupid amalgamations/closures proposal.

nyssa76 11:00 am 15 Oct 06

Yes but they won’t know about how to act towards a superior etc. They’ll get the sack immediately.

andy 10:55 am 15 Oct 06

im on my 5th job by the time i’m 25.. and thats counting 2 diffeent jobs with the same agency as 1 job..actually.. all up i think iv ehad 7 individual jobs since i was 14.. (of course.. thats usually cause i wwork multiple jobs..)

nyssa76 10:51 am 15 Oct 06

Special G, the pay dispute is still going because the majority of teachers are over 45yo. They basically “control” the vote within the AEU. The AEU boasts at least a 98% memembership within the ACT.

Last term I had a student call another student a “dirty c***”. When I complained nothing was done until the people in charge decided the student said it to me. Which never happened, but the student was “internally suspended”. Basically it means a student is separated from the student population (including recess and lunch times) and given work all day from their teachers.

I have to “go back” to the Dept at the end of this year. I don’t think I will as my “issue” is still not resolved. I’m looking at the PS.

So Mr. Barr, your Govt had me retrained, failed to deal with a major issue and now I’m leaving. Shame the leaving part will be raised again in the next 3yrs. Are you going to retrain more teachers? I doubt it. You’re too busy closing schools.

lateralis, they don’t know that there are consequences for their actions and think they have all the rights and no responsibilities. It will be interesting to see how many are on their 3rd job by 25yo.

lateralis 10:09 am 15 Oct 06

The ACT education system is in need of some new ideas, especially in the high school area. Primary school are holding their own with enrolments (with some notable exceptions), but parents are voting with their feet and farming their kids off to private high schools.

The reason for this is that parents perceive that their child will struggle to achieve in a system that doesn’t do more to deal with poor behaviour.

I have been shocked having moved back to Canberra after many years, at how feral some schools kids are. Are there consequences for their actions? Well, if you believe that saying you, “really are sorry”, counts as a consequence then yes, it’s all good.

Personally I think we need to get more realistic.

These kids will be moving into a punitive society that won’t tolerate their tantrums.

Imagine their shock when their boss cops a spray from them, and sacks them. Won’t they squeal then?

We aren’t doing them any favours by letting them get away with this rubbish.

I know there are heaps of good kids out there, but the rank ones are gaining ascendancy. Why would you bother doing your work, or being polite, if some dickhead next you doesn’t, and is treated with kid gloves, (in case he explodes).

Don’t get me wrong I’m not in favour of ‘old school’ approaches. They don’t work on Gen Y, but balance has gone out the window. This, as much as anything else, is why teachers are leaving the profession.

Who needs to go to work and have chairs thrown at them and be told to fuck off by a smirking little shit, who knows nothing will happen to them?

Only silly idiots like Nyssa and myself I suppose.

The latest round of ‘ideas’, and teacher bashing from the Government (federal and local) just makes my estimation of them as total clueless wankers even more valid.

Ahhh, that’s better. It’s nice to have a good rant on a Sunday morning.

Special G 9:58 am 15 Oct 06

Mr Barr keeps ranting about the ACT’s best teachers in the Country yet there is still a pay dispute.

Simple – You want the best people you have to pay them the best salaries, otherwise they leave.

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