Every school needs a champion – new ClassMovies share digital leaders’ tips

We live in a world where digital technologies are ubiquitous and pervade all aspects of our lives. Students in our classrooms need to be given opportunities to become creators of digital solutions, not just passive consumers of the technology. In doing so, we enable them to develop the skills required to participate fully in society and in the world of work.

The new Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies gives every child in Australia the opportunity to not only develop and consolidate digital literacy skills, but to be taught the fundamental concepts and skills of computer science and computational thinking.

We are very fortunate to have many teachers in Queensland who are already doing some amazing work in this area. This week we’re pleased to share some of their innovative practices through the Queensland College of Teachers ClassMovies channel, which invites you into classrooms so you can see this exciting work. These short movies also highlight how teachers are able to demonstrate key elements of quality teaching as described in the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.

Jane Batham from Good News Lutheran School provides examples of students engaging in fun activities whilst learning about binary numbers; Joel Speranza from St Joseph’s Nudgee College shares tips for adopting the ‘Flipped Learning’ pedagogy; Nicola Flanagan describes the award-winning Oakleigh State School approach to whole school implementation and Paul Hamilton from Mathew Flinders Anglican College explains the importance of digital pedagogy.

At St Hilda’s School, on the Gold Coast, Dan Martinez articulates his school’s journey with iPads in the classroom and Joanne Klien from Brightwater State School gives us an insight into how learning in the new Digital Technologies curriculum can be both fun and exciting. Kristine Kopelke from Meridan State College has focused on innovative practice in the early years and Richard Bauer from St Joseph’s Nudgee College shares his expertise in contemporary learning spaces.

One of the benefits of the new Digital Technologies curriculum is that it can be taught in conjunction with other learning areas and teachers are coming up with clever and creative ways to implement the key concepts. Who would have imagined that Prep students could learn numeracy and literacy skills whilst interacting with robotic toys such as Bee Bots and Dash and Dot? Or students designing scenes from texts using Minecraft or using 3D printers and digital drawing software to print products?

For teachers in schools where resources are limited, certain content in the new curriculum can be delivered via a series of unplugged activities. These activities are not reliant on digital devices and some can even be undertaken using pen and paper. Teachers who are yet to engage with the new curriculum will find a range of resources available to support them, regardless of where they are positioned in their learning journey.

In the words of teacher Paul Hamilton, ‘Every school needs a champion’. We thank the teachers in our latest suite of ClassMovies, their school leaders and students for inviting us into their classrooms and schools. We hope you enjoy the movies. Let us know what you think.

Check out the ClassMovies Digital Technologies Pond.

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Is That Really Acceptable?

JohnRyanBlogAuthorI believe the most important responsibility of the Queensland College of Teachers (QCT) is deciding who is admitted to the teaching profession and who remains in it. In the great majority of cases it is an easy decision.

Most applicants and teachers act ethically, both professionally and personally.  They are worthy of the special trust and responsibility vested in them by our community.

There is another very small group where it is also easy to make a decision about their suitability to teach – those who have committed certain serious criminal offences or have significantly crossed the professional boundaries expected of a teacher. Clearly these people are not suitable to teach our children.

Where it becomes challenging is when a person has or acquires criminal history or crosses professional boundaries, but not to the degree mentioned above.

Where do you draw the line: at one drug offence, two drug offences, six drug offences? What factors should be taken into account when assessing a person’s character for entering or remaining in the profession? Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes. For how long should a significant mistake be held against a person?

Some of the legislation governing the QCT is expected to be changed in the near future. If the changes are passed by State Parliament, the QCT will have to develop policy about:

  • the behaviour or types of behaviour that would exclude someone from being admitted to the profession
  • the behaviour or types of behaviour, either personal or professional, that would lead to a teacher’s registration being suspended and/or cancelled.

To help inform policy on these areas the QCT will run focus groups with classroom teachers and principals, and with representatives of parent groups, teacher unions and employer authorities.

As the regulator of the teaching profession in Queensland, the QCT is predominately about peers making judgements about peers, which is why the majority of board members are registered teachers. Board members must always take into account what is in the best interests of school students and the profession.

If you were a member of one of these focus groups what would be the key points you would like to make? You can leave your comments below:

Posted in Professional Boundries, Teaching, Uncategorized | 31 Comments

Power to Queensland Teachers

JohnRyanBlogAuthorThe word democracy is Greek in origin and literally translated, means power to the people.

Love them or hate them, elections are part of our lives. Whilst some of us may complain about the inconvenience of having to vote in government elections, the thought of the alternative is abhorrent. Imagine living in a country where you do not have the basic human right to help decide who governs.

At the Queensland College of Teachers (QCT), practising teachers have the right to vote for three positions on our governing body, which helps shape education policy and makes decisions affecting the profession.

Over the coming months you will have the ability to not only vote for who you want to be on the Board, but to nominate yourself.

Your vote is crucial, not only for the future of the profession, but for the future of being able to maintain that vote.

Throughout the world the boards of teacher regulatory authorities, like the QCT, are put together in different ways. For instance, in Scotland and Ontario, a majority of their Board members are elected by teachers.

In Queensland, major stakeholders nominate most of the Board members and three practising teachers – two from the state sector and one from the non-state sector – are elected by teachers. Overall, there are 17 QCT Board members, including a minimum of nine registered teachers.

Whilst the number of teachers elected by their peers is limited (compared to Scotland or Ontario), it is still an opportunity for teachers to both nominate and/or elect Board members. If a significant number of teachers do not exercise their right to vote, Government may look at other options for appointing three Board members and teachers may lose their right to vote. It is important that teachers make up the majority of Board members.

Good governance of a profession by its members is a characteristic of a mature profession.

The Board of the QCT decides the strategic direction, and controls the affairs, of the College. The Board members have great responsibilities and must have a broad understanding of corporate governance and excellent knowledge of contemporary educational issues.

It won’t take long to either nominate for a position on the Board and/or cast your vote. Details of the election can be found on the home page of the QCT at www.qct.edu.au

The upcoming election of teachers for the 2016 Board belongs to Queensland teachers. Make the most of this opportunity to have your say. Exercise your right to vote and encourage others to as well!

John Ryan
QCT Director

Posted in Elections, QCT Board | Leave a comment

Mutual Fear

One of the benefits of gaining more and more life experience – ok, let’s be real, growing older – is it allows you to reflect on how you have dealt with certain tasks and challenges. It also allows you to see more clearly both sides of some issues.

I was interested to read a research report we commissioned recently about teachers and parents working together. It allowed me to reflect on how I interacted with parents as a teacher, and how I interacted with teachers as a parent. It also allowed me to think about my own children and their homework.

I know homework is a vexed issue amongst teachers and parents – how much should there be, if any? How difficult should the task be? Should it be reinforcement or enquiry-based?  Many of us are familiar with Karl Stefanovic’s rant, earlier this year on the morning show he co-hosts, about homework involving constructing suspension bridges.

I was interested to read that “close parental supervision of a child’s homework has the potential to be counter-productive, and giving parents formal training in how to help their children in specific subjects areas does not seem to make a difference”. This seems to go against common sense, but when you look at what the research says about what makes a difference, it starts to become apparent why it’s the case.

On reflection, I can recall how frustrating helping with homework was for everyone involved as my boys progressed through school, particularly in the middle and senior phases of schooling. Reading the research paper I realised that I was not alone in my feelings of frustration and ineptness as my sons studied subjects that I did not have expertise in or used methodologies that had changed so much since I studied the subject. I clearly remember the bemused look from one of my sons when I asked him for his slide rule to help solve a mathematical problem.

So how could I have spent my time more productively with my boys?

It appears I could have had the most influence on my sons’ education by: having high expectations for them, showing an interest in their learning development, talking to them about things that interested them, and discussing their educational and career aspirations. I hope I did these things as well as supervising their homework. Having these types of conversations may have been far more enjoyable than me drilling my sons about logarithms and trigonometry (my apologies to my sons’ maths teachers!). The research also mentions the importance of talking about how maths works in real life and how it can be used at home to solve challenges.

The research showed that effective schools had highly engaged parents and students, while children whose parents were actively engaged were more likely to achieve higher outcomes and develop positive self-esteem.

So the teacher/parent relationship is paramount; parents have to feel connected with schools. Parents need to feel welcomed at schools and the language and culture of schools need to be demystified for parents. Teachers and schools have an important role in establishing a positive relationship.

The term mutual fear is used in the research. It refers to the fear both teachers and parents feel about talking to each other. I clearly remember my very first class of 8 and 9 year olds. At the end of Term 1 we had parent/teacher interviews. The father of one of my students lectured at a College of Advanced Education in early childhood studies. He was held in high-esteem in the profession. I can still remember the anxiety I felt as my interview commenced with both the parents. Was he going to be critical of my teaching strategies? My fear was quickly alleviated when I heard the words “we will support you in any way possible”. Hindsight is easy, but if I had my time over again I would have had interviews earlier than waiting until the end of the term and ensure I had a number of positive comments to give each parent about their child.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on what the evidence says about teachers and parents collaborating to assist students to reach their full academic potential.

If you haven’t already, you can read the full report we commissioned “Parents and teachers: Working together to foster children’s learning” here:  bit.ly/1GDEaJw

Do you have strong views on any of the issues raised in it?JohnRyanBlogAuthor

Kind Regards,

John Ryan.

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Posted in Parents, research, Teaching | Leave a comment


OvBlog1TopLefter the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about teaching graduates – some of whom I had the privilege of addressing at a graduation ceremony last year – wondering how their first days in the classroom have been.  Did the knowledge and skills they mastered at university and on prac prepare them for the first few weeks of their career?

My thoughts turned to them because of the significant criticism of initial teacher education and teachers in general over the Christmas holiday period in some media. Teachers face a seemingly constant barrage of public criticism.

In the graduation ceremony speech I stressed that teachers need to have a vast body of knowledge to be effective, but that this knowledge isn’t enough. Teachers also need to have well-developed emotional intelligence, skills and a passion for teaching to bring this knowledge to life. In a nutshell, not just anybody can be a teacher.

US President Barack Obama, who captured our attention last year with his speech at The University of Queensland, has said of teachers: “I wouldn’t be here today if it were not for teachers like these who challenged me and pushed me and put up with me and inspired me and set me straight when they had to … If you want to guarantee that you are making a difference every single day – become a teacher.”

There are a plethora of stories about how teachers have changed lives and thus the world. Queensland’s Ian Frazer, a world-leading pioneer medical researcher, said it was a teacher who inspired him to be a scientist.

There is no doubt our student performance on some International tests can improve, but the way to achieving this improvement is to listen to teachers and work collaboratively with them in developing policies and practices.

One of the main reasons for introducing this blog is to have an informal means of obtaining the views of teachers when the QCT is developing or reviewing policies. This feedback will be considered by the Board and staff.

What our teaching graduates and all teachers need is our support – not public disparagement. They perform too important a role in our society to be treated that way. Teachers change lives and influence people who will go on to change the world as a result of that influence.

We thank you for your commitment, your expertise and the choice you have made to teach Queensland children.

If you have an important topic you would like the QCT to address in these blogs, let us know.

We look forward to conversing with you.John Ryan

John Ryan
QCT Director



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Posted in Beginning Teaching, Support | 2 Comments