Tuesday, 7 July 2020

The Process of Making Changes

Throughout my working life (teaching and non-teaching), I've worked for, with and under many different people with different leadership styles. I have started to recognise what I really value in a leader, and what isn't as effective for me and my development. I'm now at the point in my career where I am wanting to up-skill to be able to become a leader of others, so The Education Hub's webinar 'Shifting the focus from change to improvement' caught my eye (Distinguished Professor Viviane Robinson). The session was focused around making changes and why/how these changes are being made.

There were several questions that left me thinking, as outlined in my sketchnote. One question in particular was related to listening to staff and students before making any changes, or suggesting new initiatives. The biggest thing that I took away from this webinar was how important that is. To really stop and listen to why someone (or why a group of people) are doing something the way they are currently. They are going to have understandings, evidence, observations to justify their reasoning, which you may have not considered, even if you are their leader. From this conversation your change/initiative/proposal may adapt, using the knowledge and feedback you now have. Don't just make this decision on your own, listen to the why, listen to your colleagues, include them in your decision-making process.


The second takeaway for me, was what are the different puzzle pieces that contribute to the problem or issue you are suggesting to adapt/alter. From conversations with staff and/or students, you may find there are several factors at play for the low achievement for example, not just how the unit of learning that is delivered. For instance, there may be low achievement because the teacher needs support with behaviour management, or the class sizes may be too big for 1:1 support, or they don't have the content knowledge to deepen learning for higher grades. All of these puzzle pieces will contribute in some way, some more than others. So if the major puzzle piece is the need for professional development around behaviour management strategies, but they are offered a course on deepening content learning, this won't support success toward increasing student achievement for that particular staff member. Reiterating the importance of including your colleagues in the process of adaptations/additions/changes etc.

Finally, Viviane discussed in detail her theory engagement model, as pictured alongside, which is explored in her book Reduce Change to Increase Improvement. Put simply, the first step before making any changes is for parties to agree on the proposed problem. From there, evidence to suggest why this is a problem needs to revealed. This step obviously includes discussions with staff as aforementioned, but can also include open and honest conversations with students, lesson observations and assessment data. Evaluating the evidence gathered, considering the overarching problem and discussing the alternatives is step three. To conclude the cycle, the new ideas/resources/suggestions are to be trialled and implemented. The cycle of course continues to repeat itself, to determine what the long term changes are for staff and ultimately students (positive and negative).

Overall, I recommend watching this webinar for any new leader, or anyone like me who is aspiring to be a leader. It really leaves you thinking about the importance of consultation before diving into any changes!

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Lockdown Learnings

After the first three weeks of online teaching and learning, I asked my Senior students for feedback about the challenges they were facing, but also the things they were enjoying. After reading through their comments, I kept these in the back of my mind when planning lessons, communicating with the students and setting tasks for them to complete. 

Three weeks later, at the end of lockdown, I asked the students if they'd comment again. I was interested to see if there was much of a change. Many of the messages, as highlighted below, remained much the same. However, there was a positive change in attitude towards learning online/from home from many of the students, when compared to the first Google Form. I thought it was particularly interesting to note how honest they were, not only with me but with themselves!


The most common positives across the three classes were:
  • Flexibility: Many enjoyed being able to work at their own pace, and complete tasks when they felt comfortable. If they completed that subject, they liked they were able to work on something else they needed to do, or they could look ahead at other tasks for that class to do.
  • Feeling part of a class: Rather than the teacher just asking if they had questions, or just explaining the task and leaving, the kids enjoyed opportunities to connect with each other, time to do things that weren't related to work like quizzes and chats, and also doing some tasks online with others in a similar way they would in class such as group discussions.
  • Increased independence: Although there were clearly some students who struggled to manage their time, several commented that they enjoyed the opportunity to further develop their independence and self management skills.
The most common negatives were:
  • Too much work: There was significant feedback from the students explaining they were feeling overwhelmed across the board with how much work they were needing to complete. Some felt they were being asked to complete more than when we were at school!
  • Lack of motivation: This was evident throughout the 6+ weeks. Due to the comfort of their own home, distractions, lack of self management and/or feeling overwhelmed (and who knows what other reasons!), there were lots of students who struggled to motivate themselves to complete their learning. This lack of motivation is what concerns me the most - have we now got an even bigger divide between the students who are ahead and the students who are falling behind?
  • Less 1:1 time with the teacher: I found this hard too. Much less opportunity for face to face feedback, and less 'teachable moments'. It seems many struggled not being able to ask questions as often, or able to seek immediate feedback. I don't know how they expected us to reply to their emails instantly though! (Certainly an admin nightmare, that I didn't enjoy!)
I previously posted about the things I was enjoying about online teaching and learning. They mostly related to student creativity and having those 1:1 chats with the kids. I plan to continue to provide opportunities for them to be creative where possible, and of course being online has made me rethink/be creative about the ways I can teach too! I would also like to try and continue some of the positives from lockdown (from my own experience, in addition to student feedback);
  • In class flexibility: I certainly enjoyed having a less regimented timetable, and it's clear the students did too. I will be giving opportunities for my Senior classes to develop their self management, and choosing how they utilise their time. If they want to work on another subject, then they can... here's hoping that doesn't backfire! This also relates to Ako Orewa, and the importance of students prioritising tasks/ deciding what is important to complete at that time and working at their own pace.
  • Knowing ahead of time what's happening: I always gave a vague plan of what was happening in the few lessons to come before home learning, but didn't always upload the actual activities or tasks they were going to complete. I am going to try give students time to check out what they are doing before class, so they are more aware of where we are heading.
  • Some time not related to work: A few students commented on the enjoyment they found from watching movies that reinforced or showed what they were learning about, or having quizzes and games with other students, or just general chat. I think sometimes with the pressure of NCEA, the pressure of time, the pressure for students to do well, we sometimes forget that they are kids. That they want to connect, share, reflect, analyse and sometimes they need a break. Just like we do.
Like many, I have felt nervous being back at school the last 10 days. Like online learning, it's going to take a bit of adjustment to get back into a routine, but we will get there! 

Friday, 8 May 2020

Online Teaching & Learning: It's not all bad!

I cannot believe we've already been online teaching for 5 weeks (and home for nearly 7). But to be honest, despite missing the kids, I have really enjoyed the experience. I've got a newfound appreciation for face to face learning though, that's for sure! And I have absolutely hated staring at a screen answering myriad emails.

There have been so many positives of at home teaching though. I thought I would post some of the highlights for me during this period so far.

Creating rewindable video content for students

Setting at home challenges for my Ako class and watching the videos they've created 'together'

Students engaging/commenting in the chat box of Google Meet during video calls 
(I honestly think this learning environment has given the opportunity for more students to have a 'voice' than when we are in a standard classroom setting, it has been great to have people share, who usually don't speak!)

Seeing the creations from my Topic class (integrated)
 

Lino-it brainstorms with my Year 11s

A shared Google Slides resource my Year 12s all contributed to


Having 1:1 chats with my Year 13s about their internal 
(They were more organised than we have these chats in class, as they feared awkward silences!)

As much as I'm looking forward to getting back to school, back into routine and back to connecting with colleagues and students, I've tried to take the positives out of online teaching. Hopefully only one more week to go, but I'm quite happy not having a commute and enjoy having an extra couple of hours sleep each morning!

Monday, 4 May 2020

Ako: To Teach & To Learn

In addition to the roll out of an integrated curriculum this year, there has been an inclusion of two non-curriculum related classes; Ako and Mai time. Mai time was developed to give students an opportunity to create passion projects around something of their choice. This means the students can develop skills and learn about things that are of particular interest to them. Ako time was developed for 4 key reasons;
  1. Increase awareness of topics and learning
  2. Improve student self confidence and social confidence
  3. Reflection on Mai time projects and progress
  4. Increased understanding of student levels and progress (see more here)
Therefore, I can include any activities within my lessons which help to develop/work towards these four aims. I love Ako time!! I think it is fantastic there are opportunities for students to develop practical, social and theoretical skills which they may have had little time to develop prior to this year. One of which is the ability to reflect. Each Friday morning students reflect on the week that has been - what they completed in each of their classes, what they found difficult, what they enjoyed and what their next steps are. See below the template for the learning journal my students (are supposed to!) complete each week (I can't believe it's already Week 12/18!). 


Some of my personal highlights from Ako lessons include listening activities, an activity about values and being open-minded, and student created games.

I had noticed, and had feedback from some students, that this group struggles to listen. It was taking a long time to get their attention to give instructions, once it was nearly 7 minutes!! As a result, we had a couple of lessons focused around listening. We played Chinese whispers, completed the Life with the Wright family activity and played Draw It (a simple game where you give step by step instructions of what to draw, and between each instruction the students pass their paper to someone else). The students started to become  frustrated with each other when someone wasn't listening, and started to empathise for their teachers and peers when they were trying to speak! Their listening definitely improved after this.

To encourage students to think about other people's perspectives, and challenge their own values and opinions, we completed the classic Sinking Ship activity below. I had planned for this activity to last about 20 minutes, but there was so much positive debate and discussion it ended up being nearly an hour! With some guidance, by the end of the activity the students were much more respectful of each other's opinions (still a way to go, but small steps!), and gave each other time to say their thoughts.


Finally, the students got into small groups and created mini games to teach and play with one another. I gathered a random assortment of equipment and gave each of the groups tokens to use in an equipment auction. They then had only 30 minutes to create a game they could run for 15 minutes with two other groups in the class! I was pretty blown away by some of the creativity the kids had, with minimal resources and not a lot of time. General feedback was that they enjoyed this activity too, so definitely something that will be repeated in the future!


Only a few days before lockdown I asked the students to complete a feedback form for me to gauge their understanding of their topics and what they are enjoying/not enjoying about school and Ako. There were a few common themes as outlined in the visual alongside - things they like about Ako, things they dislike and suggestions they made. I look forward to implementing some of this feedback into future lessons when we are back at school. At the moment it's really not the same!

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Engaging Students From Afar!

Last night I attended a webinar called Supporting student motivation and engagement when learning from home, facilitated by The Education Hub and Harry Fletcher-Wood. If you are wanting to watch the recording of this webinar, you can access it here. This webinar was good timing for two reasons; I'd already been looking into motivation and engagement (see blogpost here), and we are back into online learning after one week before the holidays. The two things I left thinking more about, and two things I could put into action immediately, was that less is more, and to use the chat box to encourage students to share - give them opportunities to respond

We are using Google Meet with our classes. For the most part, I'm keeping myself available at the beginning of lessons for 10-15 minutes to give instructions and answer questions and then again for the last 10-15 minutes if students need further help or to have a debrief. This morning though, I wanted to have some deep 'discussion' with my Year 12s, in an attempt to replicate what we'd do if we were at school.

We started to discuss gender and sexuality stereotypes. I would ask a question such as when you think of male or masculine occupations, what do you think? Then students would post into the chat box what they were thinking, and as their comments came through I would read it, and then ask follow up questions. Even though I was the only one talking, the students were actively engaging in 'discussion' through this chat box - it gave everyone a voice, and to be honest there were WAY more voices heard (obviously not literally) than if we were in the classroom!

Secondly, we keep getting reminded that less is more, that we can't expect students to be able to meet the same expectations and complete the same amount of tasks as if we were at school, that we need to prioritise key learning we want the students to retain. After the stereotypes discussion, showing them a prerecorded video I'd made (which included reading a picture book!), and then an adaptation of a human continuum (displaying numbers on their video (could have just used fingers) to represent their opinions on a statement I gave, such as it's embarrassing for males to cry in public), I'd had 26 students actively involved for an hour. I was absolutely stoked!!! So, even though there was still half an hour left, and I had another activity planned, there had already been rich 'discussions' and I felt the students had learnt a lot, so I called it there and told them to go and have a cuppa! I decided to stay on if anyone wanted a general chat, and for half an hour 6 students stayed and conversed with me and each other about their isolation experiences so far!

As we navigate this unusual time, we are learning a lot as teachers, as partners, as colleagues and a lot about ourselves. In addition to these two considerations, remember to maintain your connections and relationships with your students, don't try to recreate the wheel, and help the students to develop study habits/ a routine!

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Teacher Wellbeing & Manaaki Orewa

During the holidays I was involved in an online wellbeing workshop facilitated by PPTA and Worksafe Reps. The overall aims of the workshop were to develop greater understanding of how to increase positive workplaces and what bullying and harassment actually is. To sign up to one of these workshops, as there are several more, please see more info here.

I created the alongside sketchnote throughout the workshop, summarising some of the key things I took away from the session. The things that left me thinking. Overall, I was naturally left pondering my own teacher wellbeing. More specifically, what am I doing to balance my own bucket? How am I helping my colleagues to balance theirs? Is there any more I can be doing to show the importance of teacher wellbeing? 

I feel that taha tinana/physical wellbeing is generally considered to be a more significant risk within health and safety policies, especially for employees. However, it is positive to note how there is a clear shift towards a greater focus on the other dimensions of Hāuora in NZ (and globally), particularly taha hinengaro/mental & emotional wellbeing. This was evident in the Positive Education conference I attended last year, and lately in the national budget from our government. 

At the end of the workshop we were asked what action we were going to take, after learning and reflecting throughout the day. Because I was thinking frequently throughout the day about our school values, Manaaki Orewa, and how these support student wellbeing, I thought I could create a visual to be shared with the staff related to the values and teacher wellbeing. Manaaki Orewa (Respect Myself, Respect Others & Respect the Environment) is embedded within the school culture of Orewa College, but is often discussed more specifically around how the students can display Manaaki. Hopefully this is shared around our staff and can become a print that is displayed in teacher spaces as a small reminder!

Clearly, putting up this visual around school, and implementing some of these strategies for teacher wellbeing won't be able to happen until we are back at school though. During this time of uncertainty, the lines of work and home are even more blurred than usual. Maintaining our own wellbeing is incredibly important for the safety and welfare of ourselves, our whānau and our students. 

If you would like to read more about self care and wellbeing whilst at home (and some general tips), see some of the below microblogs shared by Andy Milne for #microblogweek.

Three Tips for Self-Care as an Educator (Pran Patel)

Looking For Sticks (Mel Hamada)

Managing Your Self-Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic (Mary Jo Geddes)

Shoot For The Moon (Andy Milne)

Making Lemonade (Brenda Carbery-Tang)

Don't forget - be kind to each other, but be kind to yourself too!

Monday, 30 March 2020

Student Engagement & Motivation: A Few Tips!

Although there is significant research/evidence/readings about engagement and motivation individually, there is also an clear link between the two. I'm sure many would agree, that students are likely to be more motivated in the classroom to complete tasks, asks for help, aim for success, if they are engaged in their learning. This seems obvious, but unfortunately can be easier said than done to achieve. I am struggling to motivate some students, struggling to engage some students, and struggling to motivate AND engage others. As a result, I decided to complete some research on tips to increase student engagement and motivation.

For your reference, these are the articles and videos I read/watched and have summarised;

Key Points Related to Engagement:
  • Provide students with a sense of ownership
  • Give opportunities for student choice
  • Use activities that promote curiosity
  • It's important to build connections between home and school (see how I'm trying to create positive connections here)
  • Give explanations/insight into why the students are learning those things/completing those tasks, the bigger picture
  • Learning needs to be adaptable to reflect differences in student needs
  • Include tasks that encourage group work and collaboration

Key Points Related to Motivation:
  • Teacher expectations need to be positive, high and realistic (see high expectations blogpost here)
  • Quality of Knowledge > Quantity of Knowledge
  • "Students' motivation is strongest when they believe they are socially accepted by teachers and peers and their school environment is fair, trustworthy and centred on concern for everyone's welfare." (The Education Hub) 
  • Make links between the learning, and students' overall/ongoing goals
  • Students need to feel confident that they can meet the level of challenge and have the skills needed for a task, in order to feel they can be successful
  • Rather than comparing to others, encourage students to focus on personal improvement
  • Provide ongoing, reinforcing, positive feedback
  • Actually discuss what motivation is, why it is important and what strategies can be employed to increase motivation

 

A quote to finish, from Rob's YouTube video, that left me thinking...

"When things are too dull and too easy, the students get bored. And we know that when the work is too difficult, and too confusing, the students get frustrated. Both of these situations led to students switching off..."

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Teachers, A Tip: You Can Always Be Better!

This week during our department meeting, we had a rapid PD on 'reflective practice'. This article delves more deeply into what reflective teaching actually is, which I recommend reading whether you are a student teacher, or you've been in the profession for years! Spalding describes reflective teaching as "a more systematic process of collecting, recording and analysing a teacher's thoughts and observations, as well as those of their students, and then going on to making changes". According to Dylan William, reflective practice is important because every teacher can improve.

I feel confident I am already quite reflective, but I enjoyed and appreciated having the time in this meeting to briefly dissect and discuss our integrated curriculum so far. I plan on writing a more detailed reflection on Topic 2, the integrated course I was part of creating and am now teaching, in a couple of weeks.

The task we were given, visible below, was to identify possible gaps in students' learning, what helps and stops student learning and finally strategies moving forward to support these students. The overall consensus of our discussion was that the integrated curriculum is positive, but naturally there is some fine tweaking to be addressed, such as the need to increase student self confidence, reduce students feeling overwhelmed and the balance of student centred learning and teacher-directed learning. I have identified and briefly described three strategies I am going to try implement into my integrated topic, in hope to address some of the tweaking aforementioned!

Sunday, 15 March 2020

Just Keep Swimming, Swimming, Swimming!

One of my favourite units to teach is the resilience unit in Year 12 Health. The purpose of the unit is for the students to become more aware of some of the risk and protective factors that are present in our lives (things that make it more difficult and things that help you to be resilient when you are faced with a difficult change respectively), and to learn different strategies to implement to increase one's resilience. Two years ago, while I was teaching this unit for the first time, I was needing to be quite resilient myself. I wrote this post exploring some resources I read/watched related to resiliency. I also was a guest blogger for #slowchathealth last year, emphasising that mental health is not equal to mental illness...

Last year for the first time, I had an outside speaker come into my Year 12 class, Zac Franich, to share his story. The students responded incredibly well to this. They were attentive and respectful, and I think many developed greater empathy - which is a major goal for the unit. I want the students to develop a greater understanding of what people may be facing day to day, when they may have no knowledge that they are facing that. I want them to have more sympathy for others when they are sharing their stories - even if to them that story does not seem like a big deal, as for some it may be a massive deal. To actually feel empathetic, even if they are a stranger. 

As a result of the great response to having a guest speaker, I decided to develop most of the learning around risk and protective factors through several speakers this year. We have had 7 people visit us and share their stories when they've needed to manage changes in their lives (5 in school and 2 from outside). Their stories have varied from more low level  scenario such as being left in a flat on their own with no money to pay the rent, to an extreme of a family member murdered. Because the speakers used up a lot of class time I asked the students for their thoughts on having this many. Every student valued having a range of guest speakers, to hear about the things they have been challenged by, and many commented on enjoying such a variety of stories - so we will definitely be repeating that in the future!

Some of the strategies we have practiced as a class (whilst having access to no devices) has been socialising through games (such as Jenga and Last Card), mindfulness/visualisation scripts, colouring in/drawing, creating stressful day to do lists to come back to and sleeping. Yes, I give my students time to have a nap in class! In addition I have shared further places students can learn more or access further support, such as The Lowdown and Reach Out. As a class, we also brainstormed some other strategies we can use to help ourselves or others when feeling down or stressed or facing a big change in our lives.



For the assessment, many schools ask students to interview someone and then describe their risk and protective factors and explain the strategies they used. Instead of this, at Orewa the students develop their own characters through a series of diary entries. I really enjoy reading these entries, because most of the students are quite creative and craft some amazing stories. Slightly less than a quarter of the students said they would have preferred to interview someone instead of creating their own character because that would be 'more real life', so possibly in the future the students could have a choice. Especially because there were ample opportunities to chat with the speakers in class. 

The students write and submit their internal this week, so it'll be interesting to see what their results are like, after such positive feedback and high engagement in class. I'm particularly interested to compare this year's results to last year's, as this is the target unit for 2020 to increase achievement. For the mean time, check out some of the students' comments below! I'm especially proud of comments related to feeling comfortable and supported in the class. And as Dory sings, "just keep swimming!"


Friday, 24 January 2020

The Shift Has Arrived - Chaos Ahead!

Throughout 2019, we were in groups of 6 to create an integrated unit for 2020. I briefly explained in this post what my PLG's initial ideas were. The last two CallBack Days have been dedicated to meeting who we will be co-teaching with, and getting comfortable with the units we will be teaching. It's crazy how far we have come - we are starting to teach the units next week!! 

Our school is having quite a shift this year, and it's super exciting. Not only are we integrating curriculum areas at Years 9 & 10, the timetable is also changing and we are introducing Mai Time and Ako teachers. Moving from 5 periods days and a 10 day cycle, to 4 blocks a day and a 5 day cycle means we actually see the students an extra half an hour per week (Juniors and Seniors), which is great! Mai Time and Ako blocks are included in the timetable for Juniors - given the same amount of time as curriculum units. Put simply, Mai is an opportunity for students to be physically active and also time to create their own passion projects/inquiries. Ako is a mentoring system designed to support students with self management, how they learn, and progress towards goals (kind of like School Mum!). Later in the term I'll blog more detail about Mai and Ako, as they grow a little more.

The unit my PLG developed comes under the umbrella value of respect, and is the sexuality unit for Health integrated with Digital Technology and English. There are 5 modules (Hāuora, Pubertal Changes, Communication, Relationships, Drugs & Alcohol) throughout the course. Students will have checklists for each of the modules full of resources and tasks to complete. Ultimately, by the end of Week 12, they will have created a 5 page website to demonstrate their understanding of the content/skills/tools within the checklists for all 3 curriculum areas. Throughout these 12 weeks, we (the 3 teachers) will be floating around 75 students to give them feedback and have learning conversations, and host mini tutorials - the onus is handed over to the kids entirely!

Week 13 we have calendared a 'catch-up' week. As we are assessing against the achievement objectives (see 2019 trail here) frequently throughout the modules, by this point we should have a good understanding how the students are progressing. This week is to encourage students to increase their levels for their achievement objectives (for any or all of the curriculum areas), and to determine the final 5 weeks. 

If students are sitting at a Level 2 - Level 3 of the curriculum, they will be required to review their website pages to increase depth and demonstrate greater understanding. If they are a Level 4 across the board, the students will be given an extensive list of inquiry ideas they can choose to investigate (which will supplement learning in a curriculum area of their choice). Our most academic students who are already a Level 5, will design their own inquiry project. The project will need to be related in some way to one of the 5 module topics previously explored, and the students are required to explain which 2 achievement objectives their project will demonstrate.

I would be lying if I said I am feeling 100% confident. I'm honestly feeling a little apprehensive. What if the kids don't do anything with all of this freedom? What if I clash with my co-teachers? What if there are students who fall through the cracks? What if they aren't getting depth in their learning? Am am void now?? BUT I am also incredibly excited to be involved in this shift, I think it's an amazing opportunity for the students AND the teachers. We will be learning new skills and content from the other curriculum areas, and also further developing skills including collaboration, empathy and problem solving. Bring on the organised chaos!

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Authentic Learning > Exam Results

Preparing students for exams is really difficult. I have a lot of empathy for teachers who need to prep their students for multiple exam papers, and have multiple exam filled classes - I only have one class and one paper!

When I taught the Level 2 Health course for the first time in 2018, I needed to teach and prepare students to be tested on two topics - we didn't know which one they were going to get. The exam requires students to identify and explain the possible influences of and consequences from an adolescent health issue, and to then suggest health-enhancing strategies to reduce the issue. 

In 2018 the topics were body image or managing conflict in relationships. Although there are some obvious overlaps in the topics, they are quite different. As a result, in the short period of time we had to learn the content, the structure and revise the exam, I felt I was teaching to the assessment. An assessment that I didn't even know what it was going to ask! This sad reality meant that I didn't feel there was much authentic learning for this cohort of students, as I was so focused on wanting them to feel the most prepared they could for their exam. Although of course success in exams is important, authentic learning is considerably more important in my opinion... so I hated accepting how assessment driven these couple of months pre exam were. 

I was delighted when the assessment specifications changed for 2019, to only have one topic (stress from social media). The students still needed to understand and practice the structure of the exam and how to annotate the scenario and resources - but now we had considerable more time to prepare, double! Having much more time meant there was ample opportunity for lessons and activities, but not specifically exam related. We watched plenty of clips, read articles, completed experiments, took quizzes, had debates; all things that highlighted how stress from social media is an issue but didn't always connect back to the exam itself. From the conversations I had with the students, and the observations I made, I feel there were genuine learning experiences for the students in this 2019 class. That they actually took away some tools, skills and information they could come back to in the future when interacting on social media.

Surprisingly though, the exam results are much the same between the two cohorts. I was hoping with greater depth of understanding about the topic, there would be a greater increase in Merits and Excellences, but they are similar. Thankfully I feel they took away a lot more learning!! This year I may need to have higher expectations of how many practice exams students write for instance, and be more actively involved in their study time. Last year the students requested a few periods to self manage their own study, but I feel most didn't utilise this time (even when given 2-4 options of things to do during this time!). So more regimented study time may be needed.


Something to note that is interesting, is the profiles of expected performance for this exam in 2019. Even though I feel a little disheartened the grades are much the same between my classes, my 2019 class actually sat higher than the predicted results, particularly for Achieved and Merits. Despite being a tiny fragment of a large body of students, this a little comforting to see - and may mean some of them were actually scaled down.

Finally, these graphs do not take into consideration the students who did not show up for their exam. Empty papers and seeing 'absent' on their academic records, was a little heartbreaking after the time and effort poured into the students. I have no clue how to reduce this issue. I can't control if they show up or not and there is no consequence/penalty/followup if they don't. Thankfully though, the number of no shows from my class reduced from 4 in 2018 to 2 in 2019. Fingers crossed this number is 0 at the end of 2020 - We have an extra hour for each class per fortnight with our change in timetable this year, so hopefully even more time will help with this goal!