Archive for June, 2010

Yesterday I visited two Catholic Education Office, Sydney schools, Immaculate Heart of Mary Sefton and St Brendan’s Bankstown. As  schools located in low socio-economic areas, they are participating in the National Partnership Agreement program. 

We have designed an implemented a teacher educator model in response to this program. This allows an “expert” teacher to work in each of the NPA schools (there are 20 such schools, some being system not government funded) to focus on building teacher capacity. After only two terms, I can already see the huge impact this model has had in building teacher and school capacity to improve student learning.

My visit to the schools was primarily to collect film and photo footage for our upcoming elearning professional development program, ESL Matters. What a great experience this proved to be!! Here are some of the fabulous learning experiences I witnessed.

  • a highly differentiated Yr 5 maths lesson with the students using a variety of elearning tools in small groups
  • an engaging multisensory exploration of a Yr 2 HSIE unit, Past and Present, with children directing and negotiating their own learning through structured investigations
  • a group of students participating in a hands-on intensive ESL lesson that was linked to the mainstream program about Australia’s history (their understanding of how language works, at their stage of second language acquisition, was phenomenal!!)
  • a Teacher Educator modelling a shared reading lesson in Yr 3 with students engaging in richly designed, academically challenging learning tasks
  • a vivacious group of kindergarten students, new to English, who were happily participating in a variety of songs and language games
  • a primary group of students having great fun negotiating a moving parachute – so much fun!!

So thanks you to the teachers and students of both schools. Brilliant!!!!!

To the TEs I have worked with this year – congratulations on a job well done. We have more to do next term so rest up!

To Monica at Sefton, thanks for your generosity yesterday during my visit. If your keyboard is anything to go by, you surely deserve a good holiday!!!!

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Watch this!

I saw this ad on ABC’s Gruen Transfer. Brilliant!

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 (Photo: ABC News online)

Today Julia Gillard was chosen to lead the Australian Labor party as Prime Minister-elect. First female Australian PM. It is inspiring to see a female in such a position of power. But as Eva Cox said in an interview in the Sydney Morning Herald today, it would be preferable for a female to win the position outright rather than coming in to clean up a mess left behind by another (male) leader.

I just watched her press conference. In response to a question about asylum seekers entering Australia, she seemed to indicate that she will be following a hard-line on the issue, moreso than Kevin Rudd.

She chose her language carefully but clearly stressed that she understood the anxiety of the Australian public about how many asylum seekers were entering the “sanctuary” of Australia. I have an anxiety that the “new” federal government will be using this issue for poitical expediancy. Easy to demonise asylum seekers for political gain. I also have an anxiety that they will not be treated fairly as is their right under international law recognised by the Australian govenment.  Apparently.

Are you listening to my anxiety Julia?

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Go Michelle!

One of the fabulous Teacher Educators that I am privileged to work with, has begun her own blog St Mel’s TE blog. Michelle’s role as Teacher Educator, is to focus purely on building teacher capacity in the school she which  is based. This is a multi-faceted role, a first for our system thanks to the federal government’s National Partnerships program.

One of the initiatives we are encouraging is for the TEs to engage with web 2.0 tools in networking with each other and the teachers at their respective schools. Putting aside the frustrations we all experience with infrastructure for technology, many TEs are taking up the challenge.

So Michelle, Go Girl!

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I was having breakfast at a local cafe with friends on Sunday, when a huge photo on the front page of a Sydney paper caught my eye. While I am a sports nut, I don’t follow rugby league and nor do my friends. But we all know who Matthew Andrew Johns is. So we wondered why his anguished face was dominating the news.

He apparently called a Queensland rugby league player a very racist name based on colour. Another player of indigenous background,  Timanu Tahu, who is a friend of the player concerned,  rightly took offence at this language. Tahu subsequently pulled out of the team concerned.

For him, it was a culmination of racist behaviour directed at him and other players of non-caucasion background. He is standing up for his beliefs that racism should not be tolerated. He acknowledges that this is  important for the children who follow the game, as he and other players are role models.

I stand and applaud him.

I must admit, I wasn’t surprised that racism is alive and well in rugby league. Probably is in other sports as well. (Soccer World Cup for instance?!) Nor was I surprised at how angry and disgusted I felt.

What did surprise me was how a story in another paper today, connected to this racist incident, personally evoked strong emotion as I read it.

Timanu Tahu’s stepfather was an indigenous police officer in NSW. He stood up to racist behaviour by his Police colleagues in Bourke, a largely indigenous town in outback NSW, and as a result, he was subject to bullying and abuse by some of these colleagues. Eventually, his career stalled. His family suffered greatly. As a youngster, to witness this as Timanu did, must have been terrifying.

Enough is enough. So sad that in 2010 racism is alive and well particularly in sports that pretend to be role models for children. As the theme this year for Reconciliation Australia stated

Are we there yet?

Obviously not.

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Go Socceroos!

The Socceroos World Cup campaign kicks off later tonight against Germany.  As much as I’d like to get up at 4.30 am and go to my local cafe – so many are opening at 4am!!! – and watch it, I won’t!

Go Socceroos!

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More great resources to help celebrate Refugee Week – UNCHR Refugee Agency

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Refugee week is nearly here! In Australia it beings on June 20.  Basically Refugee week is about

  • promoting understanding of refugees and asylum seekers; and
  • celebrating the contributions and achievements of people who have experienced life as a refugee.

If you are a teacher like me, Refugee Week is important  considering the misinformation that is often promoted in the community and across the media. As Nelson Mandela says,

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

The Refugee Council of Australia has some great resources for teachers and the general public. I think everyone should read the Myths about Refugees. Any of these myths ring a bell?

Boat people are illegal immigrants!

Wrong. They are not illegal and they are not immigrants. They have a lawful right to enter a Australia if they are seeking asylum.

Boat people are queue jumpers!

Wrong. Again. That’s not how it works. Australia’s Refugee program has an onshore and an offshore component. Onshore is for those who apply for refugee status after arriving in Australia. A person has to leave their country before they can apply for asylum. Get it? This is standard procedure in many countries. Offshore is where recognized refugees from UN programs are resettled in Australia. And, no, they don’t queue for resettlement. There is no such thing as a queue as part of this process. So how can asylum seekers  jump it?

Asylum seekers who arrive in boats take places away from genuine refugees in overseas camps.

No. Wrong again. ALL refugees, whether they arrive by boat or via UN programs or other means are GENUINE if they meet the criteria for refugees. How they arrived here is irrelevant.

Check out the other Myths for yourself. The are a  great read!

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 “I can’t believe how much I have found out about my students!!”

Teacher Educator quoting a classroom teacher after using the ESL Scales to assess their ESL students.


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