Saturday, 17 September 2016

What's up in my world... (Current issues in my professional context)

The relief that was felt in our staffroom in November 2014 was immense.  We received our decile rating change - dropping from a 4 to 1B.  It wasn't the money side of things that we were relieved about (although we knew that would be great!), it was the multitude of programmes that we were now eligible for that got us most excited - KidsCan, Duffy books, Fruit in Schools for starters.  We knew that "our kids" needed extra help to achieve their potential.
Our students receiving jackets from KidsCan and the
NZ Warriors (Wed 24 Aug 2016)

One of the most pressing issues facing our school currently is the low attendance rates across the school.  Over the past 3 terms, attendance rates have been monitored with term averages for classes being between 80 - 90%, and a few students with attendance rates below 70%.  To begin countering this issue we have put the following ideas into action:

  • building positive relationships with parents and whanau
  • Being involving in programmes,such as Kids Can, Fruit in Schools, Milk in Schools
  • extrinsic motivation, in the form of "prizes" for attending school each day for a week
  • senior students (Years 5 - 8) and parents being made aware of how much school they have missed through conversations, letters home
  • investigating different teaching pedagogies and learning styles that will engage students
APA (2016) states that students from low SES households and communities develop academic skills at a lower rate than those from higher SES households/communities.  This is one reason why the current attendance rates are so alarming.  Not only are our students missing out on learning opportunities, but research has showed that they may have delays in their learning. 

Alongside of the attendance issue, we also have a high level of transience.  Just under half of our school roll have started at our school within the last 12 months.  These are not 5 year olds - these students are spread throughout our classes from Year 1 through to Year 8.  The high rent within the Auckland housing market is one reason behind students moving.  Within the past 3 terms I have had two students from my class having to move out of their houses due to the landlords selling.  Luckily these students are still about to continue to come to our school - but with a significant distance to travel.  

Snook and O'Neill (2014) discuss the varying opinions on the correlation of students SES and their educational achievement.  I somewhat agree that some students who have grown up in a low SES household are disadvantaged when they begin their formal education.  These students may not have the chance to participate in extra curricular activities that broaden student's learning opportunities.  

As their teacher, I believe that it is part of my responsibility to ensure that their time in our class is full of learning experiences that cover all curriculum areas and expose the students to different ways of learning.  While in my class I want all of 'my kids' to be engaged and motivated to learn, I want them to want to come to school everyday.  Unfortunately the high transience levels are something that is out of our hands, however I believe that if students are settled, achieving to their potential and are enjoying going to school, parents will try to keep their children in the school.



References
APA. (2016). Education and Socioeconomic Status. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pi/ses/resources/publications/education.aspx

Snook, I. & O'Neill, J. (2014). Poverty and inequality of educational achievement. In V. Carpenter & S. Osborne. (Eds).  Twelve Thousand Hours: Education and Poverty in Aotearoa New Zealand (pp. 19-43) Auckland, New Zealand:Dunmore Publishing