School improvement 

While working on our School improvement strategy I had a few challenges to face.  Our school decided to go back to our traditions and we started in the hostel by reapplying stricter rules and guidelines,  while establishing trusted routines.  The current generation of learners now feel that it is cruel.  

Are having high expectations of achievement and behaviour in learners cruel? No.   They are simply what parents pay thousands for in private schools all over the world. This would mean that any institution supporting sustained and successful learning should be considered cruel.  

It should not be that difficult to replicate the success of other schools that already follow this strategy. Our sister school definitely has a long established successful track record. Almost every city in the country already has schools like this, they just aren’t open to everybody. It should be an aim to create a state comprehensive with this sort of ethos in every local authority.

We need to stop accepting that working class kids cannot behave. It really isn’t true. They just need help and support. We need to acknowledge how many schools including our own routinely excuse the unacceptable.

Change is never easy but success is worth it.  

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NTA standards? 

This year was the third AND LAST time I participated in the National teaching awards event held annually in South Africa.  

Some of my friends may assume it is because of the humiliation I suffered at the provincial gala event…  But it’s not.  

I feel that I’m not a good teacher.  

Yes I am very involved in the classroom administration , with management and in school development,  yet I am falling short in the one area that matters.  

I am failing my students.  No matter how hard I try, I cannot keep up good results in standardised tests.  

  • I have provided my learners with workbooks that is a summary of all the work the syllabus guidelines provide, yet they do not understand the core concepts of Life Science .  
  • I provide them with revision plans dividing work into small portions to study three times a week.  Yet they fail at the basic terminology tests.  
  • I work through old exam papers with them, showing them where the pitfalls are, yet they cannot remember basic instructions like “start each question on a new page”  –  even after five years in highschool! 
  • I guide my learners through the science Expo using the Scientific method –  yet they still don’t understand the difference between an aim and a Hypothesis.  

Is there anyone out there that can give me some guidelines on how to fix this?  Help will be appreciated! 

IQMS

Integrated Quality Management System 

PERFORMANCE STANDARD : 1. CREATION OF A POSITIVE ENVIRONMENT

EXPECTATION:           The educator creates a positive learning environment that enables the learners to participate actively and to achieve success in the learning process

QUESTION:                Does the educator create a suitable environment and climate for learning and   teaching?

CRITERIA:

  1. (a) Learning Space;
  2. (b) Learner involvement;
  3. (c) Discipline;
  4. (d) Diversity

PERFORMANCE STANDARD : 2.KNOWLEDGE OF CURRICULUM AND LEARNING PROGRAMMES

EXPECTATION:           The educator possesses appropriate content knowledge which is demonstrated in the creation of a meaningful learning experiences.

QUESTION:                Does the educator demonstrate adequate knowledge of the learning area or subject  and does he/she use this knowledge effectively to create meaningful experiences for learners?

CRITERIA:

  1. (a) Knowledge of learning area;
  2. (b) Skills;
  3. (c) Goal Setting;
  4. (d) Involvement in learning programmes

PERFORMANCE STANDARD : 3.  LESSON PLANNING PREPERATION AND PRESENTATION

EXPECTATION:           The educator demonstrates competence in planning preparation, presentation and management of learning programmes.

QUESTION:                Is lesson planning clear, logical and sequential and is there evidence that individual lesson fit into a broader learning programme?

CRITERIA:

  1. (a) Planning;
  2. (b) Presentation;
  3. (c) Recording;
  4. (d) Management of learning Programmes

PERFORMANCE STANDARD : 4.  LEARNER ASSESSMENT/ACHIEVEMENT

EXPECTATION:           The educator demonstrates competence in monitoring and assessing learner progress and achievement.

QUESTION:                Is assessment used in order to promote teaching and learning?

CRITERIA:

  1. (a) Feedback to learners;
  2. (b) Knowledge of assessment techniques;
  3. (c) Application of techniques;
  4. (d) Record keeping

 PERFORMANCE STANDARD : 5. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN FIELD OF WORK/CAREER AND PARTICIPATION IN PROFESSIONAL BODIES

EXPECTATION:           The educator engages in professional development activities which are demonstrated in his willingness to acquire new knowledge and additional skills.

QUESTION:                Does the educator participate in professional growth activities?

CRITERIA:

  1. (a) Participation in professional development;
  2. (b) Participation in professional bodies;
  3. (c) Knowledge of education issues;
  4. (d) Attitude to professional development

PERFORMANCE STANDARD : 6.  HUMAN RELATIONS AND CONTRIBUTION TO SCHOOL DEVELOPMENT

EXPECTATION:           The educator engages in appropriate interpersonal relationships with learners, parents and staff and contributes to the development of the school.

QUESTION:                Does the educator create and maintain sound human relations with colleagues and learners?

CRITERIA:

  1. (a) Learners needs;
  2. (b) Human relationship skills;
  3. (c) Interaction;
  4. (d) Co-operation

PERFORMANCE STANDARD : 7.  EXTRA-CURRICULAR AND C0-CURRICULAR PARTICIPATION

EXPECTATION:           Educator participates in extra-curricular and co-curricular activities in such a way that it supplements the learning process and leads to the holistic development of learners.

QUESTION:                Does the educator participate in extra curricular and co-curricular activities and is s/he involved with the administration of these activities?

CRITERIA:

  1. (a) Involvement;
  2. (b) Holistic development;
  3. (c) Leadership and coaching;
  4. (d) Organisation and administration

PERFORMANCE STANDARD : 8.  ADMINISTRATION OF RESOURCES AND RECORDS

EXPECTATION:           Educator administers resources and records in an effective and efficient manner to enable the smooth functioning of the institution.

QUESTION:                Does the quality of administration contribute to building an effective institution?

CRITERIA:

  1. (a) Utilisation of resources;
  2. (b) Instructions;
  3. (c) Record keeping;
  4. (d) Maintenance of infrastructure;
  5. (e) Circulars

PERFORMANCE STANDARD : 9.  PERSONNEL

EXPECTATION:           Manages and develops personnel in such a way that the vision and mission of the institution are accomplished.

QUESTION:                Does s/he manage staff by applying the principles of democracy?

CRITERIA:

  1. (a) Pastoral Care;
  2. (b) Staff development;
  3. (c) Provision of leadership;
  4. (d) Building commitment and confidence

PERFORMANCE STANDARD : 10.  DECISION MAKING AND ACCOUNTABILITY

EXPECTATION:           The educator establishes procedures that enable democratic decision-making and accountability within the institution.

QUESTION:                Does the educator establish structures that enable/ensure active participation by all stakeholders in decision making processes and are there clear lines of accountability?

CRITERIA:

  1. (a) Stakeholder involvement;
  2. (b) Decision making;
  3. (c) Accountability/responsibility;
  4. (d) Motivation
  5. (e) Objectivity/ fairness

PERFORMANCE STANDARD : 11.  LEADERSHIP, COMMUNICATION AND SERVICING THE GOVERNING BODY

EXPECTATION:           The educator demonstrates/has well-developed leadership qualities.

QUESTION:                Is the educator able to take the lead and act decisively in terms of properties and   opportunities?

CRITERIA:

  1. (a) Leadership;
  2. (b) Support;
  3. (c) Communication;
  4. (d) Systems
  5. (e) Commitment and confidence
  6. (f) Initiative, creative

PERFORMANCE STANDARD : 12.  STRATEGIC PLANNING, FINANCIAL PLANNING AND EMD

EXPECTATION:           The educator displays competence in planning and education management           development.

QUESTION:                Does the manager administer the different management processes efficiently and   effectively?

CRITERIA:

  1. (a) Strategic planning;
  2. (b) Financial planning;
  3. (c) Project management;
  4. (d) Communication

CRITERIA:                  (a) Strategic planning;    (b) Financial planning;    (c) Project management;    (d) Communication

2020 Vision

Cultural values

Culture is the sum of learned beliefs, values and customs that regulate the behaviour of members of a particular society. Values are guides of behaviour.

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Branding

Branding is the process involves in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers mind

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The boys high brand

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Vision 2020

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Rodney Seal motivational speaker at Potch Boys High

As part of our School improvement strategy we have invited this amazing speaker who have been travelling to many schools over many decades. 

He specialises in dealing with Drugs and Bullying in school. 

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With humor he gained the attention of the learners and carried over a very important message.

Theme of the day was : are you a backbone or a jawbone. Are you willing to stand up for what is right. Words have tremendous power.

Biggest fear is rejection. He focused on Bullying. I hope that he had touched the lives of these boys.

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He left us with the message to be the best of the best of the best.

Somethings fishy in education

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I have a student in my classroom, I’ll call him Fred. Fred currently has an average of 7% in grade 12. In his mind there is no conceivable way for him to pass his final year. Just like that Fred had wasted 13 years in school.

But Fred is not being blamed for his failure. I am.

Fred’s parents don’t get the blame for a boy who often came to school hungry and then failed to concentrate. I am because I cannot control my classroom; I have to go for discipline training.
They are not taking the blame for a boy who often had to hitch hike from the town over to get to school. I am because why do I allow learners to simply walk into my classroom when they are late and I am teaching? Why don’t I follow the policy?

Fred is not to blame for coming to school without his pens and books. I am because why am I not supplying those learners like him with what they need?

Fred has no self-discipline, no goal for the future, no self-respect, no hope. The system of standardised tests has proven this to him and he has bought into it hook line and sinker. You see the problem here is that Fred the fish was placed on dry land and told to walk. Somewhere in his past a teacher walked past him to show him how it’s done and since then he has been a fish out of water.

There are millions of children just like Fred that we could save with the right kind of testing, tasks and development, so why aren’t we?

The education system is the worst performing business in the world!

Somewhere along Fred’s school career someone killed his dreams. His mind has been enslaved by a system that was designed to teach obedience, from the moment Fred has to stand up straight and wait to be greeted before sitting down and taking out his books.

According to the education business plan, there are plenty of fish in the sea, and we simply need to train them to be interchangeable workers, not inventors and scholars.

Well I want to be the Odd fish! I want to come up with better ideas. I want to be seen as a radical! I want to be a teacher, and educator a facilitator. I want to teach my little fish to swim!

How do I adapt learning and teaching strategies to meet the needs of individual learners effectively?

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  • Use inclusive teaching and learning strategies and promote respect for individuality and diversity

All learners a capable of learning, sometimes it just takes more time, or a different strategy to get the information across. For this reason I use different teaching techniques. 

Primary teaching and Learning methods Effectiveness/Strengths/How it works Challenges
Lecture Useful for large groups and presents factual material in a direct and logical manner. This the traditional way of giving information to the learners and the easiest to prepare for me. Learners copy definitions or point form summaries from the board. Learners are passive and it is not easy to gauge whether learning is taking place
DVD’s It is an entertaining way of teaching content and raising issues and it definitely keeps most of the learners attention. Some learners feel that when the teacher is not talking the content is not important and they would rather sleep
Class discussions Effective after a presentation or DVD and it allows everyone to participate in an active discussion process. Many learners gets involved and takes a stand for or against various topics. Not all learners have the self-confidence to participate and discussions may become time consuming and can sometimes go off track
Worksheets Allows the learner to think for himself without being influenced by others. In my class the worksheets are from past papers and in this way the learners gets experience in answering exam questions. Some learners feel its easier to copy someone’s work than to try it for themselves – they don’t feel up to the challenge
Practical Hands-on-activities Learner acquires knowledge not only verbally but also through discovery and inquiry in an active format. I set up four practical desks with four to five learners in a group and each learner has a task during the practical session Practical work takes time as each learner works at his own pace and as they are still unskilled this often means valuable time can be lost. In some cases learners are afraid of touching the apparatus and may not always want to participate.
Projects Learners acquire a variety of skills including research techniques integrated with theory work and practical skills. Some learners, in spite of all the help and time they have, do nothing until it is too late offering excuses every time they have to hand in for assessment.
  1. Promote learner self-esteem so that they are motivated and self-disciplined

 I never use sarcasm or derogatory language with learners as this has a negative impact with relationships. I create a supportive and caring environment with discipline.

I try to promote self-discipline in the learners by handing the year plan ( a summary of the term plans) with dates of when certain activities must be completed, and then I expect them to follow these times. I also write the due dates on the white board in the class as a constant reminder.

Self-esteem…. I refer to my gold star program. I use the accomplishments of other learners to inspire those of this year –on my Hall of Fame Wall in my class room. Also the more they participate in practicals and extra-curricular activities the more confidence they develop

No-one can be motivated to work. If they don’t have a passion for a task at hand it is simply a chore that seems like a mountain. I simply try to be as passionate and excited as I can be about the topic and pray it rubs off on the learners.

  1. Use different techniques to promote research skills and independent learning

The science Escom EXPO can again me mentioned here as learners must work on their own to discover the answers to questions they had to ask themselves and all the work is done by them and they have to analyse the results and make valid conclusions. On their own they learn a lot.

Also doing the worksheet that I provide gives a learner a chance to think for himself and to solve answers for himself thereby learning independently 

  1. Organizing space to enable all learners to be productively engaged in learning

All my desks have been removed and replaced with longer tables bolted to the floor and benches bolted to the floor. As acoustics in the large lab is a problem the reduction in noise has made it easier to concentrate

I have placed curtains over the windows in the front half of the classroom for two reasons

  • One : the learners cannot peers out the window at activities outside the classroom
  • Two: the Projections on the board is clearer

In the back part of the lab I have lab benches where four to five learners group together for practicals, and they are responsible for their practical table and cupboard containing all necessary materials for the duration of the year.

I have posters on the walls that is related to the content I teach

I have a display of models in the class that I can access easily while teaching different topics

Backroom in the class for assessment portfolios, textbooks and test files or additional reference materials

And until recently I had a herbarium in the back of the class with plants used during practicals – but they all died the winter when the power shortages caused the temperature to drop and the watering programme to stop.

How do I creatively engage learners with the curriculum to enhance their learning experience

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  1. Use knowledge and skills to identify learner’s strengths and weaknesses in order to choose appropriate teaching and learning strategies

Tests provide an easy way to identify academically strong and academically weak individuals

  • Tasks like projects provide a wonderful way to identify learners with both creative and research skills that may not be very strong academically
  • Practicals provide another way to identify learners with hand skills in dissections (like Hambridge and his dissecting of the heart)
  • Practicals also provide a way to identify learners with problem solving and critical thinking skills
  • Oral presentations give opportunities for learners with public speaking skills and acting skills to excel
  • Q and A sessions help me to identify learners that don’t have the ability to understand and interpret questions

I use the knowledge I gain in the first topic of the year to implement the correct teaching and learning strategy in the following sessions

  1. Use learner-centered techniques that provide for acquisition of basic skills and displaying excellent content knowledge of relevant learning areas to promote critical thinking and problem solving

Since Life Science lends itself to practical experiments I  emphasize inquiry and discovery as a skills.

  • I facilitate inquiry as a skill by doing dissections such as heart, kidney and lungs where the learners are divided into groups, given a worksheet with photos, an organ for dissection and instructions. The learners then use their textbooks to help them find the correct labels and functions for the various structures. Other skills they acquire in the process is dissection skills, drawing skills, research skills, group work skills and communication skills. Critical thinking is necessary
  • I also facilitate discovery skills by implementing basic hypothesis skills. In this case learners are given a scenario and sometimes scientific information in the form of tables. They have to identify the problem , use or obtain the relevant information, formulate possible solutions to the problem, design and execute the investigation, then interpret data and make conclusions.  Here critical thinking and problem solving skills as important. Pupils must be able to make careful and accurate observations, make deductions and draw valid conclusions. This is why I let all my Grade 11’s participate in the Eskom Expo for young scientists. They often only realize the benefits after getting to district competitions. It is amazing to see the enthusiasm afterwards

Repetition gives learners a chance to practice their skills

  1. Creatively and innovatively adhere to curriculum planning that incorporates the use of teaching and learning resources relevant to the learner’s developmental levels.

As learners choose their subject it is within their level of interest and they have to pass certain criteria to be promoted to the next level

  • I use the subject framework and examination guidelines to develop a workbook of the content the learners need to understand over the grade 10 – 12 Life science subject
  • I usually receive a work schedule as a guideline for the time frame in which topics should be covered.
  • I then develop my lesson plans that will fully cover the necessary skills, knowledge and values learners need to develop these include:
    • Practical skills – dissection and hypothesis
    • Knowledge of content
    • Values – Society and technology, moral and ethical issues
  • I then develop a list of LTSM necessary for the practical applications these include:
    • Power point presentations on the smart board
    • You tube videos (4 – 10 minutes) to deal with difficult content/processes
    • Colour photographs and black and white diagrams for comparisons
    • Posters for my walls
    • DVD’s on various topics
    • Models of organs or structure
    • Materials to build models like clay, paint, waste materials, and sweets
    • Worksheets based on exam questions
    • Practical worksheets and materials needed for practicals
    • Tests on various levels

Sometimes I go back to basics by letting Grade 11’s and 12’s play with clay to build models (like meiosis), or using sweets to build models (like REEBOP), or cutting and pasting tasks that any learner can accomplish with fun being part of the aim.

4.Balance curricular needs and the context of the learner within the suggested time frame

As I understand the context of the learner is the background or circumstances the learner is from. To me regardless of background I have a set curriculum that must be covered in my classroom in a specified period of time. Unfortunately the allotted time is not always enough as learners often lack necessary skills and I therefore have extra classes on Monday afternoons and in the third term one Saturday per month from 8 to 1  to complete content for the Grade 12’s before the prelim exam. This is done on a voluntary bases but I try my utmost best to instill in my learners the importance of completing the syllabus on time and to have enough time for revision.

There are different ways of learning and teaching the same material. By repeating content but in different ways all  learners can successfully complete the curriculum for example

  • Initially I explain terminology and give a framework summary of the content (Learners see the work , hear the work and copy the work)
  • I follow this up with worksheets as homework applying the same work but in question format that must be interpreted
  • Lastly I do a practical task to illustrate the same content

I cater for haptic learners in practical sessions, visual learners in Power point presentations and auditory learners using DVD’s , Youtube vids and explanations

Dealing with poor facilities and inadequate resources

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Generally speaking we do not have poor facilities , we have adequate textbooks, a well stocked library, computers, SMART boards and most of the learners have cell phones with internet access. But I do include additional material for learners that come from impoveraged areas in Ikageng which I keep in a crate and they have access to during practicals and projects. And I provide cardboards for the Escom Expo participants. I exchange resources with Mponeng like old textbooks and media from the lab that I no longer use or need.