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 Classroom Problems
 Posted: Oct 11 2017, 03:20 PM

Rana Capillum

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Tired parents should spare a thought for teachers

Bethany Hiatt
Wednesday, 11 October 2017 9:25AM

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As children returned to school this week after two weeks of holidays, many parents would have breathed a sigh of relief.

For six hours a day they will not have to worry about refereeing spats between siblings or negotiating how much time their kids can spend playing games on the Xbox or checking their social media accounts. But how many parents spare a thought for the teachers who may have around 30 chatty, argumentative kids to deal with at one time?

Students threatening each other with knives is the type of extreme misconduct that grabs the headlines, but the reality is that the sorts of transgressions that wear teachers down are more common — and far more insidious.

They include students who constantly backchat teachers, refuse to pay attention, talk among themselves while a teacher issues instructions or show little consideration for others.

Anecdotally, the chat over staff room teacups is that kids are far more chatty than they were a decade ago — perhaps because of changing parenting styles.

Brought up on a diet of video games and instant feedback from social media, they expect teachers to entertain them. And the common perception in the community is that disruptive behaviour in school classrooms is getting worse, fuelled by a general decline in respect for authority and growing numbers of dysfunctional families. But just how accurate is that perception?

According to a report released this year, that perception may not be too wide of the mark. The report, by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, said discipline levels in Australian high schools were below the OECD average. This finding was based on responses from 15-year-old students surveyed after taking part in the Program for International Student Assessment, which is held every three years. It found that about one-third of Australian students in affluent schools and about half of those in disadvantaged schools reported experiencing noise and disorder in most or every class.

“Student reports indicated that many Australian schools have a poor climate of classroom discipline,” it said. “Australia scored significantly lower than the OECD average on this index, indicating a more problematic situation than across the OECD.” At the time, Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham was quick to call for a “zero tolerance approach to bad behaviour” and said improvements were needed if Australia was to claw its way back near the top of international rankings.

The Australian Council for Educational Research has since looked at these survey responses in more depth, analysing the data as part of its Snapshots series. The latest snapshot, released recently, poses the questions: has the climate in Australian classrooms changed, and have student-teacher relationships deteriorated in the 15 years since the tests were first held?

After each round of PISA tests, students were asked to record how frequently certain behaviours occurred in their classroom. They included: students not listening to what the teacher says, whether there is noise and disorder, the teacher waits a long time for students to quieten, students cannot work well and students don’t start working for a long time after the lesson begins.

The percentage of students reporting that “students don’t listen” nearly doubled, from 21 per cent in 2000 to 40 per cent in 2015. The proportion complaining about noise and disorder marring lessons also increased significantly. But the proportion who said teachers have to wait for the class to quieten before starting the lesson did not change significantly, suggesting the amount of lost learning time has not increased.

So has there been a change to classroom climate in the past 15 years?
The answer, according to the ACER snapshot, seems to be a rather inconclusive “definitely maybe”.

The Snapshot report says: “The situation does not appear to be as dire as the media and some policymakers would have us believe. Zero tolerance of misbehaviour does not seem to be warranted, or possible, but it does raise the question of whether we could be addressing declining student achievement in PISA by focusing on fostering classroom environments that better support all students’ learning, not just those who are still able to concentrate and listen to their teachers in noisy environments.”

The report concludes by saying a return to classrooms of the past, with rows of silent students copying facts from the blackboard, is neither desirable nor possible.

But it also notes that a combination of increasing noise, disruption and delays may mean that students miss out on learning opportunities.
“And these missed opportunities can add up over time,” it says.

What the report doesn’t tell us — and what no one seems to know — is how to turn the problem around.

I thoroughly enjoyed my career as a teacher but had noticed an increase in the problems described. Having spoken to fellow teachers still involved in classroom teaching, I no longer have any desire to return to my profession of choice. Not so much because of the problems described in this article (I never had any trouble in those areas) but because of the ever increasing demands and expectations placed on teachers.

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." — Dr. Seuss

"The only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday." — Anonymous
 Posted: Oct 11 2017, 03:55 PM


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I too retired when the expectations and bureaucratic workload were beyond what I considered reasonable. My time would have been better spent on teaching and lesson preparation. I also had issues with some content and teaching methods, I was better off out of it.
 Posted: Oct 12 2017, 06:20 PM


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“Student reports indicated that many Australian schools have a poor climate of classroom discipline,” it said. “Australia scored significantly lower than the OECD average on this index, indicating a more problematic situation than across the OECD.” At the time, Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham was quick to call for a “zero tolerance approach to bad behaviour” and said improvements were needed if Australia was to claw its way back near the top of international rankings.

We did home education with our children, mainly because of the above which started years ago, and the problem has got worse and worse. Simon Birmingham's BIG talk of “zero tolerance approach to bad behaviour” means nothing, more talk and zero action!

My son is in year 11 now - he tried a transition to a local College at the beginning of this year, before making a final decision to attend his classes either through flexible learning with teachers who work from three separate Colleges or to attend a local College.

My son's first experience was enough, kids abusing teachers, on their phones not taking any notice of the teacher - teachers are not permitted to take student's phones (no chance of learning while playing on the phone).

My son's English teacher recently told my son that he is the very first student to complete all of the assignments, which does not surprise me at all.

The best teachers my son had were 'old school' teachers, sadly he watched these teachers move on (not by their choice) the replacements were substandard, they use Youtube classes and send textbooks to read the rest is done with research - very little support from teachers. My son is determined to pass all of his subjects, and the results so far speak for themselves, no thanks to a very poor education system.

I blame PC weak governments for the sad state of Education system, which has nothing to do with a lack of funding, consecutive governments can also be blamed for the poor attitude that our dysfunctional modern society has.

Politicians and diapers should be changed frequently and all for the same reason.

~José Maria de Eça de Queiroz,

We live in a world in which politics has replaced philosophy. ~Martin L. Gross, A Call for Revolution, 1993

"Stupid people are like glow sticks: I wanna snap em and shake the shit outta them till the light comes on."
 Posted: Oct 13 2017, 07:21 AM

Supremo Poster

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The best years of my schooling were spent in grade three.

Living In An Elected Dictatorship
Flin's opinions and comments reflect his perception of the facts and not necessarily reality
 Posted: Oct 13 2017, 11:57 AM

Rana Capillum

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I went to that great school - Reform.

Life is neither a race to the end, nor a slow ramble whose sole aim is longevity

Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.
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