LisaHillSchoolStuff's Weblog

'If students can't learn the way we teach, we must teach the way they learn' (Ignacio Estrada, via Tomlinson)

Posts Tagged ‘Teacher morale’

Frank Gagliado’s schooling: a one-hundred year view

Posted by Lisa Hill on January 6, 2014

This is an exceptionally good article by Dean Ashenden at Inside Story.

I particularly like what he has to say about the Quality Teacher harangue:

Highly effective teaching is hard to do, hard to learn, and hard to find. It is exceptional. The proposition that we can make classroom maestros the rule rather than the exception by tinkering with pay structures, teacher education, bonus schemes and the like is implausible.

See more at Inside Story (one of the best online news journals around!)

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Bah humbug, from the VIT

Posted by Lisa Hill on December 23, 2009

At this time of the year most employers give their employees a bonus, but not mine.

I get a bill from the Victorian Institute of Teaching instead.  I’ve just paid it today, and I hope my colleagues have too, because I note that that ‘late payment processing fees now apply if invoice not paid in full by due date.’

What do I get for my $70, a fee which rises by a couple of dollars each year?  Registration to teach, (which used to be handled efficiently and for free, by the Department of Education) and it’s not even national registration.  Their most high profile activity, dismissing  teachers who have disgraced the profession through inappropriate behaviour with students, results in the embarrassment of salacious reporting about it.  Great for the prestige of teachers, not.

Gee, thanks, VIT.  Happy Christmas to you too.

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Justice Michael Kirby, you’re my hero!

Posted by Lisa Hill on December 2, 2009

I hope the ABC doesn’t mind me quoting from their report about what Justice Michael Kirby had to say about the inequitable funding of government schools, because I’m fed up too.  I am more than fed up with the lack of funding for kids who need extra help, money for which is smeared as money for teachers to feather their nests and slack off.   I’m really angry about the shortage of teachers because teaching is a profession nobody wants to do any more because it’s so badly paid and the conditions are so awful.   I’m even more angry that we are importing rubbish ideas like payment by results and league tables from America when the US, the richest nation in the world, has an education system that has failed its poorest citizens and has appalling literacy rates.  Why on earth would we want to copy anything they do?  And why is it that it’s government schools that have to submit to this stupidity, eh?

” Former High Court Justice Michael Kirby says he is fed up with government neglect of public schools, especially while private schools get extra public money. In a speech at Melbourne High last night, Justice Kirby said Australians educated in state high schools should stick up for public education and urge the government to provide more funding. “The schools where 63 per cent of Australians are educated deserve better, and the time has come for all citizens to make it clear that they demand an end to the under-funding of public education, where the future of our nation will chiefly be written,” he said.

Justice Kirby pointed out that during his 13 years on the High Court bench, he was for the most part the only judge to have been educated entirely in public schools. “One out of seven. This is curious, there is a puzzle here, but also a challenge,” he said. And he took a swipe at politicians and the media who criticise public schools.

“I’m fed up with the suggestion that public schools neglect education in values,” he said.

 “I’m fed up when I go to wealthy private schools with substantial supplementary funding and see the neglect of the facilities of famous public high schools. “

A principal of a fine private school said to me recently that in most other countries, the high school of the former prime minister would be celebrated and it would be well endowed. “I hope that this attrition will end, and end soon. It is unjust and it’s certainly undeserved, as the record of public school achievements demonstrates.”

Justice Kirby highlighted the achievements of Australian Nobel laureates who had attended public schools, including this year’s winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine, Elizabeth Blackburn. And he urged those educated in public schools to speak up for the majority of Australian students. “It constantly amazes me that leaders of government in Australia who have themselves benefited from public education go along with inequity in the distribution of public funds for schooling,” he said. “Parents and citizens in public schools have to learn the art of advocacy. They’ve got to blog, Twitter, text, lobby and argue. ‘Be sure that the lobbyists for private and religious schools are highly skilled and well organised. For the children of the nation’s public schools, this lack of balance has to stop.”

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Be the Revolution? If only there was one!

Posted by Lisa Hill on November 27, 2009

What on earth is going on at HQ in the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development?? Have they lost the plot entirely?


I came back to school after Cup Day feeling tired but pleased with myself.  Everything was under control, I thought. The reports were done, and we had amended our Strategic Plan to take account of developing a new Student Engagement Policy, a huge task that came out of the blue and was assigned to all schools late in Term 3.  It’s  due to region by the end of this year but we had set aside an hour a week to work on it so that we could get it finished by the deadline.  (Anyone who is imagining that this could be a one page A4 document had better think again.  This so-called policy is going to run to about 30 pages, and is really a full-scale program). 

Anyway, I had developed a draft of the Annual Implementation Plan V1 from the amended strategic plan and it was almost ready for circulation and feedback.  The Professional Development Team had sketched out a Professional Development Plan V1.  We had made our plans for the three curriculum days at the beginning of 2010 and the staff doing the presentations were organised to undertake some preparatory PD.   I thought I could focus on getting the library stock-take organised and correcting the projects that Years 3-6 were due to finish in Weeks 7 and 8.  

But then I checked my email….

First there was a demand for a School Performance Summary.  Data to be provided to us on November 6th, and the finished report due to region on the 16th.  Yes, that’s 10 days to do it and I had to miss a morning’s classes to attend PD to find out what it was all about.   It turned out to be an ‘enhanced’ version of the Rudd government’s so-called transparency agenda.  I dutifully provided a profile of our school etc to go on the State Government’s website which will duplicate the league tables data which the Feds are setting up.  I did this knowing full well that no one will look at it once the league tables have been published in The Australian and all the tabloids (who have, no doubt, already organised their journos to sort the data, once it’s available, into the format that they want).

Then there was some stuff from region, inviting us to Be the Revolution.  I waded through the world’s most irritating website (I’d add the link, but I can’t find it on SMR’s website LOL) to find that there was an 88 page manual to read.  I decided to read the summary instead, but that was 14 pages long. I printed out the wretched thing and stuck it in my bag to take home and read later.

I did that at the weekend.  As I suspected, Being the Revolution involves a lot of work.  Most of what we have to do rehashes the Curriculum Plan that we did in 2007, (yes, that’s only two years ago) but there’s also some fanciful stuff about dreaming how we might redesign our school spaces to teach in the 21st century.  Even if there were some prospect of having the money to do this, isn’t this an architect’s job?  Are they really expecting teachers to design buildings??

Whether it’s an absurd waste of time or not, my estimated time impact of the Be the Revolution stuff, that is, how much teacher time is needed to deal with it,  totals 13-19 hours + 4-6 weeks research + unspecified time for the ‘catchphrase’ & ‘road map’  + 4 x ongoing time allocations + unspecified time for reflection, based on advice in the 88 page manual:

Section 1: Dreams 3-5 hours+ ongoing unspecified time for the ‘catchphrase’ & ‘road map’;

Section 2: Invest 2-3 hours + 4-6 weeks research

Section 3: Design 7-10 hours +ongoing;

Section 4: Share: 30-40 mins +4 x ongoing time allocations + unspecified time for reflection

I have no idea where this time is going to come from: planning, preparing for and correcting student learning, I suppose?  Integrated Unit development?  Preparation of resources?  After school professional development?? Consensus moderation of assessment tasks?  All the other initiatives we have in our strategic plan?? Anyway, I set my doubts aside and added it to the list of things we’re going to do in 2010 in our Annual Implementation Plan V2, and added it to the Professional Development Plan V2  as well.

23.11.09 (Monday)

Circulated draft Annual Implementation Plan V2 to Leadership Team.

25.11.09 (Wednesday).

Email about online PD available for the three curriculum days at the start of term 1 2010.  I would have thought that all schools would be devoting at least one whole day to introducing the new Student Engagement Policy, and another whole day to progressing the implementation of E5 and planning for using it.  Anyway, we’ve already planned our three days…

26.11.09 (Thursday )1.23pm

Email from SMR about Ultranet AIP Guidelines suggesting ways to include the Ultranet in the Annual Implementation Plan.  Wary of committing the school to something we know very little about, I re-do the Annual Implementation Plan now V3 with undertakings to provide PD for staff and implement the initiative as information becomes available.  Make note to self about amending Professional Development Plan which will be V3.  Frantic efforts to share these amendments with the leadership team sabotaged by huge rainstorm.  The corridor is awash, three rooms are flooded, parts of the ceiling collapse under the weight of water, and it seems like a good idea to turn the computers off.  Oh, and everybody is too busy with mops and towels to chat about the AIP . 

27.11.09 Friday 1.25 pm

That deadline to submit the draft  Annual Implementation Plan is looming – rainstorm or not, it’s due to region on Monday.  Updated the Annual Implementation Plan Draft V4 to include more about the Ultranet, and sent it off by email to the Leadership Team for feedback.  Five minutes later, there were three new documents about the Ultranet in my inbox.  Ultranet Readiness documents they call them – as if schools can be ready for something about which they have had next to no information, no professional development and no money to provide the infrastructure.

At this stage my rebellious streak overtook my professional zeal and I decided that I’d had enough.  These incessant  demands from the department are unreasonable.  Clearly they are disorganised and have left everything to the last minute, and they seem to have forgotten that schools are busy with reports, EOY functions like Graduation, managing the Fed’s Building Program, preparing grade lists for 2010, interviewing staff for 2010 positions, library stock-takes and so on.  We’re still teaching too – I’ve got 18 classes a week; the other leading teachers who are classroom teachers get 4 hours time release a week.  How on earth are we supposed to collaborate on planning at such short notice (never mind the collaborating we’re supposed to be doing on the Student Engagement Policy as well!)

Whoever is in charge of the Department of Education & Early Childhood Development at HQ needs to get out of the skyscraper in the city and visit some schools to see the impact of these unreasonable demands.  Strategic planning for effective 21st century learning is too important to be ruined by such disorganised stupidity as this.  It saps the goodwill of hardworking teachers and it means that anything that does get done won’t be done properly. 

If we had a real revolution in schools, there would be respect for the work of teachers, there would be money to support worthwhile initiatives, and adequate time release would be provided for planning purposes instead of trading on the goodwill of the profession.

Update 2.12.09 More stuff came today, to be included in the Annual Implementation Plan.  Too late, o tardy bureaucrats, we’ve sent ours in already, as per the official deadline, on Monday last.

Posted in Opinion | Tagged: | 6 Comments »

What an insult!

Posted by Lisa Hill on November 5, 2009

All teachers in Australia are used to being undervalued, but every now and again there’s fresh evidence that the complexity of our work and the expertise that underlies our profession counts for nothing…

Today I was approached to work as a consultant (for an organisation I won’t name) for a flat fee of $350 for 10 hours work.  

My cleaning lady is paid $25.00 per hour. 

You do the maths.  Don’t forget to deduct tax.

There’s no prize for guessing that I said ‘No thanks! ‘

Posted in Opinion | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

A Teacher’s Prayer

Posted by Lisa Hill on September 22, 2009

A friend of mine gave me a bookmark with this lovely poem printed on it:

A Teacher’s Prayer

I want to teach my students more than lessons in a book:

I want to teach them deeper things that people overlook –

The value of a rose in bloom, its use and beauty too,

A sense of curiosity to discover what is true;

How to think and how to choose the right above the wrong;

How to live and learn each day and grow up to be strong;

To teach them always how to gain in wisdom and in grace;

So they will someday make the world a brighter, better place;

So let me be a friend and guide to give these minds a start

Upon their way down life ‘s long road, then I’ll have done my part.

By Jill Wolf


Posted in Learning and teaching | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Victorian Students Top of the Class again!

Posted by Lisa Hill on September 15, 2009

This time last year I blogged about Victoria’s excellent results in the annual NAPLAN – and expressed my disappointment that the Minister for Education, Bronwyn Pike, had in her press release failed to congratulate Victoria’s teachers…

This year our results are again excellent – and this time, there’s credit where credit’s due:

The results are also a tribute to the dedication of our highly motivated principals and teachers,” Education Minister Bronwyn Pike said *.

That’s much better! Thanks!

*Source: and

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International Teachers’ Day 2008

Posted by Lisa Hill on November 1, 2008

It was International Teachers’ Day yesterday, and I received a heart-warming card from Taniell, Casey and Charlee:

‘Thank you for teaching us how to love reading, and showing us how important books are to us.  You are a very caring teacher, so thank you.’

The chocolates were nice too!

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Victoria Top of the Class in NAPLAN results

Posted by Lisa Hill on September 17, 2008

Oh Bronwyn Pike, what a disappointment you are to us all!
I’ve just read your press release about the excellent results that Victoria achieved in this years NAPLAN tests, and there is not one word of thanks or congratulations to the people who made happen – the teachers.
Far from any acknowledgement of the hard work, dedication and skill of the teaching profession, instead we get a glowing endorsement of the government’s efforts.
“Victoria has received a glowing report card in Australia’s first national testing of students, ranked among the highest performing states and territories and confirming the Brumby Government’s initiatives to improve literacy and numeracy are showing real results”.
When even our Minister for Education fails to honour our successes, why would anyone want to join the profession?

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