Posts Tagged professional_development
Something I’ve been meaning to blog about for a while is the unseen labour that goes into marking student work.
It’s semester 2 marking time in Australian universities, and I’ve just finished a stack of mine. ‘Stack’ in the figurative sense, because these were a combination of learning logs and and video blogging, all submitted and marked digitally, so there were no actual stacks of anything.
Being the audience and assessor for these students’ work was a privilege, and I don’t think any teacher should forget that having the authority to do this work is always a privilege. Sometimes it is also a joy. And it is always something that we do, knowing the important positive impact that quality feedback has on student learning.
It is a labour of love, but it is a labour to be sure.
Generally a student assignment takes 30 minutes to mark. So they say. Once I get my hand in, I can usually get through an exam response in 20 minutes (they don’t tend to require any feedback), and an essay in 30 minutes, but a set of professional plans (e.g. annotated lesson plans, units of work) takes about 45 minutes and you just can’t rush it.
A typical formula for university marking in my field is that formal assessment feedback and grading for each student should get an hour of your time each semester. That’s 30 minutes for each assignment if you only set two assignments. If you want to set more assignments, it’s on you to mark them quicker. If you’re in the edu-biz, you’ll know that this is where group presentations and short response exam papers start looking attractive.
In a typical semester I have 120 students. That’s maybe 90 students in one big unit, and 30 students in a smaller unit. As a high school teacher this was also roughly the number of students I had – roughly five classes of 25 (some with 30 students, some with closer to 20, e.g. senior classes).
Using me as an example: I set two assignments each semester. And we know that on average I plan to spend 30 minutes on each.
My semester runs for 9 weeks (because it’s followed by prac.), but they can also run for 13 weeks. You can’t really set an assignment in weeks 1 or 2. If the assignment is big, worth 40% or more, you can’t really set it in weeks 3 or 4 either.
Let’s say assignment 1 is submitted in week 5. We’re expected to get work back to students in 2-3 weeks. So they say. Which puts me giving their results back to them in week 8 (a very important deadline if the next assignment is due in week 9).
30 mins each
60 hours extra work
/over 3 weeks
20 hours of extra work each week.
Add about 3 hours for each of the following:
- getting your head around the task and long times spent on first few tasks marked
- moderation with a colleague
- administration of grades, uploading feedback to LMS etc.
Rinse and repeat just one week later if you have set assignment 2 to be due in week 9.
So if you’ve got about 120 students on average, and managed to keep yourself limited to your 30 minutes per assignment in all units in both semesters, then you will have worked about 23 hours of overtime for 12 weeks out of the year.
I say overtime, because the whole time you’ve been doing this, life, and other work, goes on…
Classes still need teaching. Emails still need answering. You still have to front up to important meetings. Research papers still need writing, grant proposals still need submitting, you may be collecting research data and attending conferences too. If you’re a school teacher, it’s classes, emails, meetings, lesson prep, school dance supervision, year 8 camp, sport coaching, bus duty…the list goes on.
As depressing as this exercise is, I think we should all do the math on this for our own teaching context.
People need to know the reality of what teachers mean when someone asks them how they’re going and the only response they can muster is a stoney-eyed “I’ve been marking”.
Spouses and family members need to be acknowledged for how they support the teachers in their lives during marking seasons.
Teachers need to grasp the reality of their workloads so they aren’t taken by surprise each time the overtime cycle hits, and help each other learn how to manage the physical, mental and emotional toll it takes (or collectively rise up and change this system maybe, hey?).
And beginning teachers need to be aware of what they’re in for.
I am so grateful to my boss for giving me lighter teaching load this semester (just 35 students!) so I can focus on my research publications, but next semester I’ll have 120 students again. I can’t wait to meet them, but I sure do wish their assignments would mark themselves!
The week we’ve all been waiting for, week one of the university semester, is finally here!
This semester, I will be focussing on the following areas of my English Curriculum Studies unit for development:
- Building in more support for student reflective writing. The design of my lesson planning assignment last year included a tutorial presentation of the key teaching strategies, but it didn’t really work that well. So I plan to change this element of the assessment to a written reflection, and add two targeted activities to tutorials in mid-semester to more constructively scaffold the task.
- Finding places to make connections between English curriculum studies content knowledge and other professional frameworks. In particular I want to ensure that students understand how the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers can be used to self-diagnose areas of strength and directions for further learning, and are knowledgable about the Productive Pedgagogies framework that is advocated by Education Queensland.
- Registration. After three years of running this unit it will be time to write up the final unit design, as well as a ‘scope and sequence’, so that the unit is ready to be passed on. At school we called this ‘registration’ – when the Head Teacher would check out your unit plans at the end of the semester and ensure you met your learning objectives. Here at uni there are other other mechanisms in place, but the Head Teacher check isn’t one of them. And official changes are made so sllllloooowwwlyyyy. So, for my own piece of mind, I’m going to put my own unit through a final tick-and-flick, then prepare my reflections and field notes for scholarly publication and sharing.
I’ve included below another classroom poster I’ve made, a visual resource to support my students’ engagement with the Productive Pedagogies – feel free to use and share (though note that the values/opinions expressed on it about alignment with ‘prac’ are only my own POV!).
And once more into the breach!
The topic: the draft Senior English subjects proposed by ACARA.
You can check out the ‘Storify’ made by Vivian to see all of the tweets from the discussion that night collected in one place:
If you haven’t yet found where to download the draft curriculum documents from, here is the URL: http://www.acara.edu.au/curriculum/draft_senior_secondary_australian_curriculum.html
Consultation on these documents ends on 20th July, 2012 (THAT’S SOON!) You can contact your professional association to ask if you can add comments to their response, or lodge your own response at the ACARA consultation website: http://consultation.australiancurriculum.edu.au/ (you will need to register first).
Some interesting comments made during the #ozengchat were:
- That an ‘English Literature’ (EL) course would flow nicely into university study
- That the EL course did not look significantly more difficult than the ‘English’ (E) course
- That the assumption is that in NSW, the current Standard course aligns with ‘English’ while the current Advanced course aligns with ‘English Literature’ – but this is not at all the case
- That bridging the gap between Year 10 and Year 11 & 12 needs a stronger focus
- That the proposal to organise Senior English into semester-long units seems to align with what currently happens in Western Australia…but we’re not sure where else (?)
- That the local state/territory bodies would still be responsible for assessment and examination; i.e. many did not realise that the NSW BOS would still be responsible for setting the HSC reading list
- That English Studies as exists in NSW (non-ATAR course) filled a big gap – the hope is that ‘Essential English’ (EE) turns out to be like English Studies (or English Communication, a similar course in QLD)
- That English would likely remain mandatory in NSW, and people wondered why it was not so in other states/territories
There is so much more to talk about when it comes to the proposed Senior English subjects!
I hope to have a new post up soon with some of my personal thoughts about the drafts. In the meantime, if you’ve been thinking about (or wondering about) the curriculum ACARA has proposed, drop a comment here – let’s chat about it!
This year in Sydney, as with last year in Melbourne, AATE and ALEA are holding separate national conferences.
Despite promises to myself earlier this year to go to less conferences, I’ll be heading along to both 🙂
The ALEA National Conference, which is about to be held in Sydney from 6-9 July, has already sold out all available places (Well done to Lisa Kervin, the conference convenor!) I’ll be sticking my head in on the last day of this conference to hand out promotional material our conference in Brisbane…it’s hand over time, baby!
The AATE National Conference will be held a little later this year, from 3-4 October. I’ll be there with Five Bells on, presenting a workshop with Bianca Hewes on ‘Success, obstacles and ethics in online teaching’ as well as on a panel about teacher blogging. I’ll be joined on the panel by the likes of Bianca, Troy and Darcy, so you know it’s going to be a power-session; not to be missed!
Once these two conferences are wrapped up, it’s next stop: Brisbane 2013!
Our website won’t go live until after the hand over in July, but there is a Facebook page you can like and Twitter profile you can follow:
We’re working like crazy to get the Call for Papers and everything else ready for the launch, but here’s a sneak preview of things to come:
…will I see you in Brisbane in 2013?
In my search this semester to find local resources to support English teachers, I came across the Queensland Writers Centre (http://www.qwc.asn.au/).
Truth told, I had already come across the QWC last year, when I was learning about IF:Book Australia (http://www.futureofthebook.org.au/). Finding out more about the QWC was something I had been meaning to do for awhile!
So it was serendipitous that I came across a notice about the ‘Letter Writing Club’ that is being run throughout 2012 by the Queensland Writers Centre. On the first Monday of most months, members of the public can participate in the club for free. Paper, quills, old typewriters and other devices are made available for people to write letters … this is the whole point of the club.
Isn’t that great?
Here is the information from their website – I hope to get along to at least one of these!