Teaching the littlies

This year, our head teacher (Robyn) came up with a great idea which has gradually been shaped by the staff in our faculty, and then by other faculties at the school, into an official program. Once a fortnight, teachers in the English faculty go to one of the feeder primary schools in our town and teach a watered down version of a high school English lesson to year 5s and 6s.

This came up in response to the lack of information (and the resulting chaos in terms 1 and 2) provided to teachers about the students in year 7 this year. Considering that upwards of 30% of them have high literacy needs, as well as behavioural needs or other forms of organisational or physical education needs, this meant that teachers of year 7 (me being the teacher of 3 classes of them) were overwhelmed by catering for such a wide range of needs in the mixed classes.

Teacher’s aide time with year 7 classes increased, and another English teacher and I worked with the STLA to formulate alternative programs for Italian and English for certain students in these classes.

However, keen to put in place procedures to ensure this did not occur again, our head teacher delegated the volunteers in our faculty a primary school and suddenly we were in front of a class full of little people.

Throughout the year, I taught things which ranged in complexity from text type construction, like recount writing, to complex “high school” ideas such as how layout and structure affect the meaning in poetry.

Having access to the new curriculum for years k-10 has also been helpful in seeing where along the continuum these challenging students fall, and what they should be learning in those stages that they have missed/forgotten/not been able to grasp. Interestingly, I found that a number of year 7 students could not even achieve stage 2 outcomes according to the new syllabus.

We were then given a say in the structure of year 7 classes for 2013, given access to proposed class lists, and the opportunity to find out additional information from the teachers of those students this year in a more informal manner (ie having a chat while the kids are working).

Hopefully this program will prove successful and next year’s cohort’s literacy needs will be able to be addressed more effectively and more immediately. This should also mean that the program which was the brainchild of Robyn should be replicated in other areas which are finding literacy (or numeracy) a challenge with their year 7 cohorts.


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