All entries for February 2012
February 15, 2012
This week was quite MA-rvellous. Now I was questioned by a member of the class on Saturday why the devil I am doing a Masters considering I have an MPhys and a PhD already...
Well there are a number of reasons. Firstly, you do not spend as long as I did in education if you do not have a yearning to learn as much as you can. I enjoy learning, and I want to test myself. Going into an MA is a whole new challenge for me. In this seminar-esque system, small groups, lots of discussion, forming opinions etc. It is a whole new way of learning for me. I got a good taste of it during my GTP and having earned 30 CATS towards one already (confirmed in a letter this week) it is an opportunity I cannot turn down.
I left a successful post-doc life, which was in many ways a dream job as it was very flexible, with numerous opportunities and perks, for perhaps a more stable, but more importantly in my opinion, a more rewarding career in teaching. Now I am not very good at settling for being ok at something. When I take up a hobby, a sport, a job, my competitive streak doesn't let me be second best. I see the MA in Educational Innovation as a stepping stone to help me improve my pedagogy and my understanding of the education system.
Which brings me to 'Issues in Assessment'. Now I am in my NQT year, and in charge of probably a disproportionate number of GCSE groups compared to others in my position, my exposure to the cut-throat nature of summative assessment and people's interpretations of them is extremely high. The session on Saturday was really interesting, and I think a few of the cohort heard a couple of my gripes I have with the application of 'assessment' by some. I can safely say I am in the teaching profession to make a difference to the lives of the students I teach, and to hopefully promote a subject in physics which has given a lot to me. I guess as a consequence, my employers will benefit with improving 'league table' position.
It is a shame, but because of the external pressures from stakeholders (and from this, we can deduce that means every single person, bar a homeless man deep in the woods), the general concencus suggests the emphasis of making a difference is the other way round. 'Improve the school, and as a consequence the students' prospects will improve'. So in effect, do what is best for the school, what makes the school look good, and then worry about the students second. It is a fine dividing line, and I appreciate it must be ridiculously difficult as a senior member of staff to make decisions. My experience as a student at school was not amazing and is a case in point.
The school I attended were on a downward-spiral results wise, and as a consequence, the decisions made when I was in year 11 were a tad ludicrous. I, along with 30 others, sat a double GCSE Science at Foundation level in November, got our CC grades, and then sat two single science GCSEs in the June. Awesome. Except for the fact I have no qualification above a double C grade in Chemistry now. Stopped me being able to take all the Sciences at A-Level. Made my degree in Physics more difficult as a consequence. Meant I spent a lot longer understanding X-ray crystallography during my PhD, and appreciating surface polishing methods. Also means as a teacher, I have had to complete refresher and subject-enhancement courses, and prove continuously I can teach Chemistry in particular. So a rash decision by a head of Science to boost the number of C's the department got that year has shaped my future somewhat. As a teacher, I am determined that I will endeavour to give every student I teach the best possible opportunity to achieve after school.
Anyway, am starting to so some research for our group presentation. Methods of Measuring Standards. Have a nice group, though one is choosing to spend the presentation day at her Gran's 98th birthday. Unbelievable :-)
See you on the 3rd.
February 10, 2012
To the current GTPs and last years cohort, I have begun the MA journey. The first session was a couple of weeks back, with contact day number 2 tomorrow.
With the courses on offer that are eligible for an Educational Innovation MA, I think the Issues in Assessment will provide me with the best opportunity to improve my practise, and also to develop a much deeper understanding of how education works from all perceivable view points.
I am looking forward to tomorrow. I have a number of current 'Issues with Assessment' within my current job, concerning my own personal use of summative assessment data, and also my department's. How much students should know etc etc.
I am aware a case study is required for tomorrow, though I am not so sure where this should be pitched, but guess I'll roll with the punches as always.
In other news, had another observation this week. It went well, and am finidng hard to comprehend I am already half my through my induction year as an NQT. Half term is busy, revision day on Wednesday all day with year 11. Also, the Head of Physics job has just come up at my school. Now do I apply or not?
Anyways, MA people, look forward to seeing you tomorrow, might even get there on time and actually meet some of you properly. To all others, happy half term.