Across NSW secondary schools, there are students who believe in promoting a culture of favouritism and popularity. They prefer teachers who dance to their tunes and who make classrooms interesting in ways that are not related to Quality Teaching Framework or the Australian Professional Standards. Excessive reliance on technology could be one of the reasons why our students cannot spell properly or have literacy issues. The fact that large number of students have to sit for minimum HSC standards online tests, therefore, does not come as a surprise to most school communities.
Hattie’s observation that classroom management does not always lie in the hands of the classroom teacher and that it depends on various external factors is true. Despite extensive preparation for lessons, with teachers presenting lessons with the right mix of technology and resources such as worksheets, learning activities such as think-pair-share or group activities they are finding it increasing difficult to manage their classes due to the culture of favoritism. Educators stand defeated, when right from the moment students walk into the class, they show disrespect and collectively challenge teacher authority by ignoring their instructions, not paying any heed to teaching despite excellent resources being provided and by being persistently disobedient thereby squashing the efforts and hard work of the teachers to present a quality or meaningful lesson. In such scenarios, discipline policies recommended or implemented by the school are of no avail as placing twenty students out of a total of twenty-five students on monitoring books appear ridiculous. If we rely on statistics, by extending the situation in this class to few more challenging classes of different year groups, phone calls, letters and other forms of establishing contact with parents are futile as it is impossible to follow promptly with the numbers being staggering and no family time on a daily basis.
Attendance, lateness, N warning letters as per NESA requirements for ROSA and HSC students are also the responsibility of educators who are bogged with classroom management issues irrespective of the number of years of experience the teachers have in teaching. It is unrealistic for teachers with a decade’s experience in teaching to face such issues at a particular school or for educators with more number of years of experience in the same school. If experienced teachers are confronted with new problems, then the fingers automatically point to the school executives and the level of support they give to classroom teachers. Or these developments could be the result of a hidden agenda followed by the school communities or regional offices or government strategists. If this culture of disrespecting teachers collectively and favouring few educators over others for vested reasons is student generated, then they are unlawful and illegal as they are acting against NSW government.
According to the Core Rules of student discipline in NSW government schools, all students of NSW government schools are expected to ” show respect at all times for teachers, other school staff and helpers, including following classroom rules, speaking courteously and cooperating with instructions and learning activities.” The core rules emphasise on teachers and students treating each other with dignity and respect. Consequently, when students walk into the classrooms with soft drinks, chips and other food items and sit in groups or stand near the window indulging in frivolous conversations instead of focusing on teacher instructions and explanations, they are violating the core rules of NSW government schools in every possible way. Under the circumstances, it is impossible for teachers to shape students into better citizens of tomorrow. Hence, I appeal to the students to re-evaluate their classroom behaviour and reconsider their choices. To prove that my allegations are not baseless, I have attached an image of the Core Rules poster issued by NSW DEC.