From global to local – how the world shapes learning

By Jess Harris

Here is another of our intermittent blogs during the #AARE2022 conferenceIf you want to cover a session at the conference, please email to check in. Thanks!

This blog, covering two sessions, was put together by Jess Harris at the University of Newcastle at the Teachers and Teaching Priority Research Centre

Kitty Janssen (top left), Russell Cross and Thi Kim Anh Dang (top right photo), Matthew Harper (middle left), Jacquie Briskham (bottom photo)

Jacquie Briskham: Prioritising Casual Relief Teachers through the provision of quality professional learning to Advance Teaching Capacity and Wellbeing

Casual teachers are in high demand. Despite the complexity of casual teaching, casual teachers have limited access to professional development, support and mentoring. Furthermore, casualisation can impact teachers’ career progressions, when they are competing for jobs with other teachers, who have been provided support, mentoring and ongoing professional development.

Jacquie reported that casual teachers are often left with superficial or simplified lessons that they have to redesign in order to help give engaging lessons.

This project engaged 32 casual teachers in Quality Teaching Rounds, with the support of the NSW Department of Education. Importantly, casuals were paid for their time, while they participated in four days of Rounds. After 6 days of professional development, there was a clear impact on the quality of teaching, the confidence of casual teachers and their morale. One of the highlights within the findings was that the provision of collaborative professional development supported casual teachers to feel a sense of belonging. They were able to develop a support network of colleagues with similar experiences. The network has endured beyond the project, with casual teachers supporting each other in schools and discussing their teaching practice. The principals noticed that QTR prompted casual teachers to engage in discussions about their teaching, a professional discourse that ‘wasn’t there previously’. Engagement in the PD has resulted in increased employment for many of the participants.

There is a call for more effective PD policy for all teachers, not just those who were in permanent positions. Responding to a question, Jacquie indicated that the development of networks for casual teachers was critical to supporting them to build a sense of belonging in the school and in the profession. There was some discussion about how you might take the program of PD for casual teachers to scale. There are issues with remuneration and across educational jurisdictions.

A question was raised about how to support casual teachers in high school settings, particularly when they were teaching out of field. Jacquie reported that the teaching standards were not as easily applied as a pedagogical model, like the Quality Teaching model, for improving every lesson. 

Dr Thi Kim Anh Dang and Assoc. Prof. Russell Cross: Globalizing Teacher Education through English as a Medium of Instruction: Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory Perspective.

Drawing on their latest publication, they look at context and teaching and teacher education research, particularly how globalised teacher education has been supported through the use of English as the language of instruction.

Globalisation has led to educational contexts that are no longer bounded in space. Rather they are shaped by global, national and local features of teaching and teacher education. The impact of COVID is used as an example of how global elements have reshaped teacher learning and practice across the globe. 

Dr Dang and Associate Prof Cross argue that there are still very limited theoretical tools for systematically analysing the role of context on teacher learning and practice. They draw on Vygotsky’s theory of genetic development across histories and times. This theory is empirical, empirically bound and theoretically rich.

There is a need for the articulation of globalised space in education. Global artefacts, including online social spaces, privilege the virtual and extend global imaginaries, which can transform our understanding of schooling, teaching, and teacher development. 

They demonstrate the utility of their theoretical framework through an examination of English Language instruction in Vietnam and how practices are shaped at these global, national and local levels.

Student perception of learning and wellbeing within and beyond the classroom

Saurabh Malviya: Continuity of Learning in the child’s everyday in outside school hours care

What does the community think of after school care educators? And how do children think about learning in and out of school. In Australia, the number of children attending Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) has doubled since 2005. While there is a national quality framework for OSHC, there is widespread variation in the level of educational practice embedded in programs. 

This study examines children’s perceptions of how OSHC as a place for developing their identity and extending their learning through play-based learning. This phenomenological study looks at one OSHC program with children ranging in ages from 5 – 12. The themes emerging from the research demonstrate that OSHC and the relationships with educators support children’s social and emotional learning and understandings of their agency.

In the question and answer session, there was a discussion about the potential unintended consequences of examining the educational outcomes of OSHC programs. Do we want that part of a child’s day to be seen as an extension of schooling? Or is it beneficial to the professionalisation of OSHC to understand the types of learning that they support.

Matthew Harper: The subject (still) matters: Uncovering student experience in a case study of high school mathematics and drama

Maths and drama are positioned at different ends of the curriculum spectrum, with maths being considered a serious pursuit while drama is seen as a school subject where students go to play and explore. Matthew Harper takes an in-depth look at these two school subjects, particularly how students perceive maths and drama and characterise their learning in these subjects. Drawing data from four classes (two maths and two drama) in one school, the study involves 51 lesson observations, two interviews with each teacher, student focus groups and visual illustrations of the subject areas.

In focus groups, students were asked to draw an illustration and asked to describe their experiences in either maths or drama lessons. These illustrations and interviews were analysed, using a Bernsteinian lens, to demonstrate the different forms of framing between the subjects. 

Students often drew and described their engagement in maths as passive and teacher driven, whereas drama is a place where students can test things out, try, fail and ‘escape’ the traditional classroom. These drawings and interviews showed powerful understandings of their experience with the content and experiences of learning in different classrooms and subject areas.

The discussion after the study was focused on some of the study’s limitations, in examining only one teacher in each school. The students’ drawings and interviews, however, reflected a specific understanding of how they believe a subject should be taught. The teachers’ individual approaches could be partly responsible for these ideas, it could be that the subject matters.

Dr Kitty Janssen: Improving adolescent sleep: The appropriateness of six potential strategies for secondary schools

Media reports suggest that Australian adolescents are sleep deprived, with reports of 7-10 teenagers not getting enough sleep. Despite a lack of evidence, school leaders from two Australian schools reported a need to build more education and support for students to understand their sleep needs. The approach to health and wellbeing in schools is complex, balancing individual student needs and supporting wellbeing. As a result, teachers need to focus on educating students about the importance of lifestyle changes, including improving sleep.

This study used a strengths-based approach to look at the various factors within students’ lives that helped to improve their sleep. Dr Janssen’s findings show that better understandings of sleep hygiene and parents’ involvement can support improvements in adolescents’ sleeping patterns. She developed the concept of adolescent busyness, which included students’ academic work, social media use, out of hours activities, and peer and family relationships to understand some of the factors that could be inhibiting sleep. Her findings challenged media reports, showing that the majority of adolescents in her study are getting the recommended amount of sleep.

Importantly for parents, this study found that parents’ oversight of social media and devices can create stress that actually inhibits adolescents’ sleep. The factors of adolescent busyness are slightly increased for female students and issues of sleep appear to be worse for children as they move into their mid-teen years.

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