Monthly Archives: October 2011

Dealing with the bad apples

Being a member of a Student Representative Council (SRC) is not always about wearing a badge and missing out on classes. For some, the initial appeal wears off when they soon realise the volume of time and level of commitment required to fulfil the role effectively. This can lead to SRC members backing away their responsibilities, dragging down the SRC or choosing to opt out of the SRC all together. So, what can be done to prevent these situations from
occurring? How do you respond to situations where the  bad apples are starting to spoil the rest of the bunch?

PREVENTION:

Having students aware of the accountability involved prior to taking on a role can be one way of preventing burn out or issues during the year. Developing clear job descriptions that state the tasks involved and the time required each week could be one way of informing students about the commitment required. Having past SRC members who have filled those positions speak to potential candidates can also help in communicating the degree of involvement and work required.

During the year, it is useful to complete an audit of your SRC. The VicSRC resource kit, “REPRESENT!” features a section features an audit tool (1.7 An effective SRC) to enable you and the SRC members to obtain feedback about how the SRC is operating. Being aware of how others perceive the organisation is a useful exercise and will provide with you data to help discuss the operations of the SRC with its members and school administration.

 After a mid-year review of the SRC, the data showed that SRC members where frustrated with giving up large amounts of their lunchtime for meetings and other commitments. As the teacher advisor, I raised this with school administration and we agreed to rotate meetings fortnightly between lunchtime and class time. The SRC also agreed that they would allocate a portion of their budget to provide catering at some of the lunchtime SRC meetings.

IS IT AN SRC ISSUE OR A SCHOOL ISSUE ?

As the SRC Teacher Advisor, you will no doubt encounter an experience with a member of staff who will tell you about the inappropriate behaviour of a student who is a member of the SRC.

The Year 9 Co-ordinator approached me about Damien’s behaviour in a class that was covered by a CRT. The co-ordinator was called to the class after rude and disruptive behaviour by Damien and other students. The other students were reprimanded by way of after-school detention, however, as Damien was an SRC Member, he was told the matter would need to be taken further. The co-ordinator was calling for Damien to be removed from his position on the SRC.

Does inappropriate school behaviour warrant sanctions imposed by the SRC? Should this be in addition to any consequence imposed by the school?  Having a clear policy or SRC constitution that is understood by year level co-ordinators and school leadership that states how such situations are to be managed can assist greatly. I have heard of SRC’s threatening to withdraw support from wider school events or stage class walkouts by the student body when such processes have not been followed. Whilst the school may choose to impose sanctions based on the student code of conduct, if the sanctions were to impact on the student’s involvement in the SRC, at a minimum, the SRC Teacher Advisor as advocate for the SRC should be present at all discussions.

DO YOU INVOLVE THE SRC WHEN DEALING WITH THE ACTIONS OF AN INDIVIDUAL MEMBER ?

Depending on the matter, it can be useful to involve SRC members in managing disciplinary matters. By doing so, you are demonstrating that their involvement in decision making isn’t tokenistic and limited to fundraising and where the new bins should be placed in the yard.

Carl was a Grade 3 member of the SRC. He always arrived late to meetings, failed to complete tasks he agreed to undertake and disrupted meetings by making inappropriate noises and offing comments unrelated to what was being discussed. The school captains who chaired the meetings raised their concerns with me. We discussed strategies they could used during the meeting to manage Carl’s behaviour. The school captains also met with Carl to discuss his behaviour. The conversation between the school captains and Carl was far more powerful as it was coming from an equal level rather than a top-down approach.

The Meetings Resource Kit developed by Second Strike contains further information and advice about responding to certain behaviours during meetings.

Alternatively, having SRC members deal with disciplinary matters against students may impact negatively on their relationships with other students and school staff so you may wish to remove them from the processes.

The Victorian Institute of SRC Teacher Advisers has recently uploaded some new resources to the MEMBERS ONLY resources section of our website. Resources on offer include:

  • Sample Job Descriptions
  • Sample Constitutions & Policies containing Codes of Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures
  • Formal Warning Letters
  • Sample SRC Reports for students

 To access these resources or to become a VISTA member, visit us at http://srcteachers.ning.com

* Whilst the stories are based on real experiences, the names contained within the article have been changed.

Have you had to deal with negative behaviour from an SRC Member ?
How have you handled the situation ?
Do you have any additional suggestions or advice ?

 

Ultranet Share N Tell

Ultranet_Share_n_Tell

On the first Monday of each month, I help to present the online PD series “Ultranet Share N Tell” with Mel Cashen and Anne Mirtschen. The Ultranet is an online learning management system being used by government schools within Victoria that has been developed by the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

We have been running these session for just over a year now. Links to recordings  of previous sessions we have held are available through the Guide to Innovation Ning operated by the DEECD Innovation and Next Practice Division.

Our October session was action packed with lots of sharing from our participants. It  was also the first session we held using the new Blackboard Collaborate. This meant that a number of us had to get our heads around where the tools we were used to using were located.

 
The session included:
          A short chat about activities being undertaken during school holidays. Participants shared Teacher’s Games experiences, housework and cleaning, catching up with family, cleaning out RSS Feeds. Jenny Ashby joined the session during her trip to Coolum. She talked about her experiences whale watching and mountain climbing during her trip.
 
          Mitch Hughes popped in quickly to plug  the upcoming Melbourne Teach Meet Session on Friday October from 1-3pm at Pascoe Vale PS. Scott also mentioned the great video explaining what a teach meet is that was put together through sponsorship from BrainPop UK 
 
          Graeme Henchel from the DEECD Ultranet Team at Central Office joined us as Wendy McPherson is currently in Arizona. He talked about current testing being done to OSL (Orracle Student Learning – The Learning Tasks section of the Ultranet) to improve. Should be released in the first week of Term 4. 
 
          Over the next few weeks the Ultranet Coaches space will be converted into a space for all lead users. New space should have about 4500 lead users as members.
 
          Jenny Ashby asked about the possibility of receiving some form of notification when students post or add to a blog or wiki. Graeme mentioned about the possibility of using the activities portlet within the space. Possibility of e-mail notification in the future (but no promises!)
 
          Scott made mention of an e-mail received from the Ultranet Team regarding a possible student focus group trial  looking at the content landing pages. Trial would involve both primary and secondary students. Contact Sandra Phillips (Philips.sandra.l@edumail.vic.gov.au) at the eLearning Branch of DEECD.
 
          Heather Carver, Ultranet Coach from Casey Central, shared her new blog titled “Ultranet – UltraEasy”  . Will focus on the simple things on how to use the Ultranet. Discuss about exporting Ultranet Spaces as templates to save others re-inventing the wheel. Ultranet spaces are exported as a LAR file.
 
          Estelle Pizer tweeted earlier in the week seeking ideas for systematic approach to managing student portfolios templates or ideas. Mel Cashen talked about using the wiki template within the DEECD Student Goals and Portfolios Design Space and as pictured on the slide in the session. Heather talked about creating nodes for wikis. A node is a way of combining 2 wikis together. She talked about moving away from nodes as they were not easy to use. Some schools replaced using a wiki with them creating a community space where the student creates, the teacher moderates and the parent is a member. Portfolio Community Space would be added to the portfolio eXpress space as an iFrame. Having done this with 800 students it was hard work with many steps.
 
          Graeme expanded more about the use of nodes. Discussion about the use of portfolio space and that it should operate more like other spaces within the Ultranet that allow for pages and subpages.
 
–     Mel asked about how to go about creating a node within a wiki. Graeme has created a space titled “wiki display processes” that explains nodes. Within Ultranet wikis, there is a little spanner within the wiki allows you to create the nodes. Like all things within the Ultranet, simple once you know how !
 
–     Jodi Woodward and Mel Cashen raised the question about creating a space where we could all share our templates. Heather talked about the complexities of a seperate space and the likelihood of people going to it to download. Discussion about greater promotion of great space and the inclusion of some templates within the Content.
 
–     Jenny asked about process to export a space. Graeme explained that some browsers have issues with exporting .LAR files. Might need to use Firefox as your browser as some other browsers think it may be a differnt file extention. 
 
–     Heather promoted a new Collaborative Learning Space being developed around Melbourne Cup Day  based on the Literacy and Numeracy Collaborate Learning Space.  
 
The next Ultranet Share N Tell is scheduled for MONDAY 7th NOVEMBER at 8pm.
Session deatils and links will be posted on the Guide to Innovation Ning