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Advice from experienced teachers/PTs/Science coordinators etc...

Discussion in 'Teaching overseas' started by Masfar, Feb 2, 2011.

  1. ey folks,



    First of all stick with me as I try to explain myself and if you manage to read to the end and understand virtual chocolate all around!



    I work in a very small private school in Mexico City. This is the third year of being an IB school for them so things are very much a work in progress. When I started all the pupils had to chose either Biology or Physics as their Group 4. Chemistry can only be done as a second subject to fit in with the National curriculum.

    We are a prepa which means the last three years of high school. The kids com in at 14/15 and do 5 IGCSEs in one year - one of which is Combined Science. They then go on to IB in the second and third years. All of the kids are Mexican so English is a second language for all of them.



    When I started pretty much EVERYONE was stuck into IB Biology regardless of ability. Only the kids doing Maths SL were allowed to take Physics - Maths studies kids did Biology. Obviously this is not the ideal situation and with a lab that is too small for classes of over 20 and a severe lack of equipment I have struggled.



    Luckily management have been supportive and I am getting a purpose built biology lab next year. I have also convinced them to run Environmental Systems next year as well which seems to be a lot more accessible for 'non-scientists'.

    The IGCSE Science is also being changed from the format it has been taught in the last few years. At the moment the GCSE kids are getting 2 periods each of Bio, Chem and Physics from the various teachers and sitting the alternative to practical. We take turns every week to give them a lab. Next year the whole course will be taught with one teacher and they will be doing coursework instead as it is better training for IB and we will each have a lab so practical work will be incorporated in lessons as it should be and not every third week as it is at the moment.



    The problem lies herein. I am the only Bio teacher, with one Chem and one physics. The school have hired a teacher to come and ease the teaching load (take a third of my timetable) but she isn't a trained Biology teacher. She's a TEFL teacher with an undergrad in Ecology from 5 years ago. SMT also want me to cut back teaching hours to co-ordinate science as a department.



    So how do I:



    Write a scheme of work and implement environmental systems
    Teach IB Bio and ES
    Teach IGCSE
    Coordinate IGCSE science from being taught subject specifically to putting together a course that can be implemented by ANY science teacher regardless of speciality.
    Mentor the new teacher
    Do all of this without working 24 hours a day 7 days a week (at the moment I teach 8 periods a day 5 days a week 7.30am-3pm with very few spares)


    What would you advise as a plan of action. Which classes would you delegate to the new teacher (remembering that she has 1 year to teach the whole IGCSE combined science course and she isn't trained to teach high school.)

    I am wary of letting her near IB with such little experience but maybe I am just being territorial. At the same time the IGCSE is important because it trains them for the IB. And teaching non-specialist subjects when you haven't taught your own is a big ask for anyone.



    Any thoughts, hints tips for a plan of action for my SMT would be greatly appreciated



    (or I could ask for money for a PCR and just clone myself)
     
  2. Don't know how to edit my post to make it readable so re-posting with spaces!!

    Hey folks,

    First of all stick with me as I try to explain myself and if you manage to read to the end and understand virtual chocolate all around! I work in a very small private school in Mexico City. This is the third year of being an IB school for them so things are very much a work in progress.

    When I started all the pupils had to chose either Biology or Physics as their Group 4. Chemistry can only be done as a second subject to fit in with the National curriculum. We are a prepa which means the last three years of high school. The kids com in at 14/15 and do 5 IGCSEs in one year - one of which is Combined Science. They then go on to IB in the second and third years.

    All of the kids are Mexican so English is a second language for all of them. When I started pretty much EVERYONE was stuck into IB Biology regardless of ability. Only the kids doing Maths SL were allowed to take Physics - Maths studies kids did Biology. Obviously this is not the ideal situation and with a lab that is too small for classes of over 20 and a severe lack of equipment I have struggled.

    Luckily management have been supportive and I am getting a purpose built biology lab next year. I have also convinced them to run Environmental Systems next year as well which seems to be a lot more accessible for 'non-scientists'. The IGCSE Science is also being changed from the format it has been taught in the last few years. At the moment the GCSE kids are getting 2 periods each of Bio, Chem and Physics from the various teachers and sitting the alternative to practical. We take turns every week to give them a lab. Next year the whole course will be taught with one teacher and they will be doing coursework instead as it is better training for IB and we will each have a lab so practical work will be incorporated in lessons as it should be and not every third week as it is at the moment.

    The problem lies herein. I am the only Bio teacher, with one Chem and one physics. The school have hired a teacher to come and ease the teaching load (take a third of my timetable) but she isn't a trained Biology teacher. She's a TEFL teacher with an undergrad in Ecology from 5 years ago. SMT also want me to cut back teaching hours to co-ordinate science as a department.

    So how do I:

    Write a scheme of work and implement environmental systems

    Teach IB Bio and ES Teach IGCSE Coordinate IGCSE science from being taught subject specifically to putting together a course that can be implemented by ANY science teacher regardless of speciality.

    Mentor the new teacher

    Do all of this without working 24 hours a day 7 days a week (at the moment I teach 8 periods a day 5 days a week 7.30am-3pm with very few spares)

    What would you advise as a plan of action? Which classes would you delegate to the new teacher (remembering that she has 1 year to teach the whole IGCSE combined science course and she isn't trained to teach high school.) I am wary of letting her near IB with such little experience but maybe I am just being territorial.

    At the same time the IGCSE is important because it trains them for the IB. And teaching non-specialist subjects when you haven't taught your own is a big ask for anyone. Any thoughts, hints tips for a plan of action for my SMT would be greatly appreciated

    (or I could ask for money for a PCR and just clone myself)
     
  3. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    Going to be honest, I haven't read your story and I have no idea what your post is asking. I suggest you work on the quality of your piece and represent it.
    Précis the importent bits and introduce a few paragraphs. If you need to use up two posts to say what the issue is you have clearly said too much.
     
  4. MM How rude!
    Sometimes its tricky to sort out the posts and your response is very unhelpful.

    I'm not a science specialist but I read the post (didn't take long or too much effort MM) and I have no advice but can sympathise with a tricky situation. Hope someone has some better advice for you!
     
  5. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    Your advice, on the otherhand, is outstanding. [​IMG] I'm sure the poster is grateful.
     
  6. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    I sympathise.
    You've done the right thing pressing for more resources and opening Environmental Systems to take the heat off Biology. Management has been supportive, even taking on extra staff, the costliest of all soutions and something we always need persuading to do.
    But you are not entirely convinced by their choice.
    My advice is that if you are not to go under completely, you must take a deep breath and trust her from the beginning.
    If she gets the impression right from the get-go that you see her as an underqualified stopgap, a partial solution whose function is to take the least interesting work off your shoulders while annoying you by bleating for advice, she will most likely just drop into that role, with or without resentment. If you are a bloke, such resentment may take a lethal feminist tinge.
    If on the other hand you welcome her unreservedly as a colleague of equal standing who has arrievd to help you build the department and strengthen the school's IB offering, then she may very well rise to the occasion. Don't be 'territorial' about all the good work you have done hitherto, and do go out of your way to show that you value her TFL background - very useful in a school with few native speakers - and her Ecology degree, handy because you're setting up EnvSys.
    Of course you'll need to be lucky, also - she will have to be a good 'un herself - but my point is, treat her from the beginning as if she were just that.
    Muy buena suerte, y ¡hasta la Victoria siempre! PS As for spaces and paragraphs the software here is faithfully mated to ploddy old IE Explorer and chastely resists the advances of Opera, Chrome, Firefox and the other flashy aristos of the browser world.
    PPS Stay around. You'll get used to MisterMaker, the sweetie, we oldtimers love him on here.
     


  7. <font size="3">Lo tomo por aludida&hellip;</font><font face="Calibri">No confundes admiraci&oacute;n pura y sana con algo m&aacute;s all&aacute; por culpa de dos clics de m&aacute;s. [​IMG]
     
  8. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter


    If I were you two, I'd get a spell checker, your spelling is so bad you're no longer making sense; it's almost like you're speaking another langauge.

     
  9. You've made me smile, MM. [​IMG]
     
  10. Sorry about the formatting - I tried twice and it looked okay until I posted it. I was using Chrome on a MAC so that´s probably why.

    I totally take on board the advice about being positive and giving her a chance to rise to the occasion. You guys are right, I´m terrible at delegating and I need to be more postive. So do I let her go with ES? I still feel I should desing the course though....is that wrong?
     
  11. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    If you were using a real computer [​IMG] I'd suggest you spell check in word before copying to notepad, then copying again to TES; I presume you are not typing directly into the formm but pasting from something, as Chrome shouldn't tamper with the way the form is processed.
    This is the only forum I've come across that using odd coding which causes what is typed to appear different. Something many miss is the preview tab at the top. Check with that to see what will be shown after clicking post.
     
  12. I suggest you do the same
     
  13. Arepa

    Arepa New commenter

    Wise words, as usual, from Don Dude, I am pleased to see you are receptive to them. I was in a similar situation with very limited resources, particularly with regard to qualified teachers. First, I would recommend that you only offer Biology HL and move all SL students to Environment Sciences. When I did this, there was problem for a year because there were still some Bio Sl first years who had to move on to their 2nd year, so I combined the HL class which was small with the SL class. I arranged the schedule so that the HL students would have two extra hours a week. It worked. This step, I believe, is critical because it lowers your course load significantly for Biology, so your new teacher will come in having to share a 40 period science program, not a 60 or 70 period one with additional ES courses on top of separate Bio SL classes.
    You still will need to adjust your teaching schedule. The school is overworking you and something will have to give. They also need to utilize your full potential which should involve, in my opinion, using your talents to design new schemes of work for the IGCSE, implement ES, and train new teachers (stress this when you submit your plan to the school). Thus, I would give the new teacher ES, following the advice of the Dude and several IGCSE classes. She should have between 20-24 periods a week, leaving your 16-20. You would then use the extra time to design the curriculum and mentor the new teacher: meeting regularly and sharing lesson plans and assessments. I recommend that you go for the 16 periods a week, since so much of your time will be spent on curriculum design and helping the new teacher: perhaps, as often as one period a day.

     
  14. This is awesome advice - would you mind if I printed it out and shared it with SMT?

    Would it be to unreasonable to ask that if I am going to get all this extra responsibility then I should have this reflected in my pay?


     
  15. Arepa

    Arepa New commenter

    Please feel free to pass on any of my suggestions that you see fit. Regarding your question about asking for a raise. It obviously depends on the financial resources of the school, your SMT and your relationship with them. On one hand, they could say that "since you are asking for a 50% reduction in instructional time, why should we give you more money". However, they might receive quite favourably such a request if it accompanied a solid plan for curriculum development over the next one to two years. This plan would involve: creating a scheme of work for IGCSE Science, ES, and Biology HL, lesson plans, assessments, and laboratory experiments (Investigations), and, most importantly, well designed Group 4 Projects. Add mentoring the new teacher and it might be very attractive to your SMT. This way, when you finally depart, you will be leaving quite a valuable legacy to the school. Good luck. Let me know what happens.
     

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