Socioeconomic Context

Statistical information about the socioeconomic status community in which the school I teach at is limited to the information made available in each Education Review Office review report. This only really informs me of the breakdown of the school students in terms of gender and ethnicity. This knowledge is supplemented by my own local knowledge and general understanding of the socioeconomic characteristics of the suburbs that fall within our school zone. This limited information tells me that my school is reasonably diverse in terms of ethnic makeup and that it draws students from suburbs that range from reasonably affluent to much less so.

 

In terms of the culture of the culture that the school currently seeks to create, much more information is available. This culture is most evident in our four school statements: Embracing Challenge, Building Independence, Celebrating Diversity and Developing a Passion for Learning. They are also evident in the Six C’s that shape our learning as a school that is part of the New Pedagogies for Deeper Learning project. These are Character, Citizenship, Collaboration, Communication, Creativity and Critical Thinking. These values apply both to teachers and students as both groups are seen as learners. As a school, we strive to create an environment which values learners as individuals, promotes students agency and independence, and encourages deep learning. We also seek to create a safe environment, both physically and emotionally, for students and staff.

 

In terms of issues arising from the socioeconomic context in which our school exists, the most obvious one would be the introduction of a BYOD policy given the economic disparity that exists among the parent/caregiver community. Our school encourages, but does not mandate, that students bring a suitable device to support their learning and teachers are expected to implement programmes that leverage our digital infrastructure. The challenge of having parents/caregivers that are not willing or able to ensure that their child has a device is not unique to our school. Unlike some other schools, we have decided as a school to make significant numbers of school purchased Chromebooks (120+) available across the school rather than adopting alternative solutions such as school or cluster led scheme to support students purchasing a device for their child. This means that all students have access to devices and ensures that educational opportunities are as equitable as they can be in terms of this area. It also allows for the use of ICT to be embedded into the practice of all teachers as they can be confident that students have the tools required to engage in learning with a significant digital component.

 

This has made it possible for the school to place an increasing emphasis on the use of ICT in classroom programmes. “Leveraging digital” has become an important component of our pedagogical approach, an understanding made clear by the importance placed on this aspect of teaching both in terms of PD and our ongoing teacher review processes. This expectation, along with the PD develop the necessary skills and understandings needed for teachers to deliver a digitally rich programme has created issues in the form of a perceived increase in workload. Given that coding will soon be added to the required digital knowledge, some staff do feel overwhelmed by what they see as a significant quantity of learning that they are required to master. Given the potential for the use of digital technologies to streamline some elements of teaching I am not sure whether or not this perceived increase in workload, in fact, real or not. However, our school culture has helped address this issue in that is highlights the important role that digital technology plays in our approach to learning while ensuring that teachers actively engage in this learning and develop and adapt their practice as a result of this learning because of the shared understanding that as teachers we have a responsibility to continue to adapt and develop our practice.

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8 thoughts on “Socioeconomic Context

  1. That certainly covers a lot of the issues that are raised as we enter this increased digital age. I do sometimes wonder about some of the skills our students are losing, like writing by hand. My daughter is at uni and they have had exams where no digital device is allowed and all writing must be by hand…bit of a shock for some. If the infrastructure and connectivity is secure and stable for increased ‘digital leverage’ within a schoo,l it certainly makes implementation easier.

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  2. A very interesting read as I teach at a decile 1 school and we have become a BYOD school, however very few students bring a laptop to school. However, most students are embracing the free WiFi on their phones. This is creating another set of problems in the classroom as well as the playground.
    With regard to the economic disparity one of the issues I am interest in is how you solved who received these Chromebooks (senior or junior school) and does the school subsidies families WiFi costs.
    As a school we assumed that by introducing Microsoft 365 in 2016 that students would work on work/assessments etc out of school and share with us. Although this is occurring in some households it is in fact widening the gap of those who have access to not only WiFi but also a computer out of school.
    As a classroom teacher there are so many benefits on digital collaboration yet there is a minefield when it comes to equity of students.

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    • Hi Joanne, I guess the need for teachers to learn to code is a result of two drivers. First, the need to develop classroom programmes that reflect the social and technological context in which learners find themselves. Second, the new digital technology curriculum will be in place from 2018 onwards and this will mean that coding will be something we need to cover.

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  3. I’m interested in the thinking behind the need for teacher to learn coding? My understanding of coding is limited to drawing pictures on Scratch and have introduced my students to Scratch and Gamefroot with very limited take-up. I have very technically literate students who embrace new tools when they have a connection or personal relevance. Other than creating simple games I cant see the need. Clearly I need to do research!

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  4. It is interesting reading your post. Our school has been in a similar position with initial fears around increased teacher workload with the implementation of coding and other digital technologies. With carefully planned PD and a gentle approach to implementation across the board the teachers have experienced the opposite. It has in fact resulted in a more streamlined workflow and opportunity to develop our skills alongside the students. The ability for the students to be the experts in the class and have greater input into effective pedagogy. Teachers have been supported to develop at their own pace and there is a great collegial atmosphere in supporting each other which has added depth to our relationships.

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  5. I had a little input into curriculum development but what i have seen teachers have a habit of adding undue pressure on themselves.
    Curriculum hardly mentions the ” cover this approach “.
    It just provides a guideline that this will be a suitable venue and try to explore with time and with a guide.
    Coding is not a new ‘thing’ . It has been in use for centuries.
    Try teaching kids ‘the Morse Code’ and even better if they make a simple electronic circuit themselves with two LED lights or Buzzers and practice it between the classroom.
    One does not have to buy expensive apps or learn C++ for this
    Melvin Din

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    • Hi Melvin, we have been looking at morse coding as part of the process of getting to grips with coding. Student worked with an arduino board to create an emergency beacon that flashed and buzzed an SOS message. It was a really good way of understanding HIGH and LOW states and timing.

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