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Monday, January 15, 2018

Oral Language in the Classroom- a Snap Shot.

It's been a while since I have written a blog and as I was pondering the year ahead I thought it would be most useful to stand back and view the landscape as I see it.

I have been an advocate for raising the importance of oral language teaching and learning for well over 10 years now and I guess it is fair to say it has been a part time occupation.  This is not by my choosing of course.  Many of us working in the sector have had the same experiences- seeing a need, hearing a need but not being able to deliver to the need.....because funding and prioritizing against national standards gets in the way.

Late in 2016 the the Ministry of Education announced its new framework for the delivery of Professional Learning and Development into the sector. Many welcomed it, many looked sideways at it with great suspicion and there were many qualified and skilled facilitators who were cut out by this change.

Late in 2016, I was given accreditation to delivery this PLD in my specialist field, oral language. Much excitement ensued and plans were rolled out to be able to collaborate with other facilitators and to connect with all the schools that wanted to add oral language PLD to their calendars. EXCITING STUFF! (Here is were we discover that 'all that glistens is not gold') What happened? The same challenges that I had faced prior to the announcement of the new structure still lingered but even more were loaded on top. This blog is not going to be about me having a whinge about the MOE because the I know that the MOE is just made up of people who are doing their best, day to day to delivering policy that sometimes doesn't work well, or even make a lot of sense. I also know that the school leaders and the teachers who face the children of NZ every day, just get on and teach. They are some of the most resourceful, resilient and creative people I have ever worked with.  Work arounds, robbing Peter to pay Paul, external funding applications, cake name it they will find a way. And good on them but it is hard work. The question is, should it be hard work?

What I am seeing now is many schools slowing down making PLD decisions for 2018, waiting and seeing what is going to replace National Standards, wondering if the new PLD system will change under a new Minister?  All the while, teachers and learners wait and the facilitators have to explain the situation to their accountants!  Same old, same old. 

I have recently moved to Auckland and it is exciting to see the work that is being done through Comet Auckland and their Talking Matters Programmes.   While their work is mainly focused towards The Early Years, they are forging the way in the region with the the help of the NEXT Foundation and the Auckland City Council. They can be our guiding light and our motivation. 

So where does this leave me (and many others I am sure)?  Still a part time advocate and passionate facilitator for all things Oral Language in the Classroom.  I'm ok because I own a business that has diversified, that is agile and resilient. I'd just like to be spending more of my time making a difference in this, as I finalise my budget projections and create my promotional plan I wonder what will this year will hold?  Perhaps the MOE might take a look into its crystal ball and let us all know.