Trust in education

Trust in the school context, especially around the use of technology.

Archive for the tag “Home”

Trusting your 9 year old to use Snapchat?

Seen recently on Facebook:

Just found out that my daughter has a Snapchat account? Apparently for about a year now!!! How did I not know this??? I knew about the Twitter, YouTube and Instagram but not Snapchat!!! Yep mother of the year!!

Should a 9 year old have Snapchat? Probably not.  Like most social media apps, Snapchat is not inherently good or bad.  It’s how it’s used that’s significant.

Snapchat posts "disappear" after 10 seconds

Snapchat posts “disappear” after 10 seconds

Snapchat has a bad reputation.  The idea of it is that you send a picture with or without an associated line of text to a “friend” or “friends”.  The picture only lasts on their screen for between 1 and 10 seconds and then it is gone unless the friend screenshots it.

Of course it’s not really gone as nothing on the internet is ever gone but it’s not easy to get your hands on a Snapchat once the 10 seconds is up.

The bad reputation comes from its early use as a sexting app.  Some people are perhaps more willing to send compromising photos of themselves if they think they are not permanent. No doubt it is still used by some for sexting but for others it’s just another means of communication.

According to one teenager I interviewed, the attraction is that it’s quick to compose and it doesn’t have to be perfectly crafted because its existence is fleeting.

Nobody’s going to go back and critique your camera angles or your word choice.

By photographing your expression, emotion is conveyed which may not be obvious from the use of words only.

A selection of Snapchats sent to and by one teenager

A selection of Snapchats sent to and by one teenager

As usual, it’s all about digital citizenship.  If Snapchat were banned, people would find another way to achieve their purpose, whether it’s sexting or sending silly faces.

It’s definitely hard for parents to keep up with the latest popular app.

What parents and teachers need to do is keep having conversations with young people who are old enough to make wise choices about who to “friend” or not to “friend” on social media and how to make good decisions about what they post.


Trusting parents not to do children’s homework

I’m sure all teachers have been in the position where you suspect that a child’s homework has not been completed by that child.  It can be hard to understand the thinking of the parent (presumably) who did the homework.  In one case I remember I think the mother did it for the sake of a quiet life.  She certainly didn’t gain her son any academic advantages because her spelling was worse than his!

Should parents help children with homework?

Should parents help children with homework?

However, I am often surprised at the vehemence with which some primary school teachers insist that assessment pieces should not be done at home.  Their reasoning is that parents might end up doing the assessment for the child or significantly assisting them to do the assessment and that’s not a fair judgement of the child’s ability.

I don’t agree with that position for lots of reasons.  Here are some of them:

  • I know that as a classroom teacher, as hard as I try, there is no way I can give every one of my students the same amount of support and scaffolding and helping them at the point where they really need help as a willing and competent parent can give.  There just aren’t enough hours in the school day.
  • It’s common for secondary school and tertiary level assessments to be completed in unsupervised conditions. (Yes, some tasks are supervised but not all.)
  • In “real life” we can usually ask for help or access resources to help us complete whatever it is we need to complete.
  • Collaboration and critical thinking are skills we talk about as essential for 21st century learners.
  • Some assessment tasks can still be done at school to give a “balanced” view of what a student can do under different conditions.  Some children perform well under exam conditions.  Is it not giving them an unfair advantage if all assessment is done that way?
  • A parent does not do their child any favours if they do the child’s assignment for them.  It may gain advantages for them in the short term but in the long term that child is not equipped with the necessary skills to approach tasks in study or in working life.  Helping your child to learn how to research and apply critical judgement, to summarise and analyse is not the same as doing their assignment for them.

Yes, some parents are more equipped than others to help their children with schoolwork but there are a lot of factors which predict academic achievement, including parental expectations but also

  • teacher effectiveness
  • curriculum quality
  • school environment
  • prior student ability and motivation, and
  • socio-economic status.

I still think my major job role is to help children to learn, not to help them to ace tests.

I am a partner in children’s learning – along with their parents.

I teach them for a year.

Their parents teach them for a lifetime.


photo credit: <a href=””>OakleyOriginals</a&gt; via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;

Speaking the language of trust

When your child is very ill, you really have no choice but to trust the health professionals who are caring for her.

We have to trust doctors and nurses when we don't know anything about medicine ourselves.

We have to trust doctors and nurses when we don’t know anything about medicine ourselves.


This was my situation last week when I took my daughter to the emergency department on our local doctor’s recommendation.  Our doctor couldn’t work out why my daughter (A) was displaying the symptoms she had and for a few hours, neither could the staff in emergency.

To cut a long story short, she has been diagnosed with Addison’s Disease which is a rare condition and to make it more complicated, her symptoms did not fit the typical presentation.

I experienced a few of the most agonising hours of my life between the time the registrar in emergency told me that the possible cause of the symptoms was a tumour and the time the endocrinologist told me that the most likely cause was an adrenal or pituitary malfunction with tumour a long way down his list of possibilities.

When the CT scan results were normal and various blood tests confirmed the probability of Addison’s Disease, I felt a bit more weight lift from my heart.

No-one would choose to have Addison’s Disease but it’s a better diagnosis than a tumour.

I know a lot more now than I did a few weeks ago about endocrinology but it’s still not very much.  I have little choice but to trust in the knowledge and experience of the doctors treating A.

I have no reason to doubt their knowledge and expertise but admit that there were a few moments when I just wanted to bundle her up and take her home from hospital – away from cannulas and drips and blood tests – but I knew enough to understand that my love was not enough to treat her problem.

To bring this blog back to the realm of education where it usually lives, I quote John Hattie who wrote about home-school collaboration that it is when parents are able to “speak the language of schooling” that their children’s educational outcomes are positively influenced.

I don’t speak very much of the “language of medicine”.  I have to trust those who do speak it and luckily for us, A is being treated by professionals who understand it well.

Parents who don’t speak the “language of schooling” have to trust professional educators.  We are more likely to be trusted if we demonstrate that we understand and speak the right language but are also able to effectively “translate” for those who don’t speak it but have a right to understand what their child is experiencing.

Photo credit: Item 73713, Engineering Department Photographic Negatives (Record Series 2613-07), Seattle Municipal Archives.

Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. Abingdon: Routledge.

Trust Story 2 (Teacher-Parent)

The new P.E. teacher walked into the staff room and said something like, “Help yourself to some of this cake if you’d like some”.

The assembled teachers made polite responses like, “Oh, don’t you want to take it home?  Don’t you want to take any home?”

The P.E. teacher insisted that he didn’t want any of the cake and said, “Yeah, Hannah Cameron  gave it to me.  I don’t know why.”

The other teachers, many of whom had been at the school a long time and some of whom had taught Hannah or her sister, suddenly became more interested in the cake.

“Oh, Jane Cameron made that cake?  That’ll be a great cake.  She’s a fantastic cook.”

The P.E. teacher decided that he would take a couple of slices home after all.

Jane is a great cook and she shows her appreciation through her baking.  Her daughter, Hannah, is a talented athlete and Jane was probably showing her gratitude for the new life the new teacher was bringing to the school’s sporting program.

The teachers who knew Jane knew her as a supportive and contributing member of the school community and knew that she could be trusted to make a good cake.  The new teacher didn’t yet have enough experience of Jane to know whether to trust her or her cooking.  Trust takes time to grow and develop in all relationships.


Photo credit: <a href=””>woodleywonderworks</a&gt; via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;

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