The year of the sloth.


Every year the cohort of year 12 students has their own character. Some years are diligent, some are sporty, some are bland; you get the picture. Those of us who teach year 12 stand and look back at the cohorts on their way up, looking forward to some year groups, frowning and wincing a little at others. It really makes you think that the Chinese were onto something with their zodiac covering whole years, not just a month in every year. This current 2010 cohort were pegged as lovely kids, but lazy.


All year it proved to be so. I’ve been teaching year 12 for a number of years and I always think that they don’t do enough work, but this group? Both ESL (which doesn’t fit the stereotype) and mainstream English stopped and smelt the roses. Constantly. I think most of them bought plots of land and built little cottages in the rose garden. I had fewer practice essays than ever before, which admittedly made it nice for me, but unfortunately the kids weren’t doing it from consideration of my free time and how I’d like to spend it.


We viewed Results Day with grim foreboding. I thought I’d get 1 score over 40 in my mainstream class and 1 in ESL. There’s a lot of kids in both classes (particularly the ESL one) who should have scored 40 and above, but they weren’t putting the work in. It’s frustrating as a teacher, because we know for a fact what the kids don’t seem to grasp: that pure talent alone isn’t enough to score the highest marks. They need to put the work in to hone their skills as well.


Results came out yesterday. The school I work at is consistently at the top of results for the state, particularly when you only look at non-selective schools. That means that as long as you live in zone, we teach you. You could be a genius or a dribbling idiot – it doesn’t matter. A lot of the private schools gently move students on in earlier years if they’re not academically inclined, because they want their VCE results to be impressive to encourage parents to plonk down their 20K a year or so for little Tiffany and little Oliver’s education. (Now THERE’S some stereotyping for you! Sorry… I couldn’t resist.)

I don’t know yet where the school came overall in rankings, but I DO know that English at our school did very well. Our head of department was wreathed in smiles. My mainstream English class had 3 scores over 40 ( two kids who worked, one who didn’t but was so talented she should’ve gotten high 40’s if she had’ve practiced), though my ESL class had only the one 40+ that I’d predicted. There were a couple of kids in there who are really bright, but they were sniffing those damned roses for just a little too long and left their run too late. We had 2 perfect scores of 50 in English… one taught by my friend Gim, which is lovely, and lots of 49s, 48s, 47s.

There was a student in each class I taught who struggled and battled; English/ESL wasn’t their strong point but they kept writing essay after essay and shoving them under my nose for feedback. Each of them scored in the 30’s , which is a fantastic achievement. I know that they wouldn’t have scored what they did without that constant work so I’m extremely proud of them. Tonight is Presentation Night, where the high achievers of all year levels get awards for their brains, so we’ll find out then just how well we as a school did. We’ve been having a very good run over the last few years, so it’ll be interesting to see if that has continued or not.

Speaking of dribbling idiots who live in zone and so the school has to take them… we come to my sons. Their reports made for some interesting, pleasing and sometimes dispiriting reading.

p52401501I knew that Evan4 was partaking of the fruits of social popularity in year 8, but apparently he hasn’t just been limiting his socialising to outside class hours. His results in History were appalling, (they were doing medieval history! The black plague and stuff! How can that be boring?!?), his personal profiles of effort and class behaviour were dodgy in most subjects… though I was heartened to see he scored a 9/10 in Physical Education. (I’m lying here. I was cross. His best mark was made by running around an oval. I wasn’t happy, though at least his results in English and Maths were ok.) David2’s report was patchy, though he has health problems which excuse it slightly, ( but forgetting his calculator in the Maths exam and consequently failing it after I’d spent a heap of money on tutoring can’t be explained away by anything other than dribbling idiot-ness), and Ryan3’s report was just like himself… middle of the road, cool, calm and cruisy.

I also received my allotment of classes for next year. The school is offering a subject called English Language at year 12 for the first time next year, so the kids can choose to do straight English or this new subject, which is basically like doing grammar and persuasive language analysis for the whole year. A nit-picker’s delight! We have 2 classes worth of kids who elected to do this instead of English, so there are 2 less classes of year 12 English. Two teachers are Free!!! We were all waiting with bated breath to see who would get released from year 12 English next year. One of them is me. The other is our head of department. We’re teaching year 12 ESL together next year. (I’m pleased to be dropping one of my year 12 classes. It’s a lot of work, particularly after hours and the subject is so prescribed that there really isn’t a lot of scope for exploring and enquiring like we have in the younger levels.) I also picked up year 9 Drama, which I’m pleased about. I haven’t taught Drama for 3 or 4 years and I really enjoy it. I also have  2 year 8 English classes, which will be fine because this year 7 cohort are a nice bunch of kids.

We’re winding down to the end of the year. There’s a lot of meetings and planning and prep over the next few days and then we have the whole of January to call our own. Seriously, I’m really exhausted, so I can hardly wait.

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9 Responses to The year of the sloth.

  1. Scott says:

    I’m not paying 20,000 for Oliver’s education – I’m home-schooling.

  2. librarygirl says:

    Yes, we have the zone thing for our school too…
    I find the dynamics of it all quite fascinating.
    And we have many dribbling idiots to equal the braniacs, so they are all getting the full spectrum of experiencing difference!
    I hear you about the school reports. Year 10 had “the best and worst report she’s every had” ( her words) depending on the subject…she’s doing the new eng. lang subject in Year 11 next year – and she IS a nitpicker, loves analysing newspapers, Gruen transfer etc. Year 7s report
    comes on Thursday, so one down, one to go.

  3. flirby says:

    Interesting to hear your comments on English language.

    My daughter is in year 11 next year and I was a little concerned about her dropping English for English language (talking of “idiotness” she dropped the 2 subjects she managed to score A’s in English & Art). I’m not sure she’ll be thrilled with her choice if it is predominantly grammar.

    However, she is the most stubborn thing on the face of this planet and there was no talking her round, so time will tell whether it was the right one for her or not.

  4. maybaby says:

    Oh huzzah!

    The English Language class sounds exactly like the Grammar and Composition class I teach to 6-9th grade.

    I’m pretty nit-picky, so I find it mostly fun…we do a lot of hands-on things like have students be clauses and punctuation and then dash around making sentences. This is particularly fun when we get to ordinate and subordinate clauses.

  5. kris says:

    I’m glad you are happy with your lot for next year! It makes life so much easier. We are waiting here for our year 9’s report. School is over and the report is reportedly coming “sometime” this week. She and the postman are about to become much better friends I think! (She’s been out 3 times already to check today)

  6. Jayne says:

    *snort* @ Scott homeschooling 😛
    If we were in zone you may have been ‘blessed’ with feral geek kid…tis the season to be thankful, Frogdancer! lol

    The English Language classes sound fab, do you not teach them or not get the choice?
    Distance ed for us in 2011!

  7. persiflage says:

    This was fascinating – all the highs and lows of the year, the students, the subjects and the teaching. How wonderful to have a nitpicking sort of subject, and high time too. Looking forward to learning how the school rated, too.
    I hope you enjoy the break, and inspire those afflicted by slothfulness to explore the alternatives. I do think, looking back on my sheltered and virtuous classmates, that round about age 13 we would have been frivolous and irritating enough to drive the most patient and saintly nun wild. and I remember getting sprung in the washrooms reading from what we all considered to be an extremely witty and scintillating piece of satire about the teachers, and Reverend Mother contacting our home, and wondering was I about to be expelled….

  8. libby says:

    i had two school reports, one was pretty glowing with high scores for the froglet…. no suprises. then the noisy one, well still no big suprises… i think she did ok but room for improvement in most areas…. i see a pattern though, IT very good, science very good…. she can do maths but chooses not to 😦 well done for getting through another year!!

  9. Katy says:

    I wish I could come to Melbourne to do my student teaching with you…sadly I don’t think Washington State would let that fly.

    And let’s not talk about my kids grades. *grumble grumble*

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