The literacy groups of Year 6 teacher, Mr Adrian Fisher, have been thrown into disarray after assistant principal, Ms Ruth Horan, admonished him for naming the lowest ability group the “Wombats”.
Mr Fisher says he has used the practice for years, “I started this system when Ruth told me I couldn’t display the ability groups in ascending order, with the lowest on the bottom of the board. She reckons some study demonstrated the students in the bottom group could see they were in the lowest cohort and it damaged their confidence. But they didn’t make the connection, they’re in the bottom group for a reason.”
I started this system when Ruth told me I couldn’t display the ability groups in ascending order, with the lowest on the bottom of the board.
Mr Fisher went on to explain his controversial practice. “When forced to display the ability groups in random order, I have to remember each groups’ ability level somehow. And Wombats are lazy creatures, low to the ground and scratch their butts most of the day. So when I’m working with the Wombats group I know I need easy work. The system works; you don’t hear the Wedge-tailed Eagles complaining about my system.”
The Grade 6 teacher continued to attempt to justify his actions. “It’s not as if the bottom group are Wombats for the whole year. I change the group names each term using a different theme. First term’s theme was the sea, so they were the Stingrays. You know, bottom-feeders that sit around doing nothing. Birds was term two so they became the Dodos. The fourth term will have a jungle theme and they were going to be the Sloths.”
I thought I’d delivered the message quite clearly to Adrian that his naming system was extremely inappropriate.
Ms Horan has warned Mr Fisher that he will be under close scrutiny for the foreseeable future. “I thought I’d delivered the message quite clearly to Adrian that his naming system was extremely inappropriate. Then I entered his room and discovered his numeracy groups have a weather theme. The lowest cohort were labelled the Droughts.”
Mr Fisher believes this is a case of political correctness gone too far. “If the students don’t want to be Wombats anymore they can work harder and I’ll move them up a group. While they’ll never be Wedge-tails they may become Koalas. You know, they sit around all day but at least they live up a tree.”