As part of my school’s preparation to accommodate the changing ‘professional development and appraisal’ landscape as a result of the AITSL work in developing the National Professional Standards for Teachers, we’re aiming to articulate a clear sense of vision, and to explore what, specifically, we need to investigate to produce meaningful guidelines for our particular context.
As a statement of vision , we have drafted the following:
The vision of the committee is to define, continuously review and update a Teacher Performance and Development Framework, based on current educational research, which aims to:
- Develop procedures to enable every teacher to achieve high standards of teaching in order to optimise student learning, achievement and well-being
- Develop a culture of continuous improvement in teaching and learning
- Establish structures that embed collegial collaboration and professional sharing.
We have then identified three areas in which the working party needs to be able to offer concrete illustrations and explanations to those for whom the framework is designed:
1. Identify the “technical core” of teaching:
- Articulate what we believe “great teaching” is, making explicit what constitutes the “technical core” of teaching as well as what it looks like in practice;
- Understand how students of various ages learn, both at school and beyond.
2. Professional Development:
- Analyse current professional development practice to identify what is effective and what is not, specifically in regard to PD that leads to change and improvement and the most suitable learning modes for adult learning (that is, teachers);
- Develop structures, routines and habits that make sharing effective PD with others an integral part of the Framework.
3. Creation of a body of evidence:
- Identify and adopt processes/tools to provide evidence of student learning/teaching practice that aligns with the National Professional Standards for Teachers.
Our work is in early days but the timeline – ready for 2013 – means that our deliberations have some urgency. There is something to be said for deadlines!
My personal belief about these three might be summarised as follows:
- Ultimately, the ‘core’ of teaching is flexibility – to deploy particular ‘skills’ when formative assessment suggests students would benefit; to recognise from that formative assessment when it’s time to look around for alternatives and expand one’s repertoire; to change course when one way isn’t working, or another way, perhaps more fruitful, emerges from the collaboration in the learning process between students and teacher.
- Effective PD is, in my opinion, always collaborative at some stage. Even if the initial endeavour – say, reading, or study – is done as an individual, the ideas thus developed need to be tested in the crucible of collegial sharing.
- Documenting PD has to be seen as part of PD. That is to say, in the process of recording the developmental journey, development occurs. Through sharing that journey, and recording the shared ideas, development occurs. Recording the way new ideas have been tried in lessons, how successful they were and how they might be improved next time, is a form of development. Once this idea of development – continuous, collegial, reflective – is established, it becomes clear what the appraisal process should focus on: the record of continuous, collegial, reflective development. There should be no need for staff being appraised to spend preparatory hours pulling together sheafs of evidence – simply, at an agreed time, the teacher and appraiser look at the development journey as recorded to explore the evidence that the professional standards are being met and to agree to what degree they are being met. Of course, this means organising evidence from the outset according to the appraisal framework – but this is easily achieved through tags and categories (did I mention that I see blogs as the key to this method of efficiently recording, tracking and sharing?!).
- Teacher quality depends on culture of development (smh.com.au)