Sunday, 18 June 2017

Changing Times for Teachers Reflected in Changes in Our Teaching Standards

In July, 2017, teachers will be held to new benchmarks of their professional practice through 6 Teaching Standards which will replace the 12 existing PTCs (practising teacher criteria).
The new (but, still draft until July 2017) standards can be found at this link here on page 37.
Included in this publication is the new Code of Professional Responsibility which replaces the existing Code of Conduct for teachers.
The new (draft) standard titles are:

  1. National Context
  2. Professional Learning
  3. Professional Relationships and Behaviour
  4. Learning Focused Environments
  5. Design for Learning
  6. Teaching

So what will change for teachers and principals at the coalface?  Probably not a lot to begin with, except a new awareness of the professional responsibility to aspire to make changes in areas that they may not have pursued.

The new standards have imperatives around commitment to the national context of biculturalism.  Commitment means a lot more than tilting at windmills.  It means making changes to your practice that reflect understanding of this country's true heritage to the point of "specifically and effectively address the educational aspirations of Māori learners" as an example.

Critical inquiry into practice continues to be a major focus, with collaborative problem solving coming to the fore and the associated essential professional learning to improve impact on the learners.  Reflect on the old adage for this one - "if you do things the same way you get the same results".

Professional relationships, as crucial as ever, and I do chuckle to myself at the words "work collegially and collaboratively" as indicators, when I remember being mocked in the past for my constant reference to these words when I talked to teaching staff as a senior manager.

Maintaining learning focused environments which are collaborative, inclusive and safe should put an end to the old teaching style with never a word being allowed to be spoken between learners. Learning SHOULD be collaborative.  Assessment not necessarily so.

Design for learning will mean attention to the big picture including teaching to the edges in your class rather than the middle.  This nebulous sounding concept will perhaps take the most time and thought each year as teachers and whole staff grapple with their curriculum.  What do our students need to be, do and know, and why do they need to know it?  No more - "we are going to do a unit on the monarch butterfly in term 3" because that is what the teacher knows.

And that concept is also reflected in the "Teaching" standard which requires us to "teach and respond" to our learners to "progress their learning at an appropriate depth and pace".  For who knows what our learners will show interest in, what their needs will be, and for how long they will be interested in it and need it?

My hope is that teachers will focus on what these standards and indicators will mean to them, rather than the mechanics of changing their portfolios of evidence.  In other words, critical inquiry into your own practice with a cognisance of the new standards that are your benchmarks.

I highly recommend that you keep a tagged blog for your teaching standard eportfolio, with a site as a secondary measure to showcase your best practice examples for each of the standards.  The new Google sites can be used as a central storage spot for these purposes.  You will get the idea from this tutorial.

Look out for updates to this topic over the next few months.