Teaching Standards or Snakes and Ladders
Within the institution I currently work, Primary Teaching Staff are encouraged to evaluate their professional practice using The Australian Professional Standards For Teachers. Recently teaching staff were required to conduct self reflection and report to the Head of Primary with evidence of acquired teaching standards. I believe the exercise is advantageous. There are multiple influences of professional values and ratings.
There are four career stages within The Australian Professional Standards For Teachers; 'Graduate', 'Proficient', 'Highly Accomplished' and 'Lead Teacher'. As teachers improve professional skills and knowledge they move along the continuum. To evaluate progress there are standards that must be achieved and each have detailed criteria. In order to transition between stages evidence must be provided. The qualitative and quantitative data may include a host of items including reports, anecdotes, media, journals and publications. Expectations and complexity of tasks heighten between each phase with 'Lead Teacher' needing experience in the construction of policies, producers, frameworks and contributing to the profession of teaching. AITSL have created an application for educators to capture artefacts and track professional progress.
While all this sounds well and good, I believe The Australian Professional Standards For Teachers are like a game of Snakes and Ladders. I have been teaching for sixteen years. I have climbed many ladders and slid down many snakes. During this time I have transitioned between each stage. I believe I have been 'Lead Teacher' across numerous strands. I have constructed policies and procedures and have been actively involved in the implementation of 1:1 program that required multiple publications to ensure project success. I developed the P-6 Responsible Behaviour Framework and the document is still used today. I have invested in the lives of staff to achieve a paradigm shift in regards to digital pedagogy. As eLearning Coordinator I have worked "with colleagues to review, modify and expand their repertoire of teaching strategies to enable students to use knowledge, skills, problem solving and critical and creative thinking". I model quality teaching practice.
I have completed further studies and within my Master of Education designed an instrument for measuring teaching competency by merging The Australian Professional Standards For Teachers, Blooms Taxonomy and College values. I have been actively involved in improving my own education and contributing to school culture to improve educational outcomes. I have moved from being 'Graduate' to 'Lead Teacher' within my profession. In various aspects of the 'Domains of Teaching' I have only been operating as 'Proficient' or 'Highly Accomplished'. I have room for growth and improvement.
Schools impact teacher professionalism and ultimately achieved teaching standards, however, educational institutions are not ultimately responsible nor can be accountable for achieved teaching standards. Teachers themselves are responsible. Role changes, budget constraints and time limitations all impact professionalism and attained standards. Ladders function as opportunities of enrichment or promotion and road blocks operate as snakes that force academic staff to experience reduced productivity, proficiency and success. Regardless of circumstances, one thing is constant, snakes cannot be used as an excuse. In order to maintain proficiency teachers must continually reinvent themselves and discover new ways to advance professionalism.
As mentioned earlier my career path has changed direction numerous times. I have encountered Snakes and Ladders. Despite this I maintain professionalism and continually seek to grow professionally. I have reinvented myself on numerous occasions. Metamorphosis. I recently decided to become a Sunday School teacher at a local church. I now manage and coordinate the team of volunteers. I develop the Sunday School curriculum and have constructed a two year program. I dedicate time to invest into the lives of young children and have ultimately broadened my educational influence. If doors close or circumstances change... you may need to create your own ladders. Snakes provide more opportunities to move forward.