Supporting Teachers in Obtaining Full Registration

The last five years I have suppoprted graduate teachers in obtaining full registration via the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT). Graduate teachers are often feeling overwhelmed at the start of the year so I always give them some time and space to get used to the daily routine of school life before sending them a copy of the email below.

If this is something you oversee in your school and would like some further information on how I go about managing the enitire proces with each graduate teacher, be sure to get in touch!

Dear [name],

Hope the term/year has started well for you and you are settling in nicely to your new role.

Just wanted to touch base with you about the VIT process at some stage within the next few weeks. If you could let me know some suitable times that would be great – we should only need 20 minutes or so.

The purpose of this meeting is just to make sure you feel supported and understand the requirements of moving from provisional to full registration. There is a suggested timeline in the body of the email below, and I have also attached a VIT publication which has a wealth of information.

In summary, VIT will require of you throughout 2018 to;

  • select a class or group of students and assess the level of learning and factors affecting learning
  • determine what they already know, curriculum expectations, and identify learning outcomes
  • develop a question for inquiry
  • deepen professional knowledge and refine skills to respond to the identified area of inquiry
  • use this new knowledge to establish and implement an action plan to improve student learning
  • assess the learning of students
  • document your learning
  • reflect on the effectiveness of practice on the learning of the students and the implications for future practice and professional learning

Further information is provided in the attached eBook.

Gathering Evidence for Full Registration – Suggested Timeline
A template is provided to assist in the documentation of evidence to demonstrate the standards of professional practice for full registration.

The following timeline gives a guide to when the components of this process could take place, however if you are wanting to get it done sooner rather than later, we are more than happy to expedite the process:

Term 1: Find your feet and begin to understand the VIT requirements for full registration
Term 2: Continue to develop practice, have a mentor observe your class, observe other classes
Term 3: Use an inquiry-based approach to investigate student learning
Term 4: Organize evidence and plan for College panel meeting. Apply for full registration.

See VIT Resources via the VIT website for templates and work/evidence samples. A checklist which succinctly breaks down what is required is also available.

[Name] is excited about being your mentor through this process.

The role of your mentor is threefold:

  1. To assist you in visiting and observing at least one other class.
  2. To organize with you three classroom observations and then engage you in a professional discussion about what they observed.
  3. To sit on the final panel with the appropriate Head of School & the Director of Teaching & Learning before final submission of evidence for full registration. The purpose of this panel is for you to talk about the work you have undertaken, and to ensure that all requirements have been met up to the Proficient Teacher standard of the AITSL teacher standards.

I promise you that the process is not as scary as it all sounds! Look forward to discussing with you in the next few weeks.

Trusting our Teachers

Much of the recent discourse regarding teacher education and the profession of teaching is about raising standards. This accountability paradigm insists that boosting the quality of teaching, increasing the standards of entry into the profession and improving the quality of teacher education programs will improve student outcomes. Student outcomes in this case are often narrowly defined.

Marilyn Cochran-Smith shared at the 2018 AARE conference that this accountability paradigm has emerged based on five policy, political and professional influences, namely:

  1. Unprecedented global attention to teacher quality tied to neoliberal economics.
  2. Teacher quality defined as teachers who produce large gains in student improvement.
  3. Continuous public narrative about the failure of teachers and teacher education.
  4. Teacher education defined as a policy problem focused on outcomes.
  5. The teacher education establishments own turn towards accountability.

These five influences have infiltrated, permeated and embedded themselves so deeply that they are often seemed to be self-evident. This tacit struggle is a form of cultural/political domination that de-professionalizes teachers and simultaneously reduces agency and voice. This narrative legitimizes certain institutions, practices and interests, produces policy based on contested claims and hyperbole and positions education reform as a simple cure for inequality.

What can those working in schools actually do? No one I talk to is arguing that teacher quality doesn’t matter. We want the best teachers teaching. We also have to value those that we have in the profession and provide the structures and level of support to move beyond individual and collective appraisal and explicit improvement agendas, to a system that has a focus on learning, growth and pedagogical quality. We do this through trust. By trusting our teachers we can change societal discourse, elevate the profession and perhaps somewhat counter-intuitively, increase levels of accountability. Not accountability to state or national standards, but accountability to ourselves, to our colleagues, to the students in our care and their families. A collective accountability that becomes a responsibility to enhance our profession. A moral responsibility to focus on what matters. A responsibility to tell our own stories, to change the narrative, to create our own visions and to define what counts as a successful education in our contexts.

In my experience the way schools typically enact teacher accountability and performativity measures is to have an appraisal process in place. In 2015, in conjunction with the introduction of a new professional learning model, I removed the need for our teachers to be judged on an annual basis and introduced a process based entirely around individual and collective growth.

From the communication that was sent to staff about the change.

It is recognised that The Geelong College has a responsibility to provide teachers with access to meaningful professional learning opportunities. It is also recognised that teachers are responsible for their own learning and responsible for ensuring professional learning is undertaken and the requirements for teacher registration are maintained.

In recent years teaching staff at The Geelong College have participated in a biennial Appraisal process to assist in the development of their professional skills and to document professional learning. Annual Learning Projects have become important self-determined professional learning experiences for teachers seeking to investigate their professional knowledge and practice. These projects are shared with colleagues annually and they have helped to stimulate greater vibrancy in the professional discourse among teachers. Over the last year or so, the Appraisal process has become increasingly aligned to Learning Projects.

The emerging strong relationships with Deakin University through the Centre for Learning, Research and Innovation (CLRI) and the professional value of the Learning Projects have resulted in an increase in the level of interest in post graduate research degrees among the teaching staff of The Geelong College. This is an exciting and significant development informing the next step in the ongoing development of our approach to the professional learning of teachers.

From 2016 it is proposed that a change in terminology be adopted moving from ‘Appraisal’ to ‘Professional Learning Program’ (PLP). It appears the term Appraisal no longer reflects the nature and needs of the College.

At some point every two years teaching staff will meet with the Principal (or delegate if appropriate) to review their PLP.

Key components of the PLP

  1. Annual Learning Project – this is to relate to professional learning and may include action research projects or the development of special projects related to improving student outcomes (academic, pastoral, co-curricular). A variety of methods and approaches can be adopted and may include, but not be limited to, classroom observations, interschool visits, action research projects and professional presentations
  2. Conference/course participation – documentation of participation in professional conferences and courses. This can be as delegates or presenters.
  3. Professional engagement – demonstrated professional engagement such as professional reading, VCAA marking, working with graduate or undergraduate teachers or other ways of contributing to the development of professional skills of other educators

*As a caveat, we still have a performance management and professional conduct process in place that can be evoked if needed.

In my experience, appraisal processes in schools are draconian in their implementation, or such a waste of time that they become a tick-the-box exercise. What we did was a fairly simple shift from appraisal to professional learning. The bi-annual meeting with the Principal or delegate now becomes a chance to talk about individual interests, contexts and passions, in a non-performative setting, that is influenced by a coaching approach. It was an initiative that was very well received across our community.

Systemic issues abound and can become overwhelming. But there are always small things that can be achieved in your own sites and contexts. A focus on trusting teachers is a good start.

What is Learning?

At the end of 2015, we asked the teaching staff at my College their thoughts on learning.

This is what they had to say.

 

What is Learning? from CLRI on Vimeo.

Also have a look at the ‘Behind the Scenes‘ footage for an insight into the making of ‘What is Learning?’

 

There is nothing wrong with this picture

Today I spent the day with Grade 3&4 students playing & designing in Little Big Planet and learnt more about them in 4 hours than some teachers would in six months – and yet, some teachers would scoff at this picture and say that it isn’t rigorous and nothing of value could possibly be going on here. Play is for home. Play is for ‘free-time.’ Play is for children and only after the ‘hard work’ has been done…

At its most basic level, play fosters creativity and imagination and connects pleasurable emotions to learning. This is what ‘back to basics’ should be all about.

Play with your students. Get down on their level. Learn with them.

It’s empowering.

LBP 2