Evidencing Professional Practice = Improving the Profession?

I have recently been pondering on the question of what should constitute sufficient evidence of highly accomplished practice and how one goes about assembling said evidence in such a way as to convince someone who does not know me or my practice.

And whether it means anything to do so.

I have been engaged in a trial, looking at how teachers can meet the National Professional Standards at the higher levels, ie. how teachers can demonstrate high performance. The AITSL standards for Australian teachers are ‘live’ in 2013 and I heard on the radio recently that annual performance reviews would be required of all teachers.

There are 37 dotpoints associated with the 7 overarching standards. To demonstrate high performance, I am being asked to provide evidence (via a Case Study or Narrative approach) on a set of distilled elements from these 37 dotpoints, these being called “The Eleven Essential Elements” (see below)

ImageIt is taking a LONG time. Not only time to try and tease out what some of these elements actually mean, but then how my practice relates to them and then how to show that I am addressing them in a deliberate, authenticated and purposeful way in relation to student learning. I am quite enjoying the writing part, I have to say. I have always written my way to understanding what I really believe and feel about something. I use writing as a way of processing and analysing. I write my way to truth.

But I have queried on many an occasion – is this all worth it?

What is the ‘it’ I am heading towards?

Yes, it is about pay. It is about kudos. It is about a pay structure for teachers based on merit, not merely years of teaching. (And experience does not necessarily bring excellence with it). But I can’t help but feel the time and the angst I have put into this project could perhaps have been better spent actually working with teachers and students…something ‘real’.

And then I had a conversation with another teacher who was doing something similar for an internal evaluative process and she said what I had been thinking : “Is all this effort I am putting in worth the end result?”

And my immediate gut response was “Yes”. And so I stopped to tease that out. Why, given my own current experiences, did I react immediately and so firmly with that ‘yes’?

Because ultimately this process is not about the individual teacher. It’s about the profession. It’s about taking what teachers do and celebrating that and making it more transparent to those outside the profession. It’s about showing the community at large that it is a complex and complicated role that requires expert domain knowledge, expert knowledge of learning and how to engender, monitor and improve that learning for every single student, and how to do all of this with excellence. It’s about showing that not just anyone can teach.

And it is for this reason that I will keep going with it. With all its hassles, its over-reaching in abundance as to what can realistically can be achieved in the long term, its controlling little boxes in an attempt to standardise the process.

I will try and keep the horizon of hope in my view.

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About Linda

I have been involved in secondary mathematics education in Victoria, Australia for over 25 years.
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