This is the second of three posts about the aitsl Self assessment tool. The first post is here.
In the area of Professional Practice I have 3 areas of weakness. The self assessment tool very kindly calls them areas for development but I think in terms of teaching to strengths and overcoming weaknesses. Quite a bit of debate can be had about whether you reinforce strengths or weaknesses. Would you ask Picasso to learn to work on his ice skating because he was so brilliant at art? Maybe ice-skating would have given him a different perspective on his art.
Teachers are able to make learning engaging and valued. They
implement well-designed teaching programs and lessons, and
regularly evaluate their practice and assess student data to ensure
they are meeting their learning needs. They diagnose barriers to
learning and challenge students to improve their performance.
Teachers operate effectively at all stages of the teaching and
learning cycle: planning for learning and assessment, developing
learning programs, teaching, assessing, providing feedback on student learning and reporting to parents/carers.
The first weakness is:
3.7 L Initiate contextually relevant processes to establish
programs that involve parents/ carers in the
education of their children and broader school
priorities and activities.
I am not sure how I answered anything to come up with this as a response. I am not even sure what it means. Set up processes in a secondary school which involve parents in the education of their children and involve them in broader school priorities and activities? I am engaged to teach students French. Am I also obliged to teach their parents French? I am not trying to be funny. On a weekly basis I am in contact with parents, usually by email, to smooth over learning applications and difficulties or adjustments to assignments. Email contact can be time consuming but it does create a space where we can be in easy contact to ensure a student is able to access the curriculum comfortably . This can be done when they are away for whatever reason. I have a blog where my class materials are published for students to access from home. I can can always point the parents to that. We have a learner management system where I upload class materials and parents and students have access to that. It really helps and on parent evenings I usually find out that these things have been well received and have helped in a positive way. With junior students we have a project each term and parents often tell me they have enjoyed talking to their child about those sorts of investigations and areas of learning. Parents also like the technology activities I do with their children, so I regularly get good conversations about the sorts of things I do in class. The assessment plans do not include activities with parents but I do often encourage my students to talk to their parents about what we are learning and about French experiences. I include anything on our school site plan in my lessons and I teach to our school values which come into conversations I have with parents. But still,I am not sure what 3.7L means , though, so I do not know if I have met it or not and cannot think how to meet it. It is a reminder to myself that if I put down criteria for assessment I must ensure my students are clear about what they mean and that I teach them to ask for clarification. Our learner management system has a messaging facility which students have been using to ask me for explanations and reassurance. It’s a positive feature of our system.
My second weakness is:
4.2 HA Model and share with colleagues a flexible repertoire
of strategies for classroom management to ensure all
students are engaged in purposeful activities.
I think I do this. I have 3 blogs which focus on my classroom strategies and what is successful. I am always sharing materials and student work which has been successful. Our office has very robust and interesting conversations about how we manage our classrooms and the sorts of things we do to enhance and engender learning. Experience and sharing are great teachers. Growing ideas is exchanging good practice and then teasing that out into better practice. Often we meet each other and start with “How can I better…?” ; “What’s a good way of…?” and looking at practice from those angles can offer plenty of options and solutions. I’d say this has been a regular part of my teaching life so I am not sure how I got that response from the SAT tool.
My third weakness is:
5.5 HA Work with colleagues to construct accurate,
informative and timely reports to students and
parents/carers about student learning and
We have a school based and recommended reporting system. The process is described to us and we are expected to implement it. This does not mean we cannot make suggestions nor that it is set in concrete and never reviewed. I do not work with colleagues on this but when reviews are needed then a panel would be established or a specific consultation group. There are certainly aspects of reporting which need to be discussed within a faculty or at a leadership level because it is about consistency and equity for particular students. I don’t think I can meet this criterion as it stands.
The SAT tool doesn’t just highlight weaknesses. It also highlights your strengths. As such, you can see again that as a teacher I have to think about process, protocol and then what I can influence myself. As a teacher you do have to be there to teach to the needs of the students but there are a number of formal requirements and expectations. The professional standards are making me think about just how much I can influence and what I should influence and where my focus should be. Should all teachers be role models for other teachers? I have always believed teachers should be and have a mentor. It strengthens you. It is dynamic and it is about keeping others confident. Those are considered to be my strengths in this area. If they are considered my strengths I ought to be able to demonstrate and produce evidence to that end. Looking at what the SAT tool puts up as my weaknesses means I have to be able to reflect on that rationally and reasonably. I am after all a teacher. I have to assess others. I have to keep them confident. You cannot fall over because someone said you were not very good at something. Well, you can, but this is why teachers need to collaborate , share and reflect. It sustains them.