Teacher training

Do you have convictions? Then you can still be a teacher

Jo Muir helpfully reports:

Initial education providers take into account convictions based on their severity, how recent they were, the age of the offender and the pattern of offending.

All candidates have to:

  • Be vetted by police
  • Display respect for people, the law, other views and cultural and social values
  • Be reliable and trustworthy
  • Be mentally and physically fit
  • Have the potential to uphold the public and professional reputation of teachers
  • Promote the safety of learners

How many existing teachers would fail those tests today? ?And they wouldn’t even be subject to a Teachers Council complaint.

Children are being taught by trainee teachers with drug and assault convictions.

The standards for gaining entry to teachers’ colleges are different from those required of registered teachers, meaning some trainees accepted onto courses would never meet the standard for teaching.

Nearly 50 applications for teacher registration were declined by the Teachers Council last year for reasons including convictions, not having the right qualifications and not being of a good character. ? Read more »

Children want to be led by talent and enthusiasm, not union hacks with a certificate

The teacher unions and their flunkies in the Labour party hate charter schools. One of their arguments is that there isn’t a requirement for trained teachers to be in charge of classrooms. They are taking their lead from the same battle that is happening in the UK.

Labour in the UK are running the exact same lines, lines that are without merit.

What makes a great school? It?s a question that obsesses parents, professionals and politicians alike, and there are all manner of theories bandied about. But, really, it?s rather simple: you must put your students first. And in order to do that, you must hire only the very best people to teach them.

At our Academy school, we don?t mind whether or not our staff is QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) trained ? a basic freedom that private schools have long enjoyed. We have trained dozens of high-quality, enthusiastic men and women over the past few years and retained the best ones, qualified or not.

During this time our school, despite being based in the disadvantaged seaside town of Weston-super-Mare, has become one of the best in the UK. Our GCSE results have eclipsed those of schools in more leafy suburbs and placed us in the top few per cent nationally.

So it came as quite a shock to learn this week that if Labour wins the next election, some of our staff will be among the 5,000 untrained teachers to be told they must gain a formal qualification or face the sack. ? Read more »

Holy Grail of high-quality teaching

? Sydney Morning Herald

While the NZEI and NZPF are telling schools and teachers to break the law in New Zealand, in Australia league tables are being heralded as the way to find the holy grail of high quality teaching:

Given that the My School website now contains publicly available data which purports to identify the schools achieving excellent outcomes (as measured by the controversial NAPLAN tests), why aren’t the next generation of teachers being sent to those high-performing schools to learn the tools and tricks of the trade?

Gathering data from students to raise public awareness of educational issues is a necessary first step, but the next obvious step is for the federal and state governments to use the data to solve educational problems. A further step could involve identifying high-quality teachers and targeting them as trainee teacher supervisors. How about tasking the Institute of Teachers with identifying good teachers who are also good mentors? What a transformative resource those teachers could be.

Using the knowledge we already have in smarter, more connected ways is necessary if we want to grab the Holy Grail. Creating links between the NSW Department of Education (which needs quality teachers in its most disadvantaged schools) and the Deans of Education faculties (who want quality experiences for their undergraduates) is an obvious one. Their needs are symbiotic, so they should be listening to each other and working together on research, trialling and implementing what they find out. A model for this can be found in the medical sector at the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, where research and practice are intertwined.

This approach should also solve a problem at the university end of the equation, which is the quality of feedback given to students by academics who are supposedly supervising them during their pracs. I have known students who have never seen their supervisor during their pracs, let alone shared time in a classroom with them. The Grail we are seeking is teachers with the ability to link theory with practice through self-critical reflection. Some do it instinctively – and many of us have been lucky to have been taught by one or two of them – but the rest need to be nurtured into understanding why thinking critically is so valuable to professional teachers.

Those university lectures about theories of how most of us learn, why some of us can’t learn like the others, why most of us behave a certain way, while others do not, might seem a waste of valuable time to young teachers, who are in a rush to get out there and ”do it”, on their own, in a class of 30 students.

But for someone like me, who has spent decades in classrooms from kindergarten to university level, those theories are what I fall back on when I try to work out why I couldn’t give the lesson I’d planned because a student in my class couldn’t actually read the question, or was unable to follow more than one instruction at a time or chose to disrupt others in the class for reasons that weren’t immediately obvious to me.

Reflecting critically on those failed lessons, which are a part of every teacher’s classroom experience, is what’s needed – working out what went wrong, when and why. Why some students didn’t learn and why others weren’t interested. The ability to get better learning outcomes from students next time, through this kind of reflection, is where high-quality teachers get their edge.

It’s this kind of thinking that needs to be at the core of our university teacher training courses and the supervised pracs of trainee teachers in our schools.

Quality teachers is the key

Many people hold up Finland as the idea schooling system. They don’t have standardised testing, charter schools and a whole bunch of other things that allows the vested interests of the NZEI and PPTA to hold up as an example of a proper functioning education system. The one part the unions won’t tell you about though is the drive for excellence amongst teachers:

Finland?s highly developed teacher preparation program is the centerpiece of its school reform strategy. Only eight universities are permitted to prepare teachers, and admission to these elite teacher education programs is highly competitive: only one of every ten applicants is accepted. There are no alternative ways to earn a teaching license. Those who are accepted have already taken required high school courses in physics, chemistry, philosophy, music, and at least two foreign languages. Future teachers have a strong academic education for three years, then enter a two-year master?s degree program. Subject-matter teachers earn their master?s degree from the university?s academic departments, not?in contrast to the?US?the department of teacher education, or in special schools for teacher education. Every candidate prepares to teach all kinds of students, including students with disabilities and other special needs. Every teacher must complete an undergraduate degree and a master?s degree in education.

Because entry into teaching is difficult and the training is rigorous, teaching is a respected and prestigious profession in Finland. So selective and demanding is the process that virtually every teacher is well prepared.

Imagine of our teacher training were so?rigorous. A great many of the?problems?in our schools would?dissipate?almost instantly. Here, instead, teachers demand respect they do not deserve nor that they have earned.