I have been in my new role part time for the last three months - and what a time it has been! It has been such a privilege so far to be involved with so many different schools, so many different professionals, international academic and Welsh Government officials. At each different meeting, I am hearing the same message; the Welsh education system is at the dawn of a new era. The Cabinet Minister has set the ambition for the profession- to be one that is ‘always learning, improving and researching so that they develop and adapt’.
The new proposed professional standards give teachers the opportunity to do this. We have been asked as a profession to give our views- I wonder how many of us have done so? Are there still teachers who do not know this is happening? Sadly, I think this maybe the case!
Well, this is a call to respond!
We live in a democratic society where we have the freedom of speech; the freedom to express our views! We have been given the opportunity to be involved in the changes that are set before us in our profession. It is time for us to respond! It is time for us to take up the challenge and show we are proud to be part of this profession. And to show that we are indeed a set of professionals! The new proposed standards give us every opportunity to be professionals; they put learners at the centre of all we do. But they also put professional learning at the forefront! Notice here my use of ‘professional learning’ not ‘professional development’. I’ve heard this term so many times, used by so many people, in so many different contexts!
A politician is right...?
I’m not sure I would always agree with politicians or even say they are right! But in this case, Kirsty Williams is certainly right when she says ‘ I have often said that teachers themselves need to be the best students in the classroom’. We should indeed! We talk about modelling being a key pedagogical principle of excellence; therefore it is down to us to model this to our learners and to our ‘novice’ teachers. If we want our learners to be reflective, we too need to be reflective. We need to take control of our own professional learning and the new proposed teaching and leadership standards can help us to do this!
Expansive not reductive!
There a clear values and dispositions that every teacher displays. These form the centre of the professional standards. They are based on the clear principle that as professional we constantly strive for growth and we take responsibility for that growth ourselves at every opportunity. This is where the vision to use research comes in. We need to reflect, when we reflect, we are able to identify where improvements need to be made. From this, we need to engage with what others have found out; what our international colleagues are doing; what works well. This collaboration allows us as professionals to engage in a dialogue which centres on learning and teaching; it centres on how to improve. It is not a discussion about accountability; but one about how we can achieve the best possible outcomes for our young people.
For this to happen, we need to take ownership and start to move at pace towards a culture of professional dialogue, using the standards in a supportive and expansive manner rather than as a stick to beat us with, thus a reductive tool!
So what do they look like?
Within these dimensions there are no limits! It advocates that we are also all leaders!
Once we have achieved our QTS and have finished induction, we continue to grow and build our repertoire of skills, becoming a highly effective practitioner. In this, we never stop learning and we continue to strive for excellence. We do this, not as individuals but as a collective, using all opportunities to do this.
The new proposed standards are not a stand alone! You will notice the Curriculum for Wales, Successful Futures, as well as the reforms advocated by Furlong for ITE, are clear throughout. The four purposes underpin the standards; after all, no teacher can ever deny this is their purpose. These standards empower us all to make these purposes the centre of all we do! And importantly, they put learning and teaching and pedagogy as a key driver in this!
At this stage, they are proposed! This is a call for the profession to have their say! They have been developed with teachers for teachers. There are, of course, some concerns that have been put forward already; some would suggest the language is complex- perhaps too complex; some would suggest there is ambiguity due to some ‘grey’ areas; others would suggest they are open to interpretation. But perhaps all of these perceived negatives can also be considered strengths! So....what do you think? Take a look......have your say........and most importantly....once they are finalised, be more expansive in your outlook and engage with the standards by providing yourself with the opportunity for dialogue rather than waiting someone to do it to you or for you!
Have your say...https://consultations.gov.wales/consultations/new-professional-standards-teaching-and-leadership