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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Are you a "Top Performing Teacher"?

Back in May, the Australian Federal Government Budget 2011 announced the funding for $425 million over four years to reward top performing teachers.

I applaud the intent to improve teaching and learning. But if you have a scheme that rewards teachers individually, how do you measure that? How do you assess a teachers performance?

Do you reward Year 12 teachers for the marks their students get? What about the teachers that taught the students in the years before and the hard yards that they did with learning difficulties and individualised learning plans in order to get the kids to Year 12?

Do you also reward the people who work in student services for the mentoring they provide for the students or the library staff who help to improve the research skills of the students? What about the teachers that work in pastoral care, the ones that help to support good organisational habits or that encourage students to bounce back from an unsatisfactory result on a test or assignment?

How do you assess a teachers performance individually? What performance indicators can we quantitatively measure? Because comparing "Year 7 2011" with "Year 7 2012" is quite hard ...

So do you measure the top performing teachers on their ability to turn up to school on time, submit reports on time, publish articles in journals or on the more qualitative characteristics of the job such as their ability to conduct a parent teacher interview?

I am interested as to how the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership might identify a "top performing teacher". On their web site they have National Professional Standards for Teachers. But how do you then reward teachers, in some cases upto 10% of a teachers earning, based on this. Will it create a compeditiveness within a school which is counter productive to good teaching and learning?

Teaching for 16 years has taught me that teaching is a team sport. That without the pastoral care, library staff, technicians and support staff, my ability to deliver my curriculum is diminished.

If you speak to teachers about what impacts on their ability to provide an excellent teaching and learning environment, many will talk about the access to resources, clean and healthy teaching spaces and the time to design and delivery quality curriculum.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


As I sit here on my couch, tapping away on my iPad, I can't help but wonder how much schools are going to change over the next 15 years when my kids go to school. I can distinctly remember going to a CEGV Residential Conference at Deakin University in Geelong in the early 1990s, where the only access to Technology was via a Vax machine in the computer labs. I now have 24/7 access to the internet and the information that it allows me to access is endless. The research skills that were taught to my parents generation, are now undervalued by the students of today as more and more information is easily accessible. Computer "confidence" is confused with computer "competence". Flashy assignments are submitted to teachers with bells and whistles, but not much evidence of critical thinking or thorough research.

This blog has been created to track my journey into Teacher Librarianship, to reflect on the learnings through the completion of a Masters of Education (Teacher Librarianship). Professionally, I have been an Information Technology teacher since 1994, since before the internet became mainstream in classrooms. Having held many positions of responsibility in the area of IT and eLearning, I am now ready for a change.