Please email if you'd like to join the network. Once we've established a sizeable group of relief teachers, we'll be organising workshops for those who are interested.
"The best educators are the best learners. They can adapt to tomorrow's contexts, technologies, languages" (AITSL)

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Teaching Standards: A Nationally Consistent Approach

As you may or may not know, the Victorian Institute of Teaching conducted informational sessions in October throughout the state for principals and school leaders. These sessions were in general a brief on the changes happening to registration as Australia moves towards National Standards for teachers. I was invited by Dawn Colcott of the VIT to attend the Melbourne session at Ethiad Stadium last week. It was an extremely informative session, and for only an hour it was filled with a great deal of details of which I was unaware. Here's a bit of what affects you the most as CRTs:

In Victoria, there are approx 118,765 registered teachers
Of these, 102,645 are fully registered, which means 1/10 teachers are provisionally registered.
Of the new registrants this year, 1,000 teachers have overseas qualifications, 756 have interstate qualifications and 4300 Victorian qualifications.

In order to register with the VIT, you must have an approved qualification or equivalent and proof of at least 80 days teaching practice. A principal or similar will confirm that you've conducted this teaching practice and that you're competent enough to be registered. A major change effecting overseas-trained teachers is that your 80 days teaching practice obtained overseas will no longer qualify you for full registration. This does not mean you won't be registered, but instead that you will be provisionally registered for 2 years, during which time you need to prove yourself a competent teacher by conducting at least 80 days of teaching practice within Australia/NZ and gain a recommendation from a local principal/school leader who's observed your professional teaching manner. This will make it that bit more difficult for overseas-trained CRTs to obtain full-time teaching work, however I was assured that CRTs would not have to conduct the 80 days all within the one school, and that a principal from any school which you've worked even a few days can submit a recommendation. Australian or New Zealand trained teachers with evidence of achieving the standards will receive immediate full registration. Click here for a detailed graph of the new registration process for provisionally registered teachers, and here for a support website geared towards provisionally registered teachers in Victoria.

To renew registration you must have 10 days teaching practice and 20 hours professional development. Teaching practice can be anything from tutoring to a full-time teaching position, so long as you prove that you've acquired the standards. The new National Professional Standards for Teachers have been developed by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) to "reflect and build on national and international evidence that a teacher's effectiveness has a powerful impact on students, with a broad consensus that teacher quality is the single-most important in school factor influencing student achievement. Effective teachers can be a source of inspiration and, equally importantly, provide a dependable and consistent influence on young people as they make choices about further education, work and life". These standards are split into three domains: Professional knowledge, Professional Practice and Professional Engagement, and for the large part stay fairly consistent to the VIT teaching standards they replace despite moving from 8 standards to 7. AITSL is a national body established to promote excellence in teaching and school leadership. They are committed to the key principles of equity and excellence in the education of all young Australians, in order to cultivate successful learners, creative and confident individuals and informed citizens.

The renewal process is currently transitioning from every 5 years to annually, due September 30th every year. The VIT has extended the deadline this year as they were a bit late getting the renewal forms out to everyone, deadline for fees was yesterday, so from today teachers must pay a $30 late fee in addition to their renewal fee unless they are able to communicate extenuating circumstances that have caused their delay. Teachers must provide suitability to be a teacher (current and satisfactory National Criminal History Record Check, declarations related to suitability) and Professional Practice (at least 10 days teachings in the past year, at least 20 hours professional development activities). When declaring your Professional Development, you must now reference the National Standards rather than the Victorian.

All the new nationally consistent elements of teacher registration will go into effect December 31, 2012 for new teachers, but the new renewal process won't affect those teachers already in the system until October 1, 2013 (to avoid any issues with provisionally registered teachers).

Overall, the main thing I gained from the briefing session is that the VIT is a reasonable authority, judging every case-by-case and accepting legitimate explanations from eager teachers who just miss deadlines, fall slightly short of requirements, etc. So don't hesitate to plead your case (if you've a valid one) or provide suggestions! There will be someone to listen and, at the very least, provide a great deal of advice and guidance. Furthermore, I think it's extremely important as teachers that we never lose site of the necessity to be judged at the highest of standards. AITSL's new national consistency is a good way to ensure teachers throughout Australia aren't coasting into and throughout the profession, but they alone are not enough. The standards we hold ourselves to should be far greater than the bare minimum of the national or state regulations, and they should require a daily effort and unrelenting strive for greatness.

To see a copy of the briefing session PowerPoint, click here.

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