- Year 5 Maths: 1 Transcript
- Year 6 Maths: 1 Transcript
- Early Years Literacy: 3 Transcript
- Year 6 Science: 2 Transcript
What informs the decisions we make?
Making criteria-based judgements even when comprehensive lists of possible evidence of learning and achievement are provided is not as straightforward as it might seem.
Many factors impact on the reliability of evaluative judgements especially in the variable contexts of schools and classrooms:
- the school-based teacher educator’s perception of their roles and relationships with pre-service teachers
- the learning stage of the pre-service teacher, i.e., beginning, intermediate, graduate stage
- the school-based teacher educator’s interpretations of both criteria and evidence statements
- the conditions under which the assessment takes place, (contexts matter)
For school-based teacher educators to make reliable decisions, subjective opinions must be replaced by criteria and a range of possible evidence of different standards that are explicitly defined, consistently applied and drawn from a range of examples produced over time.
Relationships matter. The relationship between the pre-service teacher and school-based teacher educator can affect the assessment of professional experience outcomes against Graduate Standards. Many school-based teacher edicators want to be and are generous with their time, support and skill-sharing. Yet, at the end of each placement, they are obliged to make the call: has this pre-service teacher achieved enough to pass this professional experience round? Have they demonstrated sufficient skills and understanding to move onto the next stage of their professional experience and course? Hard, complex, and weighty choices must be made and these are high stakes: failing professional experience means at least another placement will be required and, in some instances, a repeat of a substantial part of the course. Repeated failure will mean the end of the journey to become a teacher. Failing a pre-service teacher is never done lightly or easily. Some school-based teacher educators wonder how well they have succeeded in their role and how this reflects on them as a professional.
In his 2010 article entitled ‘Losing the joy’: Student teachers’ experiences of problematic relations with host teachers on school placement, David H. Johnstone notes “the importance of positive relationships in helping students to develop confident professional identities” (p. 308) and goes on to say that “learning to teach is underpinned by, and embedded in, relationships with others” (p. 309). Time spent with an experienced and reflective teacher can make a significant contribution to pre-service teachers’ understandings of the work of teaching, can provide a powerful sense of their own learning and growth and can inspire them to become as competent as their school-based teacher educator. A sound relationship between mentor and pre-service teacher is viewed by many educators as a critical component in initial teacher education. The absence of this very important relationship, however, many not only influence the learning of the pre-service teacher but may also be a factor that influences the objectivity of the assessments conducted by the school-based teacher educator.
Nevertheless, the expertise and courage of school-based teacher educators in making judgements about pre-service teachers’ readiness to teach – and in being prepared to fail those who are not ready – is a critical dimension in the preparation of the next generation of teachers. Because of their expertise, school-based teacher educators are often on the ‘frontline’ when pre-service teachers who do not (yet) meet the required standards are failed. In the long term, such a decision, while never easy, can benefit the pre-service teacher and, indirectly, the children who they may come to teach in future classrooms. Hard decisions are sometimes necessary for the wellbeing of all concerned.
The relationship between school-based teacher educators and pre-service teachers is a dependent (fiduciary) relationship. Relations of power do not disappear just because people wish to be collegial, or because they believe in ‘equality’. Although all teachers are held to high ethical standards and are accountable for their practices through codes of conduct, among any group, there will be a wide range of values and beliefs. This can be healthy and provide for rigorous and productive debates as people work through differences to come to common and agreed upon goals. These differences, however, should not influence the criteria, what counts as evidence or the judgements of quality based on them.
Working closely with the terms of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, consideration of Possible Evidence for Judging Achievement of Graduate Standards 1 – 5, and matching evidence to criteria developed from the Standards will enhance the reliability of judgements made by both school-based and university-based teacher educators.
In this section, drawing on the work of the three communities of reflective practitioners who brought to Project Evidence a wealth of experience as school-based teacher educators, we explore dimensions of making judgements about pre-service teachers’ readiness to teach and consider what school-based teacher educators might do to assist them in identifying strengths and developing areas of need. Using the Graduate Standards and with particular reference to evidence-based decision-making, the proposed activities aim to help examine what such judgements might entail. We do so with the aim of stimulating discussion and deepening understanding among supervising teachers, highlighting the complexities of the mentor-pre-service teacher relationship and, as well, assisting pre-service teachers to deepen their knowledge on what they are expected to know and be able to do at each stage of their learning journey. On what basis are they being ‘judged’?
Making judgements on the basis of learning stages
The Australian Graduate Standards outline what a graduate teacher must know and be able to do. As such they provide useful guidelines for assessing the end point of the initial learning journey. There are many stages along the path to completing an initial teacher education program and at each of these stages, pre-service teachers learn and rehearse new skills and knowledge, while they practise and strengthen skills and understandings developed earlier.
Activity – Taking account of learning-to-teach stages when making judgements – Part 1
View the video of Demi who is a pre-service teacher in a Year 1 classroom. As a teacher or pre-service teacher, after looking at Demi’s video, to list four things that you think she is doing well in the short interaction you’ve viewed.
View the video of Kyla who is teaching a Year 6-7 maths class. Again, note four things that you think Kyla is doing well in her interactions with students.
Imagine that you are a school-based teacher educator of both these pre-service teachers. Where would you ‘place’ each of them on a continuum of learning to teach that stretches from ‘just beginning’ to ‘about-ready-to-graduate’?
- On what basis do you make your judgement?
- What evidence would you offer to justify your location of each of the pre-service teachers on the continuum?
- How do you as a school-based teacher educator, manage the difficult conversation with a pre-service teacher when you must tell them they are not going to pass the placement? Who do you look to for support?
Activity – Taking account of learning to teach stages when making judgements – Part 2
What should a pre-service teacher know and be able to demonstrate at the beginning, middle and end of their professional experience in schools? Choose one of the Graduate Standards and draw up a table of evidence that could be used to make judgements about which stage the pre-service teacher is at in relation to that Standard.
Below is a sample of some of what other teachers have identified in regards to Graduate Standard Four:
Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments.’ In Focus 4.1 the Graduate should be able to ‘Identify strategies to support inclusive student participation and engagement in classroom activities.’
Materials developed by Project Evidence CoRP teachers
Look carefully at the criteria listed for each stage. What do you think is missing? What would you change?
|Beginning Pre-service Teacher||Middle level Pre-service Teacher||Graduate level Pre-service Teacher|
Review your notes on the two pre-service teachers, Demi and Kyla in Activity 1:
- Where did you place Demi on the continuum? Where did you place Kyla on the continuum? What was the distinguishing evidence that enabled you to make these judgements?
- Which of the descriptor statements best captures what you saw each pre-service teacher doing?
- Would you change your assessment of them on the basis of the three different stages of descriptors presented in the table above?
Interpreting and Elaborating Criteria – Specifying the Evidence
Ensuring that the information on which judgements are based is drawn from multiple sources and a range of assessment events administered over time means ensuring that each pre-service teacher:
- experiences a variety of settings and rich learning and assessment opportunities
- is provided with clear and consistent expectations and agreed-upon criteria (See ‘Evidence’ section) and that these are used to make judgements about development and achievement
- receives clear and specific elaboration feedback
|Elaboration||Includes explanation about why an answer or action was appropriate, effective, productive or inappropriate, ineffective and unproductive. Provides opportunity and resources to relearn and revise performance.|
You used some positive strategies and students responded to them. You used positive reinforcement such as ‘good job’, ‘well done’ with specific students. This is very powerful in reinforcing positive work and behaviour habits and also with building their confidence.
|Attribute isolation||Presents and discusses the quality of performance relative to the central attributes of what is being learned (e.g., learning activities and resources, or strategies for grouping students during a lesson).|
You use a variety of strategies specified in the School’s Behaviour Support Policy and Strategy and teach these to the students to ensure they understand your expectations. You use them throughout lessons and are consistent. Well done.
|Response contingent||Describes why an inappropriate, ineffective type of action or product is wrong and unproductive and why alternate types of actions and/or products are more appropriate, effective and productive.|
Being a teacher goes beyond lesson times. You are a teacher every moment of school time (and beyond if you encounter your students).
The students need to see you as part of the teaching team at all times.
Please don’t just sit at the desk unless you are taking formal observations of my lessons. Any marking or planning needs to be done outside of class time.
|Hints||Provides timely and ongoing prompts or cues guiding the student in the right direction to learn about and use alternate types of actions and/or products more productively.|
Try to focus more on the positive behaviours with students and reward for this more often.
Think about the more subtle, non-verbal, forms of behaviour management like eye contact, body position, hand gestures and proximity (standing next to someone who isn’t listening) instead of just the generic attention grabbers. These are very effective and students pick up on them fairly easily. They are non-confrontational for students too, so they don’t get singled out as often. These take time to get used to and you need to build a rapport with students for them to respond to you more.
|Bugs||Misconceptions are explained with error analysis or diagnosis.|
Although it’s important to acknowledge all contributions made by students in a manner that is open and accepting. You must be clear when their contributions are not correct or are unproductive. Whole class activities need to be seen as learning opportunities. If you accept or let an incorrect contribution stand without appropriate followup. All students will think that it’s right. Accept the effort, correct and move on.
Well done dealing with Jordan. Some students will question or come up with alternative ways of doing things. Teachers need to acknowledge their thoughts and decide on the spot whether to follow them or not. You can say “Yes, that is a good point. You can write that down as well as what I have on the board if you like.”
|Informative tutoring||Includes verification feedback [i.e., informs students of the appropriateness of their actions, products] error flagging, and strategic advice and models that will enable the student to develop effective alternate plans and/or lesson resources, etcetera.|
You engage well with all students during the times you are teaching. They are responding well to you.
I would like to see you engage with the students more outside of your teaching lessons. In the mornings, during or between lessons is an excellent opportunity to really see what they are doing and get to know them more. Developing that relationship and trust is a huge part of behaviour management.
Shared understanding of the evidence that will count as achievement of a particular level of proficiency and Graduate Standard should form a transparent and fair basis for assessing pre-service teachers. “[F]acts and theories … rather than personal beliefs and feelings” (Cowan, 2010, p. 323) form the basis of reliable judgements and advice to learners.
Graduate teachers are expected to be able to teach particular groups of students and teach in a variety of ways, each tailored to particular groups – for example, students with disability, (1.3) or students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds (1.6).
Activity – Taking Account of Stage of Learning when Making Judgements about Pre-service Teachers’ Performances
As a school-based teacher educator, how will you make a judgement that your pre-service teacher has achieved either the first or second of the developmental stages in Graduate Standard 4.2?
What would you look for?
Download Taking Account of Stage of Learning Activity.pdf and complete the first two sections
Compare your responses to those produced by other teachers
|Beginning Pre-service Teacher||Middle level Pre-service Teacher||Graduate level Pre-service Teacher|
How does the evidence that you would look for or aim to demonstrate differ from the completed list? Why might this be so?
Moving through the stages
What can school-based teacher educators do to assist their pre-service teacher to develop the necessary evidence at each stage? When we asked our Communities of Reflective Practitioners to consider this question, they came up with some clear suggestions.
|Pre-service teacher at Beginning Stage||school-based teacher educator can:|
|4.3 ‘Demonstrate knowledge of practical approaches to manage challenging behaviours’||
|Pre-service teacher at Beginning Stage||Supervisor/Mentor can:|
|4.4 ‘Describe strategies that support students’ well-being and safety working within school and/or system, curriculum and legislative requirements’||
Activity – Judging a Practical Performance
View this video of Kathie who is teaching a Year 6 Maths class.
As Kathie, reflect on what you have demonstrated during these six minutes of teaching, what would you be able to point to as ‘evidence’ of moving towards or achieving Graduate Standard 4.1 and 4.2.
As Kathie’s school-based teacher educator, assess this as an end-of-placement performance. In that context, where would you place her on the continuum with regards to Graduate Standard 4?
What ‘evidence’ would you use to explain to Kathie what she was doing well?
What advice/help would you provide her to suggest areas that could use improvement?
During placements, pre-service teachers experience a variety of contexts: different educational authorities and systems, schools, year levels, subject areas, classrooms, student groups, and different social, economic, cultural, and even political environments.
While each of the pre-service teachers must demonstrate that they have ‘met’ the generic standards, the contexts in which they work can be very different, therefore, the ways in which they ‘meet’ the Graduate Standards will also be different.
Activity – How does Context Affect Ability to Meet Standards?
The pre-service teachers in this selection of videos are focusing on different areas of learning, subject areas and class/group sizes and classroom conditions.
Kathie and Kyla are each teaching a mathematics class with approximately the same year level of students – but are dealing with different topics.
Demi is working with a small group of Year prep students
Todd is teaching a secondary science class.
View each video.
Identify the ‘differences’ in teaching contexts and judge the impact of any of the following factors on the performance of the pre-service teacher:
- discipline areas
- age of students
- topics within subjects
- classroom arrangements
- size of classes,
- ratio of boys to girls in each class
- cultural and/or linguistic differences within a class
- students with special educational needs
Consider how these differences in context and conditions should affect the criteria and evidence used to make judgements about quality of performance on any of the Graduate Standards.
Consider the degree to which these differences in context and conditions would affect your expectations of the performances of each pre-service teacher.
- What, if any, impact might professional experience in different contexts and with very different groups of students have on pre-service teachers’ ability to demonstrate that they are moving towards or achieving the Graduate Standards?
- How can school-based teacher educators make judgements that are ‘reliable’ across different contexts and when pre-service teachers are working with very different age and ability level groups of students?
- How might school-based teacher educators work towards ‘comparability’ in making judgements about pre-service teachers’ readiness to teach given such diverse settings and given different groups of students?
Activity – Considering Contexts when Making Judgements
Consider Graduate Standard 1
- What evidence do you think would indicate that the pre-service teacher is developing the skills to differentiate the curriculum to cater for different learning needs? What should a beginning, mid-way and soon-to-be graduate be able to demonstrate?
- What artefacts, or exemplars or practices would be useful in order to make a judgement about the foci 1.3 – 1.6 in Standard 1?
- How could a school-based teacher educator scaffold a pre-service teacher who is mid-way through their course to develop the requisite skills and strategies to competently deal with differences—in contexts, among students?
Feiman-Nemser, D. (2001) Helping novices learn to teach: Lessons from an exemplary support teacher. Journal of Teacher Education, 52(1) 17-30.
Hamel, F. L. & Jaakso-Fisher. (2011). Hidden labor in the mentoring of pre-service teachers: Notes from a mentor teacher advisory council. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27(2), 434-442.
Johnstone, D. H. (2010). ‘Losing the joy’: student teachers’ experiences of problematic relations with host teachers on school placement. Teacher Development, 14(3), 307-320.
Lampert, M. (2010). Learning teaching in, from, and for practice: What do we mean? Journal of Teacher Education, 61(1-2), 21-34.
Wang, J., Odell, S. J., Klecka, C. L., Spaulding, E, & Lin, E. (2010). Understanding teacher education reform. Journal of Teacher Education, 61(5), 395-402.