New Zealand Graduating Teacher Standard 7.b
Graduating teachers uphold the New Zealand Teachers Council Code of Ethics/Ngā Tikanga Matatika.
A few weeks ago I had someone “why were graduating teacher standards established in nz” and I thought “that’s a good question to which I don’t know the answer.” So I decided to blog on it and knock out another GTS post while I’m at it (because being on Teaching Experience I’m need to be a lot more efficient with my time).
Graduating Teacher Standards aren’t unique to New Zealand. In fact my project of blogging on each of the New Zealand Graduting standards was inspired by a Sydney-based student teacher blogging on the New South Wales version a few months ago.
The New Zealand stanadards were introduced back in2007 and came into effect in 2008. As you can see from the media release from the New Zealand Teachers Council, the reason’s behind the GTS were due to an eneven quality of teachers graduating from the myriad of New Zealand-based intial teacher education providers. This year’s graduates will be third chorot of students to have their perforance assessed against the standards and I’ve had some mixed reviews about the purposes of the standards.
To be honest upon first glance the GTS definitely fell into the ‘useless paperwork we fill in to make bureaucrats happy camp.’ A view that was obviously solidfied when the evidence I needed to gather for the GTS were literally forms to fill out. It wasn’t until I started reflecting on the Graduating Teacher Standards through blogging that I realised that they were more than just some annoying forms that the Teachers Council and the University makes me fill out, they are a conceptual framework on which I can hang my ideas on what I think makes good teaching and a good teacher. Being the giant nerd that I am, I’m already drafting my post against 7.c and am looking forward to finally publishing it because it will be the last post I make on this blog.
The first purpose of the Graduating Teacher Standards is obvious, they are used as an assessment tool for Associate Teachers and Visiting Lecturers to assess my progress. Looking back on my learning, I can see from formal teaching appraisals where I progressed from competent to strong on each of the Graduating Teacher Standards. I didn’t quite make goal of getting a clean sweep of seven strongs on one report but my last Associate Teacher gave me six out of seven so I’m pretty stoked about that.
The second purpose for the standards are more philosophical. Teachers are called upon to make hundreds of little decisions a day some of which are mundane does little Timmy get to go the toilet a few minutes before lunch through to biggies like suspected child abuse and the political minefield that is sex education.*
In the last 30 or so years there’s been a definite shift in thinking about the status of children within society. Previously a child’s interest was previously seen through the lens of parental rights. If you look at the language of legislation like the Care of Children act, the best interests of the child are at the centre of decision-making. Similar language can be found in the Teacher Council Teacher Ethics. While some would argue that best interests of the child is another example of PC gone mad, it makes sense to place the interest’s of the child at the centre of all decision making if you believe that children are people too.
So yes the Graduating Teacher Standards have some purpose and I’m really looking forward to beginning the next learning journey on the path towards full registration.
* My first meeting as a student member of my school’s Board of Trustees consisted on a very heated discussion on this very topic.
New Zealand Graduating Teacher Standard 1.a
Graduating Teachers have content knowledge appropriate to the learners and learning areas of their programme.
It was just a simple maths warm up called ‘guess my number.’ It’s kind of like hangman but for maths.
Now I’m sure you are rolling your eyeballs.
But the thing is this game is great for getting kids to use place value so long as you can make the thinking visible.
So we start with the learning.
WALHT: use place value to guess a 3 digit number.
I use 3 digits because that’s about where my year 1/2 learners are at. But you can go down to two digit numbers to start with or up to 5 or 6 digits depending on what your students learning needs are.
The success criteria is simple students will be able to explain how they guessed the number using place value. This means even mistakes are opportunities for learning if you ask the right questions.
I write 3 spaces and the students start guessing the number and put ticks and crosses beside the guess according to whether each number has a correct answer. So if a student guesses 124, I will tick 1 and 4 if the ‘answer’ is 194. Nine gets an X.
I will always give a ‘tick’ for one number on the first guess to start the students off.
From the second guess I will start asking questions.
How did you know to pick that number? What digits have ticks? What do you think would be a better guess for next time (if a student makes a guess that hasn’t used place value)? What digits do you think will have ticks?
A student wins when they are able to explain how the guessed all three places (which I point out is the success criteria for the game before we start playing).
What was amazing wasn’t how quickly students started using place value to make their guesses, but how they chose to adapt the game.
At the end of one warm up a student commented that he wanted me to record a plus or minus sign instead of ticks and crosses. So for the next lesson I use his suggestion and away we went. The students quickly figured out that using plus and minus signs meant the game was a lot easier because the symbols told them whether to pick a number greater than or less than the previous guess. So not only were the students were not only using the language of maths they had stumbled upon a key concept of probability, chance = favourable outcomes/total possible outcomes, and were now using it to improve their odds! I hadn’t even considered using plus or minus as a way to record answer which showes how agile children’s minds are when the right questions are asked.
I was dumbstruck that a simple warm up yielded such great learning moments.
The students have now decided guess my number is too easy and want to guess 4 digit numbers.
Who am I to argue?
New Zealand Graduating Teacher Standard 1.c
Graduating teachers know how to develop metacognitive strategies of diverse learners.
Primary teachers are expected to teach a very broad curriculum. Throw together some reading, dancing, writing, maths, science, music with a bit of technology thrown in for good measure and you might have a school teacher’s week. But if scratch underneath this broad curriculum and you’ll find that just about every teacher will have a problem area that they don’t feel confident in teaching in. Maths daunts so many learners that there was a component of my teaching diploma on mathsphobia.
But what about literacy?
I’m guessing that there aren’t many teachers out there who have problems with literacy because our education system can be brutal on learners who struggle with reading and writing.
Enter the dyslexic student teacher.
Having spent almost all my schooling life being labelled illiterate, the idea of teaching reading and writing was not a prospect I was looking forward to. The shame of having *THESE EXAMS WERE SAT UNDER SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS* emboldened underneath my grades on bursary certificate still burns brightly despite having since gained an Honours degree. In fact I have never sat another exam under those special considerations least that label pop up again. But this placement I finally had to come to confront this particular demon.
What my dyslexia looks like.
I frequent mix up the letters b, d, p, q and for some reason e and 3 also befuddle me. When I’m reading, especially out loud, I’ll often omit words or substitute words that look the same, for example accept/except or won’t/want but it is writing that really causes me problems.
My spelling is atrocious and the most accurate description of my handwriting is that it is like a drunken chicken making its way across the page (an actual quote from my school report). I can write neatly but only if I am concentrating on letter formation and nothing else. However if I want to write anything of any substance, the writing process for me is a bit like a Jackson Pollock painting. Bits of sentences and ideas get thrown around in no particular order and somehow a coherent argument emerges at the end of it.
Most of the time.
I’m sure at times I come across as a bit of evangelist when it comes to technology in education but the only reason I didn’t fail out of school altogether is because someone gave me access to a word processor in year 12 to write a story and I found away to get my thoughts into written form.
To say that was a game changer is an understatement.
When I am writing by hand I struggle to write a coherent sentence much less a paragraph, the words just seem to get stuck. However when I’m put in front of keyboard little snippets of ideas come out, they might not be in any order but once they are out for me to see I can start taking my garbled thoughts and putting them into a logical order.
This makes me wonder how many children there are out there educational system has previously discarded because their physical or cognitive differences didn’t fit the model of educational success which involved putting pen to paper in order pass exams. Every time I’ve seen technology used in the classroom, whether its an ipad for a student with cerebal palsey or blogging with students with Autism Spectrum Disorders, the result has been a child who had the potental to be marginalized in a classroom engaged in learning. That’s a hugely exciting development in education, learners our education system once deemed defective now get a chance to succeed.
But now I’m back in the classroom and sometimes I wonder if I have any business being in there, especially as I tried to adapt my Associate Teacher’s classroom processes into my own practice. Then one morning I plugged a USB into the classroom’s laptop and had a sudden moment of clarity. The processes I was using to teach were the very same ones that cause me so many problems as a learner. What was I doing copying down a learning intention in a modelling book during a guided reading lesson when I could throw the ideas up onto the classroom’s two-touch along with some pictures to help illustrate the vocabulary that needed to be pre-taught? If I use technology to learn, it make sense that I should also use it to teach.
What’s more maybe the internal conversation I have with myself when I read, ‘go back that doesn’t make sense’ or ‘I’m not sure how to pronounce that word but I know what it means,’ are thoughts that the other learners in my classroom need to hear because I’m using decoding strategies. Handwriting continues to be my bugbear, my students often comment that my letters sometimes come out a bit wonky. I really have to think hard about how each letter is formed when I’m teaching in order to model something legible for them. But perhaps the fact that I have to struggle puts me on an equal footing with my students, we are literally learning together.
ZOMG is that August gone? This month has zipped by with lots of learning due to being out on Teaching Experience and also the awesome #educampAKL. I had expected the blog to take a rather large dip in traffic due to being out on TE, so figured aside from hitting the 10k mark the stats would be the most interesting thing I’d have to talk about.
Not only did I break 10k visits the number of visits during August went up due in part to having another post go (relatively) viral and a series of guest posts which also bring in traffic. I really enjoyed having guest posts as a way to widen the blog’s audience but that it also bought into different perspectives of teaching which has been a huge learning opportunity for me.
In grand tradition (is three times a tradition) I will share some cake porn, in this case a chocolate-peanut butter number I made for my sister’s baby shower. I stupidly volunteered to make this the day before #educampakl and after my first week of TE. Just as well there was plenty of leftovers to nom on over the weekend.
Right onwards to blog stats.
Page Loads: 3,636 (117 per day)
Biggest day: August 30 (364 hits)
Most commented on post: Why #wordpress is better than blogger got the techies salivating at wordpress being open source. Educating an autistic child is an opportunity had some conversation that had me having to pull out my blog moderating hat for the first time in seven months. In good news there was a wonderful response to A Student Speaks: What makes a good teacher?
Top 5 most popular posts (in order of popularity)
- Why I’m done talking about e-learning and you should be too (267 hits)
- Why #wordpress is better than blogspot (196 hits)
- Guest Post: Educating an autistic child is an opportunity (184 hits)
- A student speaks: What makes a good teacher? (181 hits)
- Something to teach, something to learn: why #educampakl rocked! (134 hits)
Coming up in September
- The last of TE
- Twitter tour (My holiday will be visiting with Auckland-based tweachers if I get around to organizing)
- Job search – knock back/interview edition
- Site visits top 15,000
- Descending into October’s assignment madness
- #DUedchat (last Thursday in September)
I’ve changed my position on students calling teachers by their first names.
During my first placement was at an intermediate school where I went by Ms Lastname and was reasonably convinced that this was the way to go. I didn’t particularly want to be on a first name basis with my students due to always having to be ‘on’ as a teacher. For this placement I am with year 1/2 class at a school where everyone in the school is on a first name basis with their students and having now experienced the practice of being called Stephanie, I kind of like it.
I thought it might be weird, and it was for the first hour or so, but after that I quickly got used to it because it was simply the culture of the school. In fact the rooms in the school aren’t numbered at all but rather referred to by the teacher’s name classroom. So if I was teaching at my placement for real I wouldn’t be teaching in room 3, it would be Stephanie’s classroom. This sounds a bit egotistical at first glance but the practice seems a lot more warm and welcoming than an impersonal numbered space.
I don’t think the issue of students respecting teachers is a major one. I haven’t noticed any difference in students respecting teachers at my current placement then there was at my last placement. But I discovered that alongside not feeling so detached from my students another unintended benefit when a student talks about another teacher I no longer have to think about who Mr/Mrs Lastname is because I automatically know the teacher’s name. I also like that when I bump into my students outside of school (I live within easy walking distance) the students call me Stephanie as the alternative seems so contrived once you are out of the classroom. So why do most teachers insist on keeping up the practice inside the classroom?
The issue of teacher names isn’t something that I would go to the matresses over. However if I was given the choice, I think I would opt to be on a first name basis with my students. Nevertheless I can’t help but think that school culture might play a role in my decision as perhaps the reason I enjoy students calling me by my first name is because they call everyone by their first name.