Wheatley, M.J. (2012). So far from home: Lost and found in our brave new world. Berrett-Koehler: San Francisco, CA.
This week’s final oral presentations for Year 12s tackling their Jasper Jones character readings in Stage 3B English was a tumultuous passage beset by students’ ill-health, perplexity at my feedback from their last orals, and uncertainty at what was being asked of them. The tutorial task was a challenge. Pervading undercurrent? Fear.While I persisted with strategies, probing questions, catch-up conversations during private study sessions, forward motion eventually proved compelling, and they came unstuck from their former fixed positions. Trust moved them on/ commitment to the cause (improvement) yielded shift.
* Compliance-based, top-down, surveillance approach to the implementation process
* Misinterpretation of the Standards
* Difficulty in ensuring and encouraging teachers to engage with the Standards in the context of other significant national reforms such as the Australian Curriculum (AITSL, 2014, p. 10).
- Deprivatised practice vs surveillance
- Self-reflection vs assessment against standards
- Enactment vs implementation
2013 key findings. Retrieved August 21, 2014 http://www.aitsl.edu.au/docs/default-source/default-document-library/evaluation_of_standards_implementation_interim_report_findings
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Day 2 at uni clarified notions of devolution and accountability policies as a couplet shaping the landscape of educational reform. While devolution is apparent in the relaxing grip of centralised bureaucratic power where localised autonomy increases (and administrative burdens at the school level may be experienced as weighty workloads) accountability pressures are simultaneously exerted by
- performance management
- peer review
- testing regimes
- published school results perceived as league tables
- moderated assessments
- reporting processes
- teacher quality measured by and against AITSL standards (Vidovich, 2014).
Push/pull tensions at play within inter-connective, dynamic global, national and local contexts. Incredibly complex. Also intriguing to investigate as a practitioner, if a little contentious.
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So, the 4000 word paper I am attempting to outline here currently occupies a skeletal frame of sub-headings and dot point questions in Evernote. I wonder about the level of difficulty involved in synthesising an analysis of quality teaching - the verb as an enacted practice, note, not a noun – within its historic, political, global, richly conceptualised framework.
Hence contested spaces. What is adopted becomes
a rather different, more diffuse view of policy as a process rather than a product, involving negotiation, contestation or struggle between different groups who may lie outside the formal machinery of official policy making (Ozga, 2000, p. 2).
Visible marker stakes (top down):
- How the World’s Most Improved School Systems Keep Getting Better
- OECD PISA testing
- 21st Century skills and the global knowledge economy
- neoliberal ideology
- the Melbourne Declaration
- Australian Professional Standards for Teachers
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Afterword/ word of warning: Research into reform efforts reinforces the need for focus on what is known about effective teaching. Levin claims that
much education policy has been unsuccessful in improving student outcomes or in reducing the inequities in those outcomes while also having negative effects on educators’ morale.
Any historical moment offers both opportunities and constraints (Levin, 2010, p. 739).
The art to sustaining improvement, then, focuses on adaptation which engages participants in thoughtful processes at the local level. There is a concomitant need for supportive infrastructure. Back to hearts/ minds, passion projects, meaningful learning around strategies which enhance teaching as a profession by building capacity in a community of practice.
According to Bottery, a crisis in teacher recruitment and retention began with the imposition of large-scale reform in the 1980s and stems from lack of trust, where
non-recognition can lead to hostility, the dramatic lowering of morale, and problems with sustaining teacher numbers (Bottery, 2003, p. 248).
Seems to me that regenerating trust, and thus ensuring teacher wellbeing are crucial to promotion of quality teaching.
Bottery, M. (2003). The management and mismanagement of trust. Educational Management Administration & Leadership 31(3). Retrieved July 21, 2004 from http://ema.sagepub.com/content/31/3/245
Ozga, J. (2000). Policy research in educational settings: Contested terrain. Buckingham: Open University Press.
Levin, B. (2010). Governments and education reform: some lessons from the last 50 years. Journal of education policy, 25(6), 739-747. Retrieved July 5, 2014 from www.lms.uwa.edu.au/
Vidovich, L. (2014). Devolution & accountability policies (topic 4). Retrieved August 16, 2014 from www.lms.uwa.edu.au/
Text and action, words and deeds, what is enacted as well as intended (Ball, 1999, p. 10).
- investigate contemporary education policy trends globally, nationally and locally;
- examine and asses the changing nature of policy directions in the domains of devolution, accountability, privatisation, marketisation, school choice, funding, curriculum and international education, and critique the implications of these changes for practices in schools and classrooms.