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trust culture

August 24, 2014
The inspiring dramatisation of Grapes of Wrath I saw last night at WAAPA made me hanker for Steinbeck’s words on the page. Search as I might this morning, no copy of that mighty tome turned up. Wondered whether Daughter One took it with her when she moved out 4 weeks ago.
Nothing on her shelves apart from textbooks, an incomplete set of Stig Larsson Dragon Tattoo novels, worn copies of Papillon and The Riders.
Cue the play’s opening chords:
So I will have to paraphrase.
Ma says to Al that she hasn’t got 1000, but only one way ahead. He is young, and still has options. Her choices have been made, so the path is set.
I related in the sense that my determination to practice teaching arts more than 20 years ago means there’s no point in baulking when the road gets blocked with storm debris or the jalopy I steer breaks down.
Vignette from the field:
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.
Here’s their plenary review:
That point right there, now, has taken 20 months with this particular group of students. 25 years to refine the practice. One path.
Here’s where life and capital-s Study crossover. Hold on to the ropes:
Researchers claim that global reform imperatives are embedded in policy documents which are enacted by micro level actors in schools and classrooms. Teachers. The space thereby defined becomes contested terrain (Ozga, 2000).
While the policy documents themselves – and their review processes – might emphasise implementation as if actors were mere instruments and not Joads, what gives me hope for improvement is the identification of challenges as:

 * Compliance-based, top-down, surveillance approach to the implementation process
* ƒ Misinterpretation of the Standards
ƒ * 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).

My week that was also sheltered moments of privileged access to colleagues’ teaching practice where my role as line manager involved bearing witness to their own shaky jalopy.
Shaky only in the sense of being vulnerable.
Then – by nature of our performance & development process – I wrote up observation records in a template with our subsequent coaching conversation providing feedback against the AITSL standards.
In formal terms, a semantic shift away from the old performance review, but still loaded.
CC Image Source
There has been some trepidation expressed about this process.
  • Deprivatised practice vs surveillance
  • Self-reflection vs assessment against standards
  • Enactment vs implementation
No one likes to feel they are not trusted.
Professionals expect to be treated as such.
….And imposed coaching can still feel like coercion (says the preacher: If it feels like a sin to you in your head, why it’s a sin….).
What makes the difference?
Relationships. And the whole edifice is built on trust.
 rock-climbing-403488_640CC Image Source
Selected references
AITSL. (2014). Evaluation of the implementation of the Australian professional standards for teachers: Interim report on baseline implementation
2013 key findings. Retrieved August 21, 2014
Ozga, J. (2000). Policy research in educational settings: Contested terrain. Buckingham: Open University Press.
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