More on Registered Teacher Criteria and Professional ePortfolios

In a previous post I discussed some initial thoughts around a potential relationship between the Registered Teacher Criteria and professional eportfolios. I mentioned teaching as inquiry in the post but not in any great detail about how it might work and look.

So inspired by conversation, feedback and other people’s thinking let’s make that step by taking the Teaching as Inquiry framework, central to effective pedagogy as outlined in the NZC to underpin the process. By starting with teaching as inquiry (TaI) and using it as the foundation for professional appraisal and teacher registration, we are reinforcing the core focus of teaching (and therefore the appraisal & portfolio) to achieve improved outcomes for all students.

Inspired by how Rocky mapped her thinking out I have played around with how the 12 criteria align with teacher inquiry shown below using the graphic from Timperley’s Teacher Professional Learning and Development: Educational Practices Series, p. 26-27). The orange text boxes are the original cycle, with the pink boxes the 12 criteria matched to the best fit stage of the inquiry. The exception being criteria 1, 2 and 3 which to me are more global and integrate throughout hence how they form a mini-cycle in the middle. (I like this graphic over others as it includes specific reference to role of leaders in schools.)

Secondly below using the slightly different cycle graphic from Teacher Professional Learning and Development: Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration (BES). Both of these examples are indicative only, and you could argue that some of the criteria fit better with another stage in the inquiry. Would be a good activity to complete with teachers if you were heading down this track…

TaI is a cyclic and ongoing process as teachers continually reflect on their practice within a whole range of levels from micro to bigger global objectives. The diagram is represents that way. I am fully in favour of formalising and in some way recording this process, integrating it into teaching and learning and the school’s professional learning programme. Appraisal systems in place are not always naturally ongoing, responsive, immediate… they are generally summative, ‘completed’ a couple of times a year rather than being living and formative. An exception to this would perhaps be the mentoring of a PRT

So I would want to use the RTC in a cyclic and ongong manner too… and reference it within a professional eportfolio.

So what might that look like in practice when it is captured and shared within an eportfolio?

You could take an approach similar to this Mahara/MyPortfolio template. While this approach is very functional and mirrors a traditional ‘filling out a document’ approach, its strength would be in the ability to provide feedback to the teacher within MyPortfolio but I have a lot of unanswered questions regarding its use. In a worse case scenario, this approach could just become something you complete when your rego is due or within the performance management process, you just share it with your appraiser when required. It doesn’t directly reinforce the benefits of TaI nor show an ongoing cycle of reflection and next steps.

If I were in a postion to lead this in a school then I would favour a blog/journal approach rather than a page. Whether using WordPressBlogger or the blogging capacity within MyPortfolio, the tool is not important rather the ability to tag (or label or categorise) your entries and display these tags as either a list or cloud. This then becomes your blog index allowing you to select the posts which relate to and provide evidence towards the appropriate registered teacher criteria.

What is also really important to note that in this approach you don’t go out and write a post on “how I have achieved and reflected upon Criteria 4”. Instead your ongoing reflections, inquiry into practice, involvement in professional learning and development, mentoring, obvservations, staff meetings, teaching practice and so on, are blogged/reflected on as and when they happen, and any association with the criteria is noted.

It also removes the ‘timed’ appraisal. The mid-year, end-of-year, or other times for appraisals are a bit old schoolish. It’s a bit like waiting until the end of term to receive your child’s portfolio, out of date and past its usefulness in order to really contribute to new learning…

To me it is a bit of a no brainer, one system that caters for a record of teacher inquiry, clearly linked to registration criteria, evidence, authentic appraisal and reflection. And just to add one more to the mix is how the culmination of all of this within a professional portfolio can be central to a professional network. Why is it that we tend to be so protective and private when it comes to all of this stuff… sharing it with an audience has so many potential benefits…

How does your school manage this/these process(es)? Silos? I am always or the look out for examples of professional teacher eportfolios, with reference to TaI and RTC or not. Do you have any to share?

#PLN #RegisteredTeacherCriteria #professionaleportfolios #teachingasinquiry #ePortfolios #appraisal

More ePortfolio Big Picture Questions…

Further to a previous post I have added three new discussion questions to use when thinking about some of big underlying themes surrounding eportfolios.

I can’t take credit for the thinking behind these questions as they have stemmed from comments left on this blog or through face to face discussions when visiting schools.

So here is the first one:

Thanks to Jamin Lietze, who left this comment:

…what measures is the school going to put in place so that there are consistencies between classroom ePortfolios? Parents will compare and complain if one teacher is not perceived as doing much.

I don’t know if my question reflects exactly the point Jamin is making, mine is more related to surface features but will recraft it at some stage. Jamin refers to the content and makes a valid point. Often in schools we ask for consistency and commonalities in ‘school-wide’ approaches to teaching and learning. There are core values and beliefs that guide what we do. At a different level schools may develop guidelines that describe expectations for such areas as planning and assessment. Is it therefore necessary to develop guidelines for eportfolios, what goes in them and how often? Or would this defeat the purpose of a student directed, student owned eportfolio that supports the learner and instead become a prescriptive teacher directed product?

Question 2:

A conversation with Deidre Alderson, principal of Willowbank School prompted this question. We were discussing eportfolios and getting parents online and involved in leaving comments and giving feedback to their children in these online spaces. I outlined how in my research parents of year 3 and 4 students showed a much higher involvement than those at year 5 and 6. We discussed a number of reasons why this may be which I also discussed in my research. Deidre had a new perspective on this. She suggests that how students want to get feedback and the form that feedback takes changes over time. For example, a younger student may really respond to and deliberately seek out feedback yet an older student may only want feedback when they specifically ask for it and perhaps not from you as a teacher or parent at all. While the eportfolio is only one of many ways to give feedback to students, is the feedback we are giving online inline with what they want, regardless of whether it is technically correct (purposeful, specific, related to criteria, includes next steps etc).

Question 3:

Thanks to Kathy Paterson and Carol Brieseman who both felt this question was worthy to be mentioned.Kathy asks:

perhaps there could be a question directed at the use and management of eportfolios for staff journeys?

Supported by Carol:

Staff documenting their own learning as an e-portfolio would help build confidence that may not be there at present.

I agree. As simple as the saying ‘walk the talk’ is, no more could it be truer here. And what a rich authentic alternative to an appraisal checklist type approach to teaching competency. Not to mention the reflective practice involved in an eportfolio that sits hand in hand with the teaching as inquiry approach to knowledge building. Why wouldn’t you want staff to have their own?

So there we go. Three more questions to discuss if you intend heading down the eportfolio route or if you are in the process of review how you are implementing them currently.

Once again, would love to hear of any questions or areas that I have not considered!

Special thanks to:

Photo 1: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cobalt/

Photo 2: http://www.flickr.com/photos/raigverd/

Photo 3: http://www.flickr.com/photos/torres21/

#KathyPaterson #DeidreAlderson #teacherinquiry #JaminLietze #CarolBrieseman #teachingasinquiry #ePortfolios

Laptops? Desktops? Making choices…

I am often asked my opinion about what to buy or how to organise technology in schools. I am in a privileged position working with 17 ITCPD cluster around NZ. That is a lot of schools I am lucky enough to visit and a lot of teachers and principals I converse with. I see an huge range of different set-ups in schools from the traditional computer suite to 1-1 programmes.

What works best and what would I recommend? Well that’s a really hard question to answer as I have seen every scenario work really well and allow for the integration of technology into learning but equally have seen the other side of the equation where the same set up in another school is not effectively used. We know that it is not the technology that makes for effective elearning pedagogy. Sure the access to technology is a factor but it is the understanding of and deliberate acts of teaching using technology that make it happen successfully and seamlessly.

It is hard to recommend any particular setup. Do you have 2 or 3 desktops in classes supported by mobile pods of laptops? Do you use netbooks as learning is increasingly happening in the cloud? Are laptops the only way forward? I know schools that only have 1-2 computers in each class that do amazing stuff, and then know schools that have huge almost unlimited access to computers who do pretty ordinary stuff.

What leading schools are clearly doing is projecting the way the want technology being used in classrooms in 2-3 years which is predominantly cloud based and increasingly mobile. If you look at the trends from Horizon reports, UNESCO or BECTA they support this direction as well.

My current line of thought is a little different. I am really keen on giving teachers the flexibility to makes these decisions themselves. i.e. If you have a clear budget, why not ask a teacher how they want to spend their allotment, so that the purchase clearly aligns to their pedagogical approach. They may choose laptops or even ipads, whatever. While this can be complicated and comes with lots of questions, is there really a one size fits all to a technology roll-out or should a teacher have the flexibility to choose what they use, just as they do with every other resource they use in their teaching?

Does every classroom need to have an equal share. I know that in the past I have certainly gone about strategic planning by stating, “Every class will have 3-4 desktops supported by a mobile pod of ten laptops for each team.” etc.

But should we have moved beyond this now?

I had a recent conversation with a principal who is establishing a new school. He can’t decide on IWBs or the flat screen teaching stations, so instead appointed staff will possibly get an allowance of $4000 to use either way they see fit. I think taht is just fantastic.

Sure there are lots of questions raised by using this approach. What happens when the teacher moves on? How do you manage and support a range of different technologies? What if a teacher makes the wrong decision? What happens if the need for a certain technology is no longer relevant? and so on.

But I am looking at it from this perspective: They whole process of deciding what to buy fits directly in the ‘teaching as inquiry‘ approach and would really make teachers examine their elearning pedagogy. The use/purchase of technology would be directly related to the needs of the students and the teacher’s approach/pedagogy. The teacher would be required to research, visit and answer any questions to reinforce their decision.

30 ipod touches may be a much better investment for students lacking fluency and comprehension skills rather than 6 laptops and a projector.

Have we depersonalised our teachers own elearning pedagogy by deciding what technology they should use?

What do you reckon?

#laptops #UNESCO #teachingasinquiry #desktops #BECTA #pedagogy #HorizonsReport #trends