Much of my working life is spent working alongside developing teachers, at different stages in their careers. In 2012, the Teacher Standards changed, from 33 statements to 8 headings. It still surprises me that, after nearly six and a half years, many teachers still cannot identify all eight standards, even though they are supposedly working within them each day.
However, in my developmental roles, they can be very interesting, as it is possible to play with permutations of the standards that exemplify what it means to become a complete teacher, especially during university degree, PGCE or School Direct (shorter) experiences.
One of the things of which I am very proud is that, for the 2012 teacher standards, I created what has become known as the “Dartboard” at Winchester University and forms a part of every student record of progress. It is useful, in that it’s a dynamic and embeds action in a holistic framework which can be unpicked to individual needs. You may need to click and make the picture full screen.
It did lead to much reflection on how the teacher standards are considered and whether the language might lead to isolation rather than purposeful combination. Teachers have to be good at a wide range of reflective, reactive and communicative behaviours, often exaggerated further when working with younger children or with children with SEND.
For information, the eight standards are
2) Progress and Outcomes
3) Subject Knowledge
7) Behaviour management
Plus there’s a part 2, which describes further the professional standing of a teacher within the broader community.
Behind these headings are many lines of exemplary materials. Click to link to pdf download, with a shortened version.
However, the headings are quite useful, in themselves, as supports for a narrative that seeks to describe teachers in development. I’ve given them nicknames where they might suit.
34 – Not necessarily the ultimate age for a teacher, but this could describe, say, a wildlife expert, or similar, who knows their stuff and can put it across in a clear narrative to an audience, using age appropriate vocabulary and language structures. The chances are that children in the audience are with parents taking control of behaviours. As a local leader and County organiser for Watch Wildlife Groups, I often invited such people to present their specialist knowledge to the children. It's similar to inviting special speaker into a classroom. They share their knowledge.
To some extent, it also describes some television presenter approaches, although they can take for granted that their core audience is watching. If people are also looking at a mobile phone, making a cup of tea, or are in any other way distracted, it’s not the presenter problem.
873 – A person of professional standing, who has the skills to control an allocated group, for a period of time, who can be trusted to get across some subject knowledge in an ordered manner.
This could be used to describe a teaching assistant, or other adult whom a head deems appropriate to lead an activity. They can work within any prescribed approach to behaviour, dealing with issues that arise appropriately.
Anyone in a professional role in a school is highly likely to have at least GCSE level education, while teachers will have a degree plus a teaching qualification. I would also expect Primary teachers to have at least five GCSE good grades and three GCE A levels, so they will have some subject experience across the Primary curriculum.
If they don’t, they can be expected to address this; teacher standard 8 talks of the proactive self-developer.
Structuralist approach; eg a trainee still making sense of the longer term organisational and learning needs.
8731 – Having appropriate expectations of behaviour and learning (TS1) raises the expectations of the adult, as the conduit through which some level of progress in a subject area might be accomplished.
It is often the case that these standards are the first and easiest to be evidenced for a trainee teacher, as, by and large, they describe the personal, professional persona of the adult, who knows their subject and can organise a classroom to get information across in a coherent form over time.
It is also likely to describe a teacher confident in their professionalism and ability to get what they know across to a range of school audiences, within an overall planning approach.
The limiting factor from this point is embedded in standard 2, progress and outcomes; in other words, how well are the children known and how well does the adult understand the learning outcomes appropriate to different year groups?
432-65-2 - You’d want the person described above to have a wider range of skills; 432, being able to organise their subject over different timescales, so that the subject requirements were built up appropriately and checked on the way, with the intention that children should embark on a journey towards an expected point.
It can depend on how you understand children making progress (TS2) and how you determine whether they have. If the definition is coverage - then test for memory, it might preclude analysis of the needs of specific individuals (TS6), leading to further engagement with them, undertaking adapted approaches (TS5).
Interaction with learners, engaging with the ongoing learning and making subtle or more significant alterations to the expectations of some, responding to evidence within the classroom, TS6&5, are probably the key to ultimate teacher success, in that it is the sum total of progress of each child (TS2) in a class or cohort, that ultimately is the signal that the school is doing well by every child, whatever their needs.
See also 24652 blog
Teacher standard 2 also covers the full range of needs likely to be encountered. If, for example, a teacher has experience limited to one year group, as can happen in some organisations, knowledge of achievement in years above or below enhance and extend the outcome knowledge base, enabling the teacher to make more nuanced decisions about challenge and intervention needs. Mentoring and moderation are key elements in this area, to allow the less experienced teacher to benefit from the wisdom of more experienced colleagues.
Teacher standard 2 is also the area that is currently causing concern, in looking at assessment and tracking needs for teachers. It’s the one area where experience provides the basis for personal development, in making accurate judgements about children as learners, leading to better planning, interaction and adaptation; TS 465. The bottom line question; “How well, breadth and depth, can you show that you know your children?”
It takes time, and is a stage in a progressive development, based on analytical reflection, from reading and first-hand experiences on behalf of the developing teacher. Self-development is a constituent of teacher standard 8; developing yourself into the best possible professional, as a team player and a team leader, is key to long term success in teaching.
Teaching, in many ways, is an investigative role, based on an original hypothesis that the planning is pitched at the right level, with in-lesson evidence showing the need to alter course, or to provide additional scaffolds to support individuals.
Thinking takes time and that can be a rare commodity in a busy school room. So it is incumbent on each teacher, especially trainees, to make best use of available time to think and talk about the role. It is a job where it can be difficult to switch off, too.
Many will use holidays as time to catch up on thinking. As a head, I often thought of the job as 24/7/365.
Getting better at getting better… personal development or CPD?
Building capacity breeds capacity
Variations on success breeds success? Or “Love the ones you’re with”, Dylan Wiliam.
Building Professional Capital, Hargreaves and Fullan?
This view was first put into print by Sir Arthur Helps, in Realmah, 1868: "Nothing succeeds like success." [Rien ne réussit comme le succès.]
And apparently even earlier in a different form: Success nourishes them. They can because they think they can...Virgil
The most damaging thing a teacher can say is “I can’t…” There is a need to consider the problem being faced and to come up with a solution within any available constraints. In my book, teachers are paid thinkers and solution finders.
As a headteacher entering my own school for the first time, one of the main tasks was to get to know the staff, as well as the children, to establish a view of the overall capacity of the staff and where each was in their personal development. This was an important first step, as I set to the task of creating out of the available “raw material” the future picture of the school.
This did involve a significant amount of reflection, from the staff and me, as each challenged the other to clarify thinking, so that meanings were clearer, enabling reflection that supported development. Some of that reflection meant that a few staff chose an alternative route forward. Living with challenge is not always a comfortable position. The school needed to be challenged. It was happy with itself, had create a comfortable existence for the staff, who did “nice things” with children. However, the general expectations were slightly too low and needed to be extended.
Challenge, time to reflect, within an articulated timetable, with resourced time, appropriate external support and internal evidence of momentum, through sharing improved outcomes, began the process of regular review, which ultimately was supported by release time for shared research, which further supported the collegiate approach and team development.
Internal moderation, or just sharing outcomes, became a regular feature of staff discussion, as illustrations of what was being expected and achieved.
Over time, the notion of success nourishing the staff led to deeper, sustained challenge, to staff and to children, with a further increase in outcomes, the achievement of which established much clearer expectations and benchmarks. The rich curriculum became richer, as teachers tried out ideas, with children feeling the pleasure of achievement, so improving their attitude and motivation.
Teachers had to adapt ideas to the context of the school. We were an open plan layout and areas were set aside for specialist activity at different points around the building, but each was within sight of a classroom, so every area could be overseen by a teacher, even if children were from another class. The “independence” being fostered could be put to good effect in supporting challenge in tasks, especially as the children got older.
The past twelve years of school visits through a variety of organisations and for different purposes, have allowed me to see a broader base of evident practice. Improving outcomes, so that both the teacher and the child can see what the next step looks like is essential. For the teachers, this has sometimes meant advice to go and look at years above or below, to better understand what quality outcomes can look like.
Only by having a deep understanding of progression of learning within each subject, what success at different stages looks like and clarity in understanding where each child is in that continuum at any specific point, can a Primary teacher support incremental learning, as a combination of knowledge and capability.
It seems to me, after a lifetime in education, from the many initiatives passing my way, that every piece of education research is interpreted to the profession through a filter that comprises national and press reviews, personal interpretation of the original material, or the ensuing book and inference from an existing practitioner, as the original ideas are adapted to the circumstances of a classroom.
By the time a teacher presents “how it’s working for me”, in a staff meeting, a Teachmeet, or some other external talk, it has been through several layers of interpretation. It has been adapted to the particular circumstance of that classroom teacher’s views. Copying, by a colleague, in another context, may not get the same result.
There are three main variables in teaching in a teacher control, even assuming a common knowledge base; space, resources and time. A classroom has a set size and shape that determines furniture arrangement for ease of working and movement. Organisation and availability of resources, for ease of accessibility and return will affect practice, to a significant effect. Limitations of timetabling, especially the need to move as a whole class for activity, is further compromised by grouping and setting for different aspects, all of which impact on working approaches, not least the need to complete tasks within a set time.
An inability to adapt can lead to teachers saying “I can’t do…” which impacts on children’s development. Self-limiting should not be part of a teacher make-up. The teacher who “prefers” to stay in year 6, or EYFS, for example, if they do not then have opportunities to explore practice across the school, can become entrenched in their working methods and expectations.
Self-limiting can apply to schools as well as individuals, where they do not communicate effectively, especially if there is a form of “competition” between phases and prior judgements are not fully accepted. Collaboration and excellent communication between professionals enables smoother transition and transfer.
“Novelty children”; apologies…
Within the idea of adaptability comes the issue of “novelty children”, those with needs that the teacher has never encountered. The SEND specific need, the travellers, the EAL child with a never before met language, the extra-talented (gifted) learner, in a specific subject. How to deal with the new issue is likely to depend on prior experience and the base from which decisions are made. These will therefore range from rough-hewn, to refined. A self-aware teacher will admit to shortcomings and seek colleague advice, from within the school, as in the SENCo/ABCo, or through available language/specialist support, where the LA or Academy chain has access to expertise.
These “novelty children” extend the boundaries of teacher knowledge and expertise, which, over time, enables further adaptation to circumstance.
Adaptability and reflection are precursors to personal growth.
Adapting to new knowledge is a large part of how we learn, through reflection, adjustment to circumstance and a new balance point, based on knowledge and capability.
The more adaptable you are, the more adaptable you can become. Seeing the need to adapt is the first step. Getting better at getting better takes thinking time and a bit of effort, but getting better is positively reinforcing, for everyone, as teacher self-esteem can be a fragile beast.