Initial Teacher Education: School- based Practical Experience

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1 Initial Teacher Education: School- based Practical Experience A discussion paper prepared for the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership by the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia on behalf of the peak national Principals associations June 2015

2 This paper has been developed by AHISA on behalf of the peak national Principals associations. It is endorsed by AHISA, APPA, ASPA and CasPA. The paper draws upon submissions to TEMAG, the TEMAG Report and the Australian Government s response to that Report, research and papers on the issue of practical experience for teaching students produced over the past 15 years and a series of interviews undertaken by AHISA s Chief Executive with Principals and/or school staff members responsible for co- ordinating practicum placements in their schools. The interviews canvassed views from all school sectors in four states Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia and included regional and metropolitan schools. Introduction The critical role of school- based practical experience in initial teacher education was covered extensively in submissions to TEMAG and in the TEMAG Report, and has been the subject of AITSL s own research effort. It is therefore not the intention of this paper to summarise or restate points already documented at length. We further acknowledge that in responding to the TEMAG Report the Australian Government has instructed AITSL to: establish and publish the essential requirements for practical experience, identify best practice examples in Australia, and model partnership agreements and other supporting materials for universities [ to] ensure universities and schools support the connection of theory and practice, and successfully manage practical experience placements; and to outline clear expectations for the supervision and assessment of teachers undertaking practical experience [ to] assist universities and schools to identify and prepare highly skilled teachers to supervise practical experience, and to undertake rigorous, continuous and consistent assessment of teacher education students for classroom readiness. [That is, to establish a national assessment framework.] Given that AITSL already has clear directives to further the development of the practical experience component of initial teacher education, the primary aim of this paper is to explore the intersection of those directives with the views and experiences of Principals and/or their staff. The national Principals associations appreciate the opportunity to consult at this point in AITSL s work in implementing the Government s reform agenda for initial teacher education. Given the integral role of schools in the practical experiences of pre- service teachers, we look forward to further consultation as AITSL progresses its work. Background There is general agreement in the literature that high quality initial teacher preparation requires a strong alignment between the theory and practice of education, and must include a rigorous practical experience. (See for example Professor Linda Darling- Hammond (2013).) The TEMAG 2 Initial Teacher Education: School- based Practical Experience

3 Report notes the professional experience component of initial teacher education as critical for the translation of theory into practice. While the importance of the role of school- based practical experience is not contested, the shape of that experience as it is currently conceived and delivered varies dramatically, partly a reflection of the diversity in teacher education courses and providers. Courses include undergraduate four- year Bachelor of Education or Bachelor of Teaching degrees, one- year postgraduate Diplomas of Education and two- year Masters of Education or Masters of Teaching postgraduate degrees. In addition, there is the Teach for Australia model, which aims to attract recent graduates, often with industry experience from other professional fields, to education, particularly in specialist areas of shortage. The form and length of school- based practical experience in teacher education programs within these courses varies across the different program models adopted by providers. The national Accreditation Standards and Procedures for initial teacher education set a minimum period for the practical experience component of each program as no fewer than 80 days of well- structured, supervised and assessed teaching practice in schools in undergraduate and double- degree teacher education programs and no fewer than 60 days in graduate entry programs. Assuming all providers meet or exceed this minimum requirement, even so, the allocation of these days is diverse, and schools may find themselves hosting on site pre- service teachers from multiple institutions, some for one or two days a week, some for a two- week period and even some for a full term s residency or a year s internship. AITSL has been tasked with establishing the essential elements of effective practical experiences. Without wishing to pre- empt that work, it is worth noting that several key themes are evident in material already published by AITSL (eg AITSL 2013), and in the TEMAG Report and the Government s response to it: increasing interest in the clinical model of initial teacher education more formalised partnership arrangements between teacher education providers and schools the need to identify in schools highly skilled supervising teachers who are excellent educators of adults, not just of children or adolescents, and who are willing to undertake formal training as mentors to pre- service teachers closer agreement between teacher educators and schools around what makes for effective teaching more formalised assessment by schools of pre- service teachers on practical placement, aligned to the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers Graduate Standards. These themes are addressed in the next section, Issues. 3 Initial Teacher Education: School- based Practical Experience

4 Issues 1. Agreement on effective teaching practice The Melbourne Graduate School of Education Masters of Teaching program, begun in 2008, is widely regarded as an exemplary clinical model of teacher education. Stephen Dinham (2012) notes the program rates highly among its graduates as preparation for beginning teaching. The MGSE program focusses attention on the individual school student in a clinician s approach, with the graduate teaching student analysing, intervening and evaluating from information they developed about each school student they work with on practicum. The structure of the program is established through a list of 25 partner schools, with a Teaching Fellow, a mentor or expert teacher in each school spending two and a half days a week mentoring and supporting those candidates. In addition, there is a Clinical Specialist from the University, on site at the school for one day a week to help link theory and practice. Darling- Hammond in her 2013 paper emphasised that the school practicum experience should be the integrating feature of the overall teacher education program, with concurrent fieldwork and coursework based on those experiences. The MGSE model attempts to align strongly the theory and the practice of teaching in this way. Setting aside the theoretical underpinnings of this model, a feature of its implementation that is worth noting in terms of the practicum component is that the alignment of theory and practice is largely achieved through an assigned school- based Teaching Fellow supported by a university- based Clinical Specialist. The school in effect becomes a setting or a clinic for demonstration, testing or practice of the pedagogy covered by teacher educators. This alignment is cemented by the financial arrangements covering the Teaching Fellow, half of whose salary is covered by MGSE and half by the school. While apparently successful, this model of resource sharing is one that is not readily adapted to all schools in terms of current practice. Principals interviewed by AHISA, especially those in major cities, reported that they were approached by up to nine teacher education providers seeking placement for pre- service teachers. Where schools cannot align with one provider and one theoretical approach to education either of school students or of student teachers it is important that providers prepare students to fit the school they are visiting. Those interviewed reported that not only do student teachers often arrive at schools on placement with little exposure to an understanding of current pedagogy (for example visible learning, use of data as part of learning diagnostics, action learning research, etc.), they are often not prepared to meet the school s dress code for staff or to align with the school s ethos, particularly where the school has a strong religious affiliation. The issue of alignment between providers and schools is addressed further in point (7) below. 4 Initial Teacher Education: School- based Practical Experience

5 2. Partnerships between teacher education providers and schools As well as the MGSE model discussed above, other models of partnerships between providers and schools or systems have emerged. For example, under the National Partnership on Improving Quality Teaching School Centres for Teacher Education Excellence initiative, Edith Cowan University in WA developed a strong partnership with the Catholic Education Office and the WA Department of Education to deliver practical experience for pre- service teachers. Similar to the MGSE model, university coursework is linked to the placement experience. As noted by AITSL (2013), the ECU model and other models for Centres of Excellence developed in Queensland and Victoria (now subsumed within the Teaching Academies of Professional Practice program in Victoria), exemplify the application of resources, intention and effort to the development of collaborative sites. Such models are also being trialled overseas. Stanford University s model involves a strong partnership between the training teacher, a school- based mentor and a university supervisor, with the training teacher teaching sixteen hours a week for a semester at the school and attending a weekly seminar at the University. In the UK, a Teaching School model based on teaching hospitals has been introduced in London and Greater Manchester, with high performing schools selected for the task. The UK Government plans to develop a national network of Teaching Schools. The approach is complemented by the development of Training Schools which will disseminate best practice, train mentors and generate research on teaching and learning. Interviews with Principals revealed patchy to non- existent partnership arrangements and sometimes even minimal liaison between schools and universities over placements. This applies to the organisation and timing of such placements as well as to the development of appropriate programs to best meet the needs of the student teachers. As documented by APPA in its submission to TEMAG, communication between universities and schools is often late and confusing and it is often through rather than the more effective face- to- face meetings or phone calls. Principals who were interviewed also reported schools can be overwhelmed with requests for placements. The lesson to be drawn from current practice and emerging models of practical experience for initial teacher education is that a commitment to appropriately funded human resources is a critical ingredient of successful partnerships. 3. School- based supervisors and mentors The MGSE model, where a school nominates a Teaching Fellow who is part funded by the university, is not the common model. Typically, school teachers are asked to take on the task of supervising student teachers on top of their teaching loads with little or no allocation of time to properly mentor student teachers. The allowance is nominal and may not be paid to the teacher; it may be used by schools to partly resource a co- ordinator role, especially where schools are hosting large numbers of teaching students. While schools and teachers accept and cover the cost of placements through a sense of professional obligation, it must be acknowledged that schools also have an obligation to students and their families. When interviewed, Principals said if they were asked to place teaching students in the 5 Initial Teacher Education: School- based Practical Experience

6 second half of the academic year, especially for long blocks of time, they were reluctant to assign these students to senior secondary classes and, similarly, reluctant to find release time for teachers taking senior secondary classes. While it was the aspiration of schools to place student teachers with leading teachers, the timing of placements requested by providers sometimes prevailed against that. Principals of independent schools, in particular, who have no access to systemic funds, said that budget restraints meant releasing teachers for mentoring roles was often problematic, especially in smaller schools. Some of those interviewed commented that schools and/or teachers were sometimes reluctant to take on too many teaching students for placement because what was essentially volunteer effort was often perceived as wasted. For this reason, some schools were happier to place those from graduate programs. Greater sensitivity to teacher supply and demand issues by providers in managing their student intakes was mentioned as an important factor in influencing schools to engage more readily with the demands of placement. The National Partnership on Improving Quality Teaching funded several initiatives involving the training of teachers as mentors, especially for beginning teachers. The interviews revealed that while mentoring and/or observation and feedback are considered successful models for professional development of teachers at all stages in their careers, mentoring of pre- service teachers signals a greater commitment of time and expertise to pre- service teachers on the part of schools and teachers than supervision, and demands specialist training for the mentor. In the United States, the Boston Teacher Residency, involving a partnership between Boston Public Schools and the University of Massachusetts, sees pre- service teachers involved in four days a week co- teaching with their mentor supervising teachers, with academic study back at the University intensively over the summer break and for one day a week and one evening a week during the school year. Crucial to the success of this model is the selection and training of the mentors, recognising that they must be excellent and committed teachers of adults, not just of the school- aged school students. Those interviewed confirmed that mentoring re- positions schools in teacher education provision: schools are not just places where pre- service teachers are exposed to and have the opportunity to practise a range of pedagogies but become sites where pre- service teachers are deliberately and intentionally guided in their professional learning within an overarching theoretical framework. 4. School- based assessment of pre- service teachers One Principal interviewed said that not once in 20 years of hosting pre- service teachers in schools under his leadership had a template for or guidance on in- school assessment of student teachers been offered by any teacher education provider. Each school had been required to develop its own. Further, school- based assessments were often disregarded by the provider. The development of a national assessment framework by AITSL is a positive move, providing an explicit context for assessment for both supervising and/or mentor teachers and student teachers. We look forward to commenting on drafts of the framework. 6 Initial Teacher Education: School- based Practical Experience

7 5. The role of the Principal Dinham (2012) notes that the adoption of a clinical approach to teacher education and teaching practice requires understanding, knowledge, commitment and support from education leaders and that school leaders must be thoroughly grounded in instructional leadership for clinical teaching. It could be said that the capacity of Principals to provide instructional leadership in their schools will also underwrite the success of any model of school- based practical experience in initial teacher education. At the very least, the quality of school placements depends upon school culture and the willingness, enthusiasm and ability of the school leaders and supervising teachers to embrace student teachers and provide a collaborative, respectful and meaningful experience. The importance of commitment from school leaders in contributing to quality experiences for pre- service teachers in practicums is noted by Professor Peter Renshaw in his 2012 InSights report for AITSL, and is also recognised in the TEMAG Report, which recommends that school leaders actively lead the integration of pre- service teachers in the activities and culture of their school. 6. Financial support The issue of financial support for school- based practical experience in initial teacher education is a highly critical one and, again, there are models elsewhere that indicate much more needs to be done in Australia generally. One aspect of this issue is financial support for the pre- service teacher. In France, a pre- service teacher is paid in the second year of their postgraduate course while they are under supervision. This is similar to a medical intern model where beginning doctors are paid while they are in residency. In Japan, there is a one- year internship model where the intern is supported financially and mentor teachers are given time release. There are also internship models in Australia, for example the NSW Government s Great Teaching, Inspired Learning Internship or Western Australia s Training Schools Teacher Residency Internship Program. A second aspect is support for schools and supervisor/mentor teachers. As already mentioned, the success of clinical models of teacher education in Australia, where schools are akin to satellite sites for the teacher education provider, is clearly linked to adequate resourcing. In its response to the TEMAG Report, the Government stated that federal funding provided to universities for the training of teachers includes the delivery of practical experience. Clearly the quantum of this funding and/or its allocation must be revisited if schools and teachers are to provide for and undertake a greater mentoring role in initial teacher education. 7. The imperative of change Over the past 20 years and more, greater understanding of the science of learning has led to significant changes in the requirements and expectations of the profession of teaching as more is understood about what leads to higher quality student learning outcomes. A greater understanding of learning is driving change in professional practice: 7 Initial Teacher Education: School- based Practical Experience

8 A far more individual student- centred approach assisted by technological advances and expectations of the integrated use of technology to enhance individual and personalised learning requires teachers to be skilled in Learning Diagnostics. Teachers now need to be able to collect a diverse range of data to appraise individual students of their strengths and weaknesses, form a diagnosis and develop individual learning pathways using a wide range of assessment strategies. As Professor Stephen Dinham (2012) has noted, there is a growing recognition that teachers need to be able to diagnose individual student learning and provide prescriptions for improvement, to be clinical, evidence- based, interventionist practitioners in the manner of health professionals. Much deeper understanding is expected of students in their learning beyond direct knowledge, in order to apply learning to rich and real tasks and projects, although a basis in the latter and depth of knowledge is intrinsically vital as well. Managing personalised learning in a classroom setting and away from normal learning settings becomes a major skill, too. Learning management is now of greater significance than traditional classroom management. Teachers in quality schools, as part of their ongoing professional learning on site, are involved constantly in action learning research involving real issues and challenges within schools. Teaching is now recognised as a collaborative profession and this understanding has been given further impetus with more team teaching, particularly in middle years of schooling and the incorporation of trans- disciplinary projects as part of the learning process. Learning facilities, as a result of many of the above developments, are being transformed, providing multiple learning precincts within the one room, or adjoining facilities with the expectation that the teacher will use these effectively to enhance the personalised learning opportunities mentioned earlier. A greater understanding now exists of the proven importance of social and emotional learning, as well as co- curricular and other experiential learning opportunities, to enhance the learning capacity of students. Further, in terms of providing a context for learning and teaching, schools are not immune to the disruption caused by the speed and scale of innovation in digital technologies. The quickening life- cycle of teaching tools and the diminishing half- life of discipline knowledge are affecting the work of teachers, and the traditional model of schooling provision is itself being challenged. Schools are becoming places of research, experimentation and innovation. It is therefore important that models of practical experience for initial teacher education recognise that schools are centres of professional learning in their own right. Schools should not be conceived simply as satellites of teacher education providers. 8 Initial Teacher Education: School- based Practical Experience

9 8. The professional learning continuum Although the ambit of this paper relates primarily to school- based practical experiences for pre- service teachers, it is essential to recognise the importance of ongoing learning for all teachers. That is, the learning should continue well beyond graduation and the early years of teaching. As Professor Ian Menter (2011) of Oxford University, and formerly Professor of Teacher Education at the University of Glasgow says, a strong and sophisticated professional development framework throughout every stage of the career is a requirement for such a challenging and complex profession as teaching. Linda Darling- Hammond urged the importance of schools as professional development schools, with all schools being hubs of ongoing learning, with the shared responsibility of the education and training of student teachers being an important element of that culture. This is recognised in medical education with its emphasis of ongoing learning and assessment well beyond graduation and well beyond their internship. The medical model generally recognises also a far more collaborative model with the young doctor part of a team and developing a strong sense of belonging. Interestingly, the medical education model of internship is currently under review, with the most likely outcome being to extend the internship to a longer transition model with a more enhanced shared governance arrangement between health services and universities. This will develop further the clinical responsibility of final year medical students in patient care activities and emphasise the continued education beyond that year. Recommendations 1. The Australian Government s response to the TEMAG Report was very positive and supportive of the need for greater consistency in approach to school- based practical experience within teacher education and that this experience should begin as soon as possible within that training. It recognised that it was through such quality experience that new teachers built confidence and expertise to manage learning and cater to differing learning needs. Principals agree that establishment by AITSL of the essential requirements for school- based practical experience will be an important first step to bring greater consistency in approaches to practical experience. Describing foundational principles and achievement goals while avoiding blanket prescription will allow for the flexibility demanded by the diverse pathways to becoming a teacher. 2. Principals support the identification and dissemination of best practice examples of school- based practical experience both in terms of course requirements and implementation in schools. Given the diverse form and length of the practicum, as noted above, Principals recommend that best practice examples encompass the full range of accredited course offerings and the differences in the demands on schools and supervising teachers. 3. Principals support the development of a national assessment framework referencing the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. To assist in the successful management of practical experience placements, the framework should be publicly available online and include 9 Initial Teacher Education: School- based Practical Experience

10 assessment templates for a range of practical placement scenarios. This will support schools in instances where teacher education providers do not make available to schools adequate assessment guidelines or documentation. 4. The TEMAG Report suggests that standards and procedures for accreditation of initial teacher education programs are not effectively applied. Principals recommend that discussion commence on the relationship between the accreditation of teacher education providers and access to schools for practical placements. Schools would value a commitment to and implementation of the standards and procedures by providers. Principals also recognise the importance of a commitment by schools and teachers to application of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. 5. Principals support ongoing investigation and evaluation of diverse teacher education models and practical experience placements, including clinical models, residencies and internships. 6. Principals welcome the development of model partnership agreements between schools, school systems and teacher education providers. 7. It is recognised that school- based mentors will be the most appropriate model for maximising the effectiveness of school- based practical experience for a range of programs (such as clinical teacher education programs) and for particular stages of student teacher learning. The selection, training and support of mentor- teachers demand a considerable commitment of time and financial resources. Mentors should have a considerably reduced teaching load themselves, but act as co- teachers with the pre- service teachers. Training of mentors should be based on clear and coherent, nationally accepted best practice pedagogical approaches. Selection of mentors should recognise that mentors need to be outstanding adult educators, not just outstanding child and adolescent educators. AITSL s online mentoring course, which can lead to recognised professional learning on the part of participating teachers, represents one model for the training of mentors, and is commended. 8. Governments have a responsibility to resource a mentoring model well beyond the development of online courses. Participation in a mentoring course and allocation of time to mentoring of pre- service students is still a cost to teachers and schools. As noted above, success of school- based teacher education through a mentoring model will depend on commitment to adequate resourcing. The development of a federally funded national program for training teacher mentors and funding their time allocation in schools up to half a fulltime workload should be considered. If the intake of students to teacher education courses was better aligned to supply and demand considerations, and the number of entrants to teacher education courses capped, the savings in public expenditure could be invested in a national mentoring program. A system of trained mentors in schools also has the potential to support alternative pathways into teaching, for example for career- change professionals, including practitioners in the visual and performing arts or from VET- related industries, and for those in targeted areas of teacher shortage, including native speakers of languages other than English, or with a background in physics and chemistry or higher level mathematics. 10 Initial Teacher Education: School- based Practical Experience

11 9. As mentioned above, schools are becoming centres of research, experimentation and innovation. It is recommended that the Australian Government support the development of schools as sites for initial teacher education and ongoing teacher professional development by identifying and promoting examples of Professional Learning Institutes or similar within schools, including collaborative models of in- school action learning research. Conclusion The peak national Principals associations outline through this discussion paper and its recommendations a commitment to serve the needs of pre- service teachers and the development of the profession in order to ensure the best possible learning outcomes for students. High quality teacher education, incorporating highly productive school- based practicum experiences, is vital for Australia s future and needs strong support at all levels. The full engagement of schools and their staff in providing practicum placements and appropriate supervision and mentoring of student teachers while on placement will underwrite quality teacher education. It is therefore imperative that the national Principals associations continue to be consulted as AITSL progresses the Australian Government s reform agenda. REFERENCES AITSL (No authors named) (2013) Early teacher development Trends in initial teacher education. (Background paper prepared for the Asia Society s Global Cities Education Network (GCEN)). Available at documents/trends_in_initial_teacher_education_- _asia_society_for_aitsl_1.pdf. Darling- Hammond, L. (2013) Developing and sustaining a high- quality teacher force. Asia Society: Partnership for Global Learning Global Cities Education Network. Available at darlinghammond.pdf. Dinham, S. (2012) Walking the walk: The need for school leaders to embrace teaching as a clinical profession. Australian Council for Educational Research. Available at Jensen, B., Hunter, A., Lambert, T. & Clark, A. (2015) Aspiring principal preparation. AITSL Insights. Available at source/school- leadership/principal- preparation/aspiring- principal- preparation- (print- friendly).pdf. Menter, I. (2011) Review, review, review: teacher education in Scotland. In Murray, J. (Ed) Teacher education in transition: the changing landscape across the UK. Bristol: ESCalate. As referenced in AITSL (2013) op cit. 11 Initial Teacher Education: School- based Practical Experience

12 Renshaw, P. (2012) Literature review and environmental scan: Supervising professional experience students. AITSL Insights. Available at source/aitsl- research/insights/re00036_literature_review_and_environmental_scan_supervising_professional_e xperience_students_renshaw_jun_2012.pdf?sfvrsn=4. Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (2011) School Centres for Excellence: Discussion paper. Available at 12 Initial Teacher Education: School- based Practical Experience

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