Evidence of transformed teaching work: Where are the thirty-seven standards?

Year: 2015

Author: Talbot, Debra

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

National professional standards for teachers are part of the government’s reform agenda and bring with them expectations of transformed teaching, expressed through notions of ‘quality’ and ‘21st century learning’. The standards create a view of teacher learning as an activity undertaken by discrete individuals and heavily reliant on standards-accredited programs of professional development. This paper reports on a study conducted between 2011-2014 when teacher knowledge of, and engagement with professional standards was uneven, due in part to the government’s program of phased introduction. The study examined the learning experiences that each of eight teachers believed had helped them to transform their teaching work. It required them to describe what they thought they had learned, how the learning had happened, to select and demonstrate evidence of their learning, and to reflect on the ‘fit’, as they perceived it, between their learning and their evidence. The nature of evidence is discussed and consideration given to the notion of ‘evidence for no one’ in terms of the requirements associated with professional standards. Theoretically, the study was framed by an institutional ethnography approach to ‘mapping the social’ in order to reveal the complex of social and textual relations that coordinated the teachers’ learning in each case. A dialogic analysis of interview data was employed in that it was able to reveal the dominant and subversive influences that enable teachers to resist a compliance agenda in the interests of producing knowledge that assisted them to transform their teaching practice. Teachers demonstrated a capacity to work dialogically to: reflect on the relationship between their teaching work and the learning needs of their students; use the knowledge gained from such reflection to determine what it is they want and need to learn more about; make use of complexes of professional learning activity that have the potential to transform teaching work; learn something about their teaching work; demonstrate evidence that their learning has transformed their practice; and critically reflect on such evidence. There was no evidence from this study to support that guidance from the professional standards was critical to any of these processes.