Got it!
We use cookies to enhance your experience. By continuing to visit this site you agree to our use of cookies. More info

Already a subscriber or advertiser? Enter your login information here

Thursday, 6 May 2021

FREE! Sign up for the TIE newsletter and never miss out on international school news, headlines, resources and best-practices from around the world!

28 April 2021 | It's a Journey
15 April 2021 | What have we learned?
31 March 2021 | The Time Is Now
17 March 2021 | Designing the Return
04 March 2021 | #MyFreedomDay
17 February 2021 | Revealing the Hidden Curriculum
3 February 2021 | Bring on the Mistakes

view more

 

Enter your email below to sign up:

Ready to subscribe and get all the features TIE has to offer? Click here >>


INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL APPOINTMENTS

You are here: Home > Online Articles > 8 Ways to Use Teacher Standards to Boost Quality Teaching

Pedagogy & Learning

SEARCH

8 Ways to Use Teacher Standards to Boost Quality Teaching

By Bambi Betts

04/27/2021

8 Ways to Use Teacher Standards to Boost Quality Teaching

Teacher standards? “Yes, we have them—at least I think we do… Aren’t they somewhere in the staff handbook?”


Sadly, this is an all-too-frequent refrain from our fellow educators around the world.


There is strong agreement that every profession should maintain and monitor clear standards of practice, including the teaching profession. We rely on these standards to define the essence of the work of the profession and ensure integrity, keeping us grounded in the best of what research can offer.


No doubt in your school many teachers are daily exhibiting those standards. But are they getting all the help they need to use the standards as a powerful scaffold for doing what professionals do—that is, hold ourselves accountable and get better every day?


Might school leaders be missing out on leveraging those standards to serve as the foundation of a scaffold that would allow their educators to achieve even greater and more consistent quality teaching?


Standards misused?


We will talk leverage, but first let's put on the table a few school-leader practices that may lead to standards being written off by teachers as an institutional dinosaur, a stiffler of creativity and autonomy, a proverbial “hoop” to jump through in a course meant to satisfy out-of-touch, ivory-tower residents. It can feel like this when they are:



  • used as a “formula” to evoke conformity; when standards become “standardization”

  • oversimplified to form a tick list

  • overly prescriptive, as in 23 pages of rubrics

  • deployed as a threat

  • used as an evaluation tool without prior notice

  • only trotted out during accreditation

  • considered to be minimum performance rather than aspirational

  • berated by school leaders as valueless


When evoked in these ways, we understand why teachers run for the hills at the mere mention of “standards.” School leaders really have no choice but to be attentive to the standards of the profession, however. They live beyond the school; they are established at the level of the profession. But they do have a choice about whether to use these principles to uplift the profession and individual teachers or rather cast them as an albatross around educators’ necks.


Standards as allies: 8 ways


Just as standards can be mightily abused, there are many ways to leverage them to achieve their even mightier purpose. And it's all in a single notion: alignment. Alignment of purpose and alignment of practice.


Let’s start right at the beginning.



  1. Recruit with them


Imagine if the very first encounter a potential candidate has with your school is a rich opportunity to showcase quality teaching by presenting evidence of each standard. Imagine how much more productive your very first interview might be if your framing is around the universally acknowledged essentials of the profession, which are equally about practical skills and dispositions.



  1. Ask for a standards-based, evidence-based resume


Even before that first encounter, help candidates “lean in” to your school’s culture foregrounding a healthy respect for teaching as a profession by requesting a newer form of ‘resume’ one based on evidence—standard by standard (see TIEonline.com for a well-developed example).



  1. Use them as the framework for letters of recommendation and phone check-outs


As international school leaders, ensuring that every child in our care will have a quality teacher is a weighty responsibility. We do rely to some degree on the opinions of our colleagues to help us identify teachers who embody that quality and will be able to do so in the context of our school. Here again, standards are a golden opportunity to greatly improve the tools international school leaders use to help each other identify quality teachers. Draft all letters of recommendation using the standards as the framework (see Confidential Letter of Recommendation forms in TIEonline,com as an example). Ask candidates to let their referees know letters should be framed around standards. Have the standards with you when you make that check-out call.



  1. Use them as the starting point for teacher growth and appraisal programs


Professional standards are the very foundation of an effective process for promoting teacher growth and accountability. A system with no standards can quickly create one of two cultures: one mired in an endless clash of opinions about who knows more about teaching or a culture of “nice,” where unchecked mediocrity can stunt teacher growth.



  1. Use them to shape professional learning opportunities


When planning for professional learning opportunities, ask teachers to align their requests with one or more of the standards. We all know how whack-a-mole professional learning can be—a real roulette as to whether it will actually help the teacher to improve practice. Crafting PD experiences around standards reinforces the fact that the quality of teaching of each individual has the most essential influence on learning. 



  1. Use them as student and parent survey starters


International schools are often experienced consumers of parent and student feedback. Understandably for parents, their feedback, if not framed differently through the survey tool, become opinions based almost exclusively on their own experience in school. Their experience becomes the “standard” against which they judge what’s happening with their child. Framing parent survey tools around teacher standards, described in parent-accessible language, has so many benefits. It educates parents on what quality teaching really is; it provides them with a benchmark other than their own well-intentioned ones; it becomes a standard-setter by building a culture of professionalism.



  1. Use them for teacher self-reflection


A self-assessment of practice is another common tool in international schools. In all professions there is an underlying notion that to be a professional is to embrace the cycle of “act-reflect-adjust.” Whatever other reflection teachers are doing—be it about their contribution to school goals, or their own personal goals—routine reflection, standard-by-standard, lifts them up to the essence of the profession.



  1. Use them to create curated resources


The teaching profession, like most others, is organic by design. As research leads to new understanding about how people learn and the web of curriculum synapses that it engenders, standards are rightfully raised and refined. Ready access to that research is essential to achieving the overarching goal of quality teaching. Try systematically organizing the resources made available to teachers around the standards.


The theme here is straightforward. Professional standards are a key to boosting the quality of teaching. Let’s open that toolbox and get ready to build a scaffold worthy and capable of supporting our teachers, our schools, and the profession. 


This article references the Standards of Practice for International Teachers (also Teacher Leaders, Principals, Counselors and School Heads).




Please fill out the form below if you would like to post a comment on this article:

Nickname (this will appear with your comments)
Email
Comments


Comments

04/28/2021 - Ms Jones
One difference between international teaching and teaching at home in the public system is that there are so many people teaching classes in the international environment who are not professional teachers (meaning anywhere/ in any country) and do not even know that standards exist. We have to interface with them. That means that the kind of workplace problems you might see in a roadside Wendy's will creep into your school and there isn't much you can do about it, because only 70% of the teachers on staff are actually teachers who have a professional identity.

MORE FROM Pedagogy & Learning
The entire future of how our schools will function appears to be the subject of some considerable de ..more
The whole point of the learning sciences is to use what we know about human cognition in order to cr ..more
Formative assessment presents a powerful opportunity for improving student outcomes. Here are severa ..more
DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION
We Don’t Want to Talk About It
By James Toney
27-Apr-21
GORDON ELDRIDGE: LESSONS IN LEARNING
What Are the Elements of an Effective Global Citizenship Curriculum?
By Gordon Eldridge, TIE Columnist
03-Mar-21
Designing Curriculum for Global Citizenship
By Gordon Eldridge, TIE Columnist
08-Dec-20
THE PRINCIPALS' TRAINING CENTER