A new innovative pathway for Experienced Teacher accreditation is being piloted at AISNSW.
The Experienced Teacher Inquiry Pathway pilot was launched this year to provide applicants with an opportunity to conduct an inquiry with their students as part of their accreditation.
AISNSW Head of Accreditation Estelle Lewis said the catalyst for piloting the inquiry approach is to offer applicants a contemporary process where teachers can design their teaching and learning in response to the needs of their students.
“The idea is to take something they’re interested in and really look at whether it makes a difference or not. Hopefully, the answer will inform them whether the change they’ve made has made a difference to student outcomes and is really worth sustaining” -- Estelle Lewis.
Estelle Lewis (right) is working with 50 applicants on the pilot Inquiry Pathway for Experienced Teacher Accreditation.
“We thought the best way to do it was for them to pose a meaningful question about how they could promote their students’ learning,” Estelle said.
“The idea is to take something they’re interested in and really look at whether it makes a difference or not. Hopefully, the answer will inform them whether the change they’ve made has made a difference to student outcomes and is really worth sustaining."
The Inquiry Pathway is the first of its kind being offered to NSW independent schools. The model is based on the work of respected researcher and academic Professor Helen Timperley of the University of Auckland, and the Victorian Institute of Teachers, which offers an inquiry pathway for proficient teachers.
More than 50 applicants and 20 supervisors are taking part in the 12-month pilot.
Estelle said AISNSW’s role is initially to support the applicants to refine their inquiry question so they focus on one change in their classroom. In this way, applicants can determine the outcome of their inquiry. They then create and implement a program that includes the change. Applicants may choose a new pedagogical strategy, group organisation, mode of delivery, activities, assessment strategies or types of feedback. The applicants collect and analyse data and information so they can assess whether the change they have implemented has improved student learning.
Merrilyn Wilde, a Stage 6 Teacher at Giant Steps, a school for students with Autism, was encouraged to join the program by her principal. Her work supports students who have moderate to significant intellectual disability coupled with Autism.
The inquiry will help me understand if working as a group will have good results for the students” -- Merrilyn Wilde.
Merrilyn Wilde will assess if group work supports her students to be better problem solvers.
Merrilyn’s inquiry will assess whether implementing group work with her Stage 6 students has an impact on their ability to problem-solve. The inquiry focuses on a group activity where the students will together build a hammock swing for the school playground.
“I am excited because it takes an interest area that I have been developing in my own teaching over the past few years. The inquiry will help me understand if working as a group will have good results for the students,” Merrilyn says.
“For the last few years, I have been doing group and extended projects in my Stage 6 class as a way of mixing up the learning. I had started seeing some good results. Students were more excited about lessons, I would hear more comments or they would participate more or they would volunteer to have a go, and when they had a go they would try for longer, so I saw better engagement.
“I’ll develop that into a specific task and assess what happens – do they attempt to solve a problem, if it doesn’t work do they try again, do they try something different, do they ask for help. I will observe if they are able to try different ways of confronting a problem.
“I also want to see if they can transfer any of those problem-solving strategies into other day-to-day activities that will help them to be more independent. This is important for my students when they move on from this highly supported heavily resourced school environment.”
With three degrees already under his belt Phil McMurray, a Stage 3 coordinator at Penrith Anglican College, sees the Inquiry Pathway as a great opportunity to gain his Experienced Teacher accreditation using a research context without engaging in further tertiary study.
“I’m really excited about the pilot because it will improve my awareness of the value of professional conversations and professional research in stimulating my own learning,” Phil McMurray.
Phil McMurray ... hopes to improve his Year 5's Creative Writing skills.
“I’m really excited about the pilot because it will improve my awareness of the value of professional conversations and professional research in stimulating my own learning.
“I think the rigour of an inquiry project sharpens you in way that just finding work samples to prove that you’re doing what the standards require is not the same thing,” Phil says.
“I feel that the Inquiry process is requiring us to do what we expect of our students.”
Phil’s project will determine whether the quality of his Year 5 students’ Creative Writing skills can be improved by supporting the students to apply the characteristics of a learner such as planning, transferring, reviewing, and innovating.
“While I think it will be challenging, my plan is to survey the students about where they think they are now as a writer, how they use the learning muscles, the dispositions, whether they are good at being self-critical and self-aware and where they think their strengths and weakness lie,” he says.
“I hope that the students become much more confident in writing and reflecting rather than just producing something that teachers will give a tick to.
“My ultimate aim is to improve the Year 5 students NAPLAN results in Creative Writing ‘when they reach Year 7,” he says.
Estelle hopes the inquiry process will evolve teachers’ whole approach to their teaching and the students’ learning.
“It’s an innovative initiative and it’s a lot more cohesive than the Standards Pathway. Teachers really have the opportunity to reflect on their practice and learn how to be a better teacher and that is going to impact on their students’ learning.”
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