It’s Term 3 school holidays and Luke Polson, a primary teacher at The Armidale School, has traveled almost 500km to Sydney - not for a break, but to work.
As part of the AISNSW Teacher Accreditation Assessment panel, Mr Polson has joined with more than 100 highly experienced teachers at the AISNSW Offices to assess about 260 applications from NSW independent school teachers, who are also seeking recognition as Experienced Teachers.
But Mr Polson, a successful Experienced Teacher applicant in 2018, doesn’t see it like work. Instead, being among a fraternity of highly experienced and passionate teachers provides a great opportunity for his professional learning, he says.
Luke Polson, Primary Teacher, The Armidale School.
“This is very good for teachers in regional schools, because we don’t get opportunities like this to network with other teachers outside of our own school. You come here where there are 100 teachers from a variety of different schools.
“I think it will make me a better mentor for future teachers to do this – just having a better understanding of this whole process is what I am looking for – and yes, I absolutely feel like this is happening.”
“This is very good for teachers in regional schools, because we don’t get opportunities like this to network with other teachers outside of our own school."
Estelle Lewis, Head of Teacher Accreditation, AISNSW.
This annual event has been running at AISNSW since 2006. In that time, more than 2,000 applications have been assessed by highly trained teachers in independent schools. The evidence provided by applicants is moderated by the assessors and Independent Schools Teacher Accreditation Authority team. In 2019, 105 teachers gave up part of their holidays to review Experienced Teacher Standards-based applications. They were supported by 24 senior assessors. Following this panel, a further 16 teachers assessed the Experienced Teacher Action Research applications. The rigour in the assessment process means that principals are confident that successful teachers are working at the level of Experienced Teacher in their classrooms and schools.
AISNSW Head of Teacher Accreditation Estelle Lewis says teachers recognise that it’s exceptionally good professional learning among many other benefits.
“They look at other teachers’ practice; they get great ideas, and they then internalise that for their own practice. Some participate because they want to support teachers at their school. Others are simply curious because they’ve been an Experienced Teacher applicant and they want to see what it’s like on the other side.”
The rigour in the assessment process means that principals are confident that successful teachers are working at the level of Experienced Teacher in their classrooms and schools.
Selina Giles, a highly experienced TAS teacher at Newington College and Senior Assessor, believes deeply in the experience and the “Aha” moments it provides.
“It justifies what you’re doing professionally, and helps you identify areas of improvement, so it keeps me on my toes … it keeps me questioning my own practice.”
Selina Giles, TAS Teacher, Senior Assessor, Newington College
Ms Giles says the blend of professional learning and the collegiality help her as a teacher and leader in her school.
“It’s really important to mix with colleagues outside of your own bubble. I think as teachers we get very caught up in the way teaching and learning happens in our school. Being part of the panel shows us that independent schools all have a different approach,” Ms Giles says.
“I don’t think of it as giving up my holidays. It’s just one of those professional developments I do each year that I truly value.”