Recommendation #21 of the Minister of Education’s Task Force for Teaching Excellence - Maintenance of Certification for Teachers has, in no small way, created uncomfortable feelings for some educators in our province. Key word – some.
After all, the Alberta Teachers Association itself takes a very strong stance (as articulated in this 2012 position paper) on making sure individuals within its membership are reflective practitioners who use their professional judgement to provide leadership in matters related to their professional practice.
The Association is already dedicated to upholding professional standards, ensuring that a high quality of teaching continues to exist in Alberta. This would suggest that incompetent individuals are addressed in an acceptable manner.
So, as the individual responsible for Human Resources in my district, I have a great deal of interest in Recommendation #21 and how it may play out in the coming months; in particular the part that reads:
“Teachers would be required to prepare a teaching excellence dossier of evidence of their professional growth, currency and competency.”
I would encourage teachers to take a look at this slide presentation created by Doug Strahler, Communications instructor at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. He makes a good case in support of creating and continually updating a professional portfolio to reflect on and improve professional practice.
A portfolio, in my opinion, places the onus on the individual teacher to identify, reflect on, and address the aspects of their teaching that does or does not consistently meet the Teaching Quality Standard. This is not to say that the teacher did not meet the TQS when they were offered a permanent teaching certificate or a continuous contract. It simply means that as the education landscape continues to change, so does the evidence of what excellent teaching looks like.
And think about it – our C2 committee work throughout the province has us looking for ways to reduce teacher workload and build teacher efficacy. A portfolio could easily replace professional growth plans, evaluations, and year plans while providing a great platform for PD, collaboration and professional conversation.
We all know the recommendations brought forward by the task force have once again created a divisive climate. I don’t think anyone expected anything different. But not all task force recommendations require opposition. I’m sure all stakeholders can agree on a number of them. There is not a teacher in our province who would want their own child taught by a colleague whose practice is less than acceptable. One way to ensure this is through an expectation that teachers create, share and reflect on a dossier or portfolio, demonstrating that their practice continues to evolve.
Here is an exemplar I would like to share: Justin Lowe Portfolio.