With educators keenly aware that Australian standards for 15-year-old students have slipped down the PISA scale, from being in the top 10 countries in 2003 to scraping into the top 20 a decade later, it’s clear that all round improvement is needed. And quickly.

For now, New South Wales is leading the pack with students sitting for this years HSC required to achieve at least three Band 5 results, incuding one in English, to enrol in a teaching degree, and all new or returning to work teachers to be accredited by BOSTES. From 1 January 2018, all teachers will need to be accredited to continue, return, or start teaching in a school in NSW… that’s just 30 short months into the future.

Where NSW is now, other state and territory governments will also go. Ongoing professional development will become mandatory nationwide for teacher accredition, as it is for professions like medicine, law and finance.

So the question becomes: how to get started on effective professional development – as a school network, as a school, as an individual teacher? Ken Wallace MD of Educator Impact (EI) is confident that his company has the solution.

EI is based on the techniques Change Labs has used since 2009 to design, enable and execute behaviour change programs for Optus, Microsoft, Apple, IBM and many other large organisations.

EI is grounded in more than 40 years of evidence-based, peer-reviewed academic research which supports the conclusion that improvement in the EI competencies will help to drive better outcomes for students. The process is based on best practice, tested and refined in the field to ensure quality and effectiveness, and subject to continuous improvement and innovation processes.

“EI provides a unique approach to using 360° feedback and integrated professional learning to help teachers develop their practice,’ Wallace says. “Outside of natural ability, there is no greater driver of student achievement than teacher quality.”

“It is very easy to use. It has been built with a behaviour change methodology in mind that argues if we want to efficiently facilitate professional growth and development then the system and process has to be easy to use but have great value. It can’t be cumbersome and be a huge burden as teachers are already very busy professionals.”

For schools
EI provides insight into school teaching strengths, areas for development and trends so as to empower decision-making and investment; for teachers, a way to set personalised development goals based on current capabilities and real data; and for students, to contribute to school improvement and teacher impact.

For principals
It also allows school leaders and their teachers to benefit from:

  • Data rich and formative reports embedded and mapped to the AITSL Australian Professional Standards for Teachers
  • Accredited CPD hours with BOSTES in NSW
  • Create a culture of collaboration and openness in the classroom.

For teachers
360° insight helps teachers get feedback from their students, from their peers, from their senior leaders and from themselves through critical self reflection to gain a complete picture of their teaching at any given point in time.
Customised and targeted development feedback helps them to see in easy to read visual format what their greatest strengths are in the areas where they are making real progress in the classroom, and what their areas of greatest development needs are – the things that if they could improve or tweak that would significantly increase the quality of output to their students.

Ongoing learning is supported through access to self-reflection, processing systems and templates, peer coaching and access to a library of resources.

Participation is conducted partly online and partly face-to-face in a safe environment where teachers can feel comfortable in receiving feedback, reflect and set goals. The first round takes four to five hours over five or six weeks to collect the data and set personal goals.

Quoted on the EI website a teacher said: “Students found the feedback very easy to provide. It was interesting to reflect so carefully on my own teaching practice with clear guidelines for reflection.”

More than 80 schools from the independent, catholic, and government sectors have signed up to trial EI in Terms 3 and 4 this year and Wallace is confident that most will commit to the ongoing program in 2016.

“Schools can choose how they want to use EI,” Wallace says. “It can be a big part or a small part of the change process. We encourage schools to trial EI first to assess its value and determine whether it’s a good fit for their professional development framework.

“360° feedback is an iterative process and is always just a snapshot in time. The differences that show up from each iteration with each new cohort of students can be very insightful and helpful for participating teachers and their principals.”

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