It’s been a long time since an apple was left on a teacher’s desk to say thank you.
These days it’s personalised gifts and letters of thanks from parents, but are we doing enough as an industry to say thank you to the thousands of educators who week in, week out, play a critical role shaping the future of Australia?
The simple answer is we could and should be doing a lot more.
The best gift we can give our educators this Christmas is additional teacher training and professional development so Australian students remain competitive on the global stage.
What many people don’t realise is Australia’s eight states and territories are in the final years of adopting a national set of competencies. However, the impact of globalisation, technological advances, the evolution of media and communication, greater insight into mental health and changing environmental and social factors means Australia’s national set of competencies are constantly in a state of evolution.
Teaching in this state of flux is challenging at best. That’s why it’s vital educators are gifted greater support and training. Our educators, like the national curriculum must be responsive to change.
It is essential the Minister for Education and Training, Hon Simon Birmingham and his state and territory counterparts commit additional resources and funding to teacher training and professional development, so Australian teachers remain nimble and agile.
If Australia’s robust set of competencies are changing, growing and evolving, we must ensure our teachers who are at the coal face of this can do the same and are prepared, irrespective of age, level or school-type to teach the content needed now and in the future.
My colleague and New South Wales President of the Australian College of Educators, Dr Phil Lambert recently wrote an occasional research paper paper on behalf of the New South Wales Department of Education. Titled Hard Focus on Soft Skills, it revealed Australian educators should consider adopting methodologies and practices from around the globe that have been found to better equip educators.
Phil’s investigation discovered many Chinese teachers spend considerably less time in the classroom compared to their Australian contemporaries. Instead they mentor, work as a team and provide each other with feedback and constantly look at ways to improve their teaching methods.
The paper also identified key differences between competencies being taught in Australia and the rest of the world. In many European countries there’s a greater emphasis on resilience and having a global mindset.
While in Singapore, Japan and South Korea, teachers and students are re-calibrating for a knowledge based economy to remain economically competitive.
Whatever the future holds and irrespective of the competencies and methodologies Australia adopts, we must give our teachers the tools to succeed.
So, in the spirit of Christmas and giving, let’s gift our educators the additional support and training they so desperately deserve.
Chief Executive Officer
Australian College of Educators