New Zealand graduating teacher standard 4.d
“Graduating teachers demonstrate proficiency in oral and written language (Māori and/or English), in numeracy and in ICT relevant to their professional role.”
Dear Teacher Education providers
Yesterday I received my pack for Teaching Experience 2 containing a wonderful array of informational booklets, multi-coloured forms for myself, my associate teacher and visiting lecturer to fill out on my next Teaching Experience. The forms look wonderful in their different colours and I’m sure its taken someone a long time to collate.
For fun I’ve also added the paperwork from this course that I’ve already amassed. The red folder is my unit plan from my last TE, the blue envelope has copies of the forms of my last placement, the clear folder contains all the marked assignments that my institution has printed out and sent back to me while the black folder underneath contains resources I’ve had posted to me during my studies.
Is this evidence of twenty-first century teaching practice?
I feel a bit bad for ‘outing’ my university but I know that they are not the only ones who still like to churn out paper for student teachers to collect and organize into ring binders. At my last placement there were students from three separate institutions and we were all doing the same thing: dutifully filing away pieces of paper which were filled out BY HAND for our institutions (and in turn Teachers Council) to see evidence that we are meeting the professional and legal requirements necessary to graduate and therefore teach in a classroom.
I’m trying to remember the last time I wrote something out by hand and it was for my exam and application forms to get into university. These processes seem so far removed from my reality where I learn, bank, shop, socialize and watch TV online. Almost all the teaching I did during my last placement was done using my laptop with physical materials for students to manipulate. I would have happily incorporated more if the students had devices themselves.
Perhaps I’m the lone blogger in a sea of people who like to file paper away in ring binders where no one else can read it or see it. But then the associate teacher at my last placement made a remark that these forms should be available in digital form and apparently she isn’t alone.
There are so many reasons why pre-service teacher practice needs to go digital.
- Waste of resources – From an environmental point of view the carbon footprint from the paper generated from these courses is phenomenal and I haven’t even factored in sending these packets out. Throw in staff time collating all these packs, putting the envelopes, sending them out receiving them again at the end of the placement and that’s a lot of time and money down the drain.
- Content not easily reproducible – I needed to have a goal setting conversation with my mentor so my last appraisals were important part of this conversation. In order for her to have the data I had to take photos of the photocopied forms (since my institution needs to have the originals), covert them into a PDF and email them off for my mentor so that we could both have a copy of the form as we live in different cities.
- Data security – For some reason people seem to think that hard-copies of evidence are more secure. I really don’t get that. If my school bag gets stolen while I’m at the gym or my water bottle leaks over my paperwork or perhaps someone spills coffee then ALL my paperwork is ruined. Backing up my work via hardrive, cloud data or USB means that I have multiple copies ready to go. Likewise not all digital content needs to be public like this blog.
But the big one is:
The process of filling in forms doesn’t encourage collaborative practice.
Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed a lot of incoming search strings (that’s visitors who have come to my blog via search engines) with phrases like
- “strategies for promoting and nurturing the physical and emotional safety of learners”
- “promote a learning culture which engages diverse learners effectively”
- “complex influences that personal, social and cultural factors have on teachers and learners”
Anyone working in teacher education should immediately recognize these phrases are from the New Zealand Teacher Council Graduating Teacher Standards.
These incoming search strings indicate students are coming here to look for information because the internet is where they go to find the information. Right now my e-portifolio is the only source of information of real-world examples of the Graduating Teacher Standards for students to easily access on the internet. In fact if you type the phrase “working cooperatively with those share responsibility for the learning and well being of learners” into google, a blog post of mine is the first entry. That’s a great ego boost for me as a blogger because someone might be using my information but I would love to have other students out there responding to my reflections and challenging my ideas because it will make me into a better teacher.
Institutions need to think about how they are encouraging student teachers to become digital literate, how to blend the digital technologies into our learning so we in turn can teach to others. Don’t assume just because we can text, facebook and google with the best of them that we are automatically digital literate. We may have mastered the technology, but it doesn’t mean we know how to apply it to our learning or students learning.
But we need to.
The students in our classrooms want it, our country needs it.
Right now teacher education providers are part of the problem of digital illiteracy when they need to be part of the solution.
If student teachers aren’t integrating digital learning into our practice at a university, when we have people who are supposedly far more learned than us show us the way, how are going to do it when we are out being real teacher? It goes down the bottom of the to-do list as we work our way through survival mode of the first few years in the profession. I don’t understand why institutions insist on perpetuating old practices when they should embracing the benefits that this new technology for pre-service teachers who will soon be out in classrooms full of digital natives who also don’t want to be filing away work in ring binders.
I’m six months away from graduation and I can assure I’m not pondering how to fill in forms or organize information into folders because I stopped using ring binders once I left high school. I am wondering how to incorporate digital learning that I’m doing here into a classroom setting? What digital tools can I use to promote the learning areas and key competencies of the New Zealand curriculum? How can I maximize the benefits of social media platforms to enhance learners literacy while minimizing the risks? What applications exist to plan collaboratively? How am I going to communicate effectively with a generation of parents who grew up in the digital age? What platforms can I use to organize student work? How do I stay relevant as a teacher in a world of information abundance?
I don’t know to the answers to those questions but I do know I won’t find them by filling in forms.
A student teacher
Postscript, this post influenced me to go ahead and digitalise my practice for my next Teaching Experience rather than waiting for the wheels of the university system to turn.