What is the purpose of the Graduating Teacher Standards?

New Zealand Graduating Teacher Standard 7.b

Graduating teachers uphold the New Zealand Teachers Council Code of Ethics/Ngā Tikanga Matatika.

A few weeks ago I had someone “why were graduating teacher standards established in nz” and I thought “that’s a good question to which I don’t know the answer.” So I decided to blog on it and knock out another GTS post while I’m at it (because being on Teaching Experience I’m need to be a lot more efficient with my time).

Graduating Teacher Standards aren’t unique to New Zealand. In fact my project of blogging on each of the New Zealand Graduting standards was inspired by a Sydney-based student teacher blogging on the New South Wales version a few months ago.

The New Zealand stanadards were introduced back in2007 and came into effect in 2008. As you can see from the  media release from the New Zealand Teachers Council, the reason’s behind the GTS were due to an eneven quality of teachers graduating from the myriad of New Zealand-based intial teacher education providers. This year’s graduates will be third chorot of students to have their perforance assessed against the standards and I’ve had some mixed reviews about the purposes of the standards.

To be honest upon first glance the GTS definitely fell into the ‘useless paperwork we fill in to make bureaucrats happy camp.’ A view that was obviously solidfied when the evidence I needed to gather for the GTS were literally forms to fill out.  It wasn’t until I started reflecting on the Graduating Teacher Standards through blogging that I realised that they were more than just some annoying forms that the Teachers Council and the University makes me fill out, they are a conceptual framework on which I can hang my ideas on what I think makes good teaching and a good teacher. Being the giant nerd that I am, I’m already drafting my post against 7.c and am looking forward to finally publishing it because it will be the last post I make on this blog.

The first purpose of the Graduating Teacher Standards is obvious, they are used as an assessment tool for Associate Teachers and Visiting Lecturers to assess my progress. Looking back on my learning, I can see from formal teaching appraisals where I progressed from competent to strong on each of the Graduating Teacher Standards. I didn’t quite make goal of getting a clean sweep of seven strongs on one report but my last Associate Teacher gave me six out of seven so I’m pretty stoked about that.

The second purpose for the standards are more philosophical. Teachers are called upon to make hundreds of little decisions a day some of which are mundane does little Timmy get to go the toilet a few minutes before lunch through to biggies like suspected child abuse and the political minefield that is sex education.*

In the last 30 or so years there’s been a definite shift in thinking  about the status of children within society. Previously a child’s interest was previously seen through the lens of parental rights. If you look at the language of legislation like the Care of Children act, the best interests of the child are at the centre of decision-making. Similar language can be found in the Teacher Council Teacher Ethics. While some would argue that best interests of the child is another example of PC gone mad, it makes sense to place the interest’s of the child at the centre of all decision making if you believe that children are people too.

So yes the Graduating Teacher Standards have some purpose and I’m really looking forward to beginning the next learning journey on the path towards full registration.

* My first meeting as a student member of my school’s Board of Trustees consisted on a very heated discussion on this very topic.

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