by Hagan (English teacher)
An ancient tradition
Before a teacher is really a teacher they have to complete a series of tasks worthy of an epic poem. Such a poem is beyond my skills as a chronicler. And so, a blog post. First, the teacher must confront a horde of angry townsfolk, then navigate a labyrinth, and finally subdue a three headed monster. This is called a “Teacher Project”. It is the final hurdle before a provisionally registered teacher receives their full registration. For the stalwart educator and registration-seeker Chloe Nichols, an added challenge: do it all online.
First labour: The angry townsfolk
Okay, so, I’m using metaphors here. The “angry townsfolk” are a class of students, namely, the Senior HASS class. They aren’t very angry. The Senior HASS class is probably the most accommodating bunch of peasants you could bring together in a Google Meet. For this class, Chloe had to design and deliver a unit of work with an inquiry question in mind, and write a report about it as the project progressed. She researched her inquiry question, planned and implemented her lessons, collected data in the form of students’ work and feedback, and reflected on the whole process, including the question itself.
This is pretty much what a teacher does on the daily, sometimes formally, sometimes less so. The “Teacher Project” is an effort to professionalise the teaching profession, and encourage teachers to be clinical practitioners — a metaphorical term in itself, comparing teaching to the practice of medicine.
The second labour: The labyrinth
The “labyrinth” is less forgiving, yet deceptive, because it’s made of paper. A simple bin fire would solve this riddle. You don’t require a ball of string to escape, just the time to read through all the paperwork provided by the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT). To find the end of this labyrinth, the applicant must prove they have met the standards in the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership’s Professional Standards for Teachers. There are seven standards. But, each standard has up to seven substandards. And each of those substandards has four levels of proficiency. Chloe’s task was to prove she met the “Proficient” level of… proficiency. In all, she needed to prove that she fulfilled all 37 descriptors of what a proficient teacher looks like.
The third labour: The three-headed monster
To whom must she prove her proficiency? To “the three-headed monster”, of course, which guards the gates of the teaching profession. A panel of three judges, made up of the most evil, snarling, spitting, hostile hot-heads you can imagine, and vicious bureaucrats to boot — Bob, Penny and me.
The metaphor seems to have come undone by now. In the end, Chloe turned the tables on the pencil pushers by submitting a project report of no less than 25,000 words. It was only when we came to the point of submitting the report that we realised that nobody at the VIT is going to read it — there was no option for her to upload it! Unless she gets audited, that is. Which I almost hope she does, just so someone can see what happens when professionalism is transmogrified by passion into something well beyond the standard.
(I get to write this, by the way, because I was officially Chloe’s grey-haired mentor throughout the process.)