Teacher quality is widely recognised as the key contributor to the improvement in student outcomes.
Across Cessnock Community of Great Public Schools (CCGPS), quality teaching is at the forefront of professional learning and teaching practice to ensure our students are getting the best possible learning experiences in the classroom.
No-one questions that we want children to have quality teaching, but can we define what that means? In NSW we can. In 2003, the DEC had the University of Newcastle develop the Quality Teaching framework.
Within this, Quality Teaching (QT) breaks learning into 3 areas.
Intellectual Quality (what is being learnt)
Quality Learning Environment (how it is being learnt)
Significance (why it is being learnt)
Intellectual Quality includes Deep Knowledge, Deep Understanding, Problematic Knowledge, Higher Order Thinking, Metalanguage and Substantive Communication
Significance includes Background Knowledge, Cultural Knowledge, Knowledge Integration, Connectedness and Narrative.
Teachers use these areas to look at what is happening in the classroom.
By giving each area a score between 1 and 5, they can see what is working and what areas need to have more focus.
This is nothing new. Good teachers have always reflected on lessons, to see what they could be improved to help pupils. QT gives teachers a system to support this just as doctors reacting to a medical emergency have a framework to assess patients.
An example in the classroom would be where pupils have many chances to show their Deep Understanding but some students don’t do as well as they could.
Using QT as a tool to code the lesson, it shows that knowledge is never seen as problematic and questioned. The next lesson could be adapted to make sure knowledge is questioned. Of course, sometimes things need to be coded low on purpose. We would hope student direction to be low when children first low when children first learn contact sports.
The great news for parents of children at NSW public schools is that all DEC Schools have QT as a tool to use. The research is clear: when schools and teachers use QT as a tool consistently, pupil learning improves.
David Roy is a writer and lecturer in Education at the University of Newcastle and was a practising teacher for 17 years.