Weekly Column from the Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta
A recent report from the Grattan Institute calls for fancy new jobs for Australia’s top teachers. Wrong solution: it’s an old fashioned fix that shirks a shake-up of how schools operate. Shouldn’t our top teachers spend more time teaching, not less?
There has always been pressure on good teachers to rise through the ranks in education. So many of my colleagues who were brilliant classroom teachers ended up in non-teaching positions for much of their working lives – a real loss to students!
Creating the positions of ‘Master Teacher’ and ‘Instructional Specialist’ recommended by the Grattan Institute would see our finest educators further from the frontline. It feels a bit like giving up on skilling all our school staff. We need to keep our focus on their development because every child deserves a top teacher.
This is how we make sure that every teacher knows how to meet the needs of every student. If that sounds idealistic, think about your expectations when you visit the GP. You want the people supporting your child’s learning every day to know what they’re doing, and to seek specialist support for kids when they need some extra help.
It’s time to think differently about how schools work. We have a Virtual School program already operating across our schools in Western Sydney that sees students across many schools being taught as one class online. This is one way that allows great teachers to connect with more students. We only need to look at YouTube superstar maths teacher Eddie Woo to see how successful the online learning platforms can be!
Technology has also changed the way teachers learn. There are now new smarter ways for staff to collaborate, learn from each other and access outstanding professional learning. I love the idea of team teaching too, because it recognises that we’re all in this together.
So how do we make sure that every child gets a top teacher? We need to respect that everyone in the classroom is a learner, teachers included. This means high expectations all around and supporting all staff in their learning too.
Greg Whitby AM
Executive Director of Schools – Diocese of Parramatta