Links are provided below to some of the policy documents which currently inform and influence our understanding and practices regarding professional learning in Scottish education. Some of the highlighted policies are not directly related to coaching and mentoring. However, their foci may have implications for professional learning and consequently the role of the mentor and/or educational leader. You may already be very familiar with these but take some time to identify the aspects of the documents that are relevant for your current work on professional learning and coaching and mentoring.
GTCS (2014) Professional Update: particularly the position paper on professional update and the advice notes on coaching and mentoring and professional review and development. Available: http://www.gtcs.org.uk/professional-development/professional-update.aspx (Accessed 27/09/2018)
Donaldson, G. (2011) Teaching Scotland’s Future. Edinburgh: Scottish Government. Available: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2011/01/13092132/15 (Accessed 27/09/2018)
the Australian experience of partnership which, in Models of Partnership in Initial Teacher Education31, is described as follows:
‘ The trend towards the reconceptualisation of school-experience and the relationship with schools arises from the recognition that student teachers’ learning is not always facilitated by the more traditional models of supervision. New models require supervisors to take the role more of facilitator than of critic and involve the redefinition of roles and responsibilities to include increased reflection, collaboration and partnership’.
This type of approach would enable student teachers to benefit from mentoring and coaching from the outset of their teacher education.
p52: There can be a tension between the mentoring and the assessment function that many mentors also carry out. This can affect the extent to which new teachers genuinely engage in coaching and mentoring conversations where they reveal weaknesses because of the consequences for the formal assessments their mentor undertakes.
Our evidence suggests that in Scotland the two roles have merged into one for many probationer teachers. The separation of the assessment function from the mentoring role is one of the many successful elements of mentoring within the Santa Cruz New Teacher Programme.
If we are to achieve the extended professionalism we seek, all teachers need mentoring skills to develop each other and support and challenge improvements to practice.
Effective mentors ensure an appropriate degree of challenge, possess subject expertise, and support mentees’ critical interrogation of practice (Smith and Ingersoll, 2004; Harrison et al, 2006; Hobson et al, 2007).
Research by Hobson et al notes that some teachers are ‘re-energised’ and ‘re-engaged’ with the profession through the adoption of a mentoring role in school.
p53: The model in Santa Cruz provides mentor support from experienced teachers who are released full time from teaching duties (for a period of two to three years) to mentor newly qualified teachers in their first year of professional practice. Systematic mentor training is provided for initial preparation and continues through weekly mentor forums and professional development planning.
p73: Whether or not a teacher has direct responsibility for mentoring of student teachers and probationers at any particular time, every teacher will be engaged in professional dialogue with peers. Mentoring and coaching skills enable much more effective dialogue and learning to take place within groups of teachers and with stakeholders and partners. all teachers should see themselves as teacher educators and be trained in mentoring.
National Partnership Group (2012) Report to Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning. Available: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2012/11/7834 (Accessed 27/09/2018)
GTCS (2012) The Professional Standards framework, Edinburgh: GTCS. Available: http://www.gtcs.org.uk/professional-standards/professional-standards.aspx (Accessed 27/09/2018)
Helpful overview: “This overview provides a high level summary of the overarching areas of Professional Knowledge, Understanding, Skills and Abilities addressed in the GTCS Professional Standards. The key areas of Professional Actions are then identified.”
- Engaging with all aspects of professional practice and working collegiately with all members of our educational communities with enthusiasm, adaptability and constructive criticality.
- Committing to lifelong enquiry, learning, professional development and leadership as core aspects of professionalism and collaborative practice.
Scottish Government. (2018). National improvement framework for Scottish education. Focus on pages 09-13 which looks at leadership and teacher professionalism. Available at: https://beta.gov.scot/publications/2018-national-improvement-framework-improvement-plan/ (Accessed 27/09/18)
Leaders at all levels who are empowered, and who empower others to take ownership of their own learning, have a strong track record of ensuring the highest quality of learning and teaching.
In many of these schools staff at all levels are taking on leadership roles and this points towards a developing culture of leadership responsibilities being distributed through schools.
There is a strong link between teachers’ professional skills and competences and the quality of children and young people’s learning experiences.
We want all new teachers to develop as enquiring professionals…
Education Scotland. (2018) Model of Professional Learning Available at: http://www.gtcs.org.uk/professional-update/professional-learning/professional-learning.aspx#model Accessed on 23rd October 2018
The central focus is the teacher-as-learner, the deeply interconnected relationship between the teacher-as-learner and children and young people, and the impact of this relationship on the learning experience.
Professional learning should be:
- Challenging and lead to developing thinking, knowledge, skills and understanding [Learning that deepens knowledge and understanding]
- Underpinned by an enquiring stance and developing skills of enquiry and criticality [Learning by enquiring]
- Interactive, reflective and involve learning with and from others [learning-as-collaborative]
- Informed and supported by Professional Standards and other educational policy.
Learning is an interactive and active process
Teacher as learner reflects on, in and about their professional practice, learning and students’ learning
Teacher as learner self-evaluates and considers own assumptions, context, relationsips with other and is self-aware
Conversations about learning are:
- frequent and prioritised
- productive and focused
- based on feedback loops between and for teachers, students, colleagues, leaders
Knowledge is developed by and with teachers, students, family/carers and learning community
- Engaging learners and their families/carers
- External knowledge and other expertise and perspective
- Learning with and from colleagues, pupils and others
- Teachers part of an active learning community
“Learning-as-collaborative” is about developing and enacting “social capital and being a collaborative professional.
VERY INTERESTING reference within this to Professional Capital (Hargreaves & Fullan)
I like this visual – could be a good tool for supporting dialogue with colleagues.
In recent policy publications there is a change in language from the use of ‘continuous professional development’ to ‘career long professional learning’. This shift signals a change in approach towards professional learning and signals the expectation of an engagement with development throughout an individual’s career. In reading these documents think about this change in language and focus on what the policy documents say about CLPL as well as how they say it.
Please answer the following questions in your journal:
• What do these policies say about teachers and teacher professionalism?
All teachers should be engaged in ongoing dialogue and reflection – it is part of their professionalism.
• How do they define and describe the role of teacher as learner?
Teacher as learner means on-going engagement in reflection on practice and policy – either individually or collaboratively.
• What impacts will these policy documents have on the role of the coach/mentor?
The policy wording is creating coaching-mentoring into an expectation of all teachers. Is this helpful? Could c-m not be held as an option for those that want it? IF everyone has to do it, could it loose quality?
• What assumptions are made about teacher learning and professionalism in the policy documents?
That all teachers aspire to the expectations.
That teacher learning can only be done through dialogue with others.
That to be a professional, you have to be involved in c-m practices.