Last night’s Ann D. Clark lecture delivered by Professor Stephen Dinham OAM was attended by over 800 leaders and teachers within our system, including colleagues from other dioceses, the Department of Education, the tertiary sector and the Board of Studies. Dinham raised a number of issues about the important work of teachers and how we should effectively recompense them.
As I mentioned in my opening remarks, the ADC lecture continues to provide a crucial, learning-based framework for our system. It is a concrete expression of our theory of action, which is demonstrated in the following ways. Firstly, it is about placing student learning at the centre of our work, influenced by good teachers who continually reflect and improve their practice. We refer to this as teacher learning. And secondly, it is about our commitment to our leaders’ learning and our system learning.
We cannot underestimate the power of this collective learning experience – the opportunity to listen, reflect and learn. The ADC lecture is a quality demonstration of professional learning for our system. Professor Dinham continues on the themes that make a difference to the work we do – the simple, yet sophisticated philosophy of improving student learning by having good teachers teaching.
Dinham said the ultimate aim is to have a quality teacher in every classroom but how to achieve this is the big challenge. NAPLAN is only a small part of the bigger picture in gathering evidence and data on effective learning.
Dinham gave some examples of what we see in successful classrooms:
- focus on the student
- leadership that is inclusive
- clinical practitioners that assess, diagnose, prescribe and evaluate
- teachers who rethink the way they were taught
- clusters of schools that come together for mutual betterment based on problem solving – collaborative focus
- data not used for compliance but improvement
- vision important but rest on evidence
On the timely issue of recompensing teachers, Dinham said we need a major renovation of teachers’ salary and career structures to take us into the 21st century. Previous attempts such as merit pay have largely failed. Dinham proposes that recompensing teachers must be aligned with levels of achievement and competence, although this cannot be mandated.
I am pleased to see the ‘conversation’ continuing via Twitter (#ADC2011) allowing our colleagues around the globe to contribute to their own professional learning.
The 2011 ADC lecture serves as a reminder of the power of ongoing professional learning as a community of educators.