Page 4014 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 16 Sept 2009

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We also need to reward teachers who put in the extra effort to coach our struggling students and to challenge our bright students. We need to thank the teachers who are actively engaging parents and carers in their children’s education. We want to encourage teachers to sit down with parents and carers and explain the report cards, the NAPLAN results and how they can help their child to learn at home as well as in the classroom.

What does the research tell us about teacher quality? It tells us that quality teaching matters, and the research is there to confirm it. We know from numerous national and international studies that, apart from the home environment, the classroom teacher is the major influence on student achievement. For example, research shows the importance of high expectations combined with a high level of student engagement and social support. These features are central to the ACT’s quality teaching model and are being implemented as part of the ACT’s new school improvement framework.

First, in relation to high expectations, the literature and evidence are clear. Academics such as J E Brophy and T L Good have provided guidance to teachers on how to convey high expectations in their classrooms. The evidence tells us that high expectations should not be interpreted in a static fashion. Quality teachers will be flexible. They will assess how to set the bar for each student, and this is why individual student results from NAPLAN and the primary indicators in primary schools tests are so important.

Second, quality teachers will engage their students. Again, we know instinctively that when a student is not interested, is not engaged, the capacity to learn is diminished. But this knowledge is also reflected in the evidence. F M Newmann found that engaged students make a:

… psychological investment in learning. They try hard to learn what school offers. They take pride not simply in earning the formal indicators of success—such as grades—but in understanding the material.

Engaged and supported students are those who ask questions, relate information to their experience and knowledge and develop a love of learning. Quality teachers will foster this natural curiosity.

Third, quality learning environments are those with high levels of what the experts call social support. Teachers can build social support by being relentless in their demands for students’ best efforts and being actively attentive to individual students and their progress. Teachers know when they have got that; they know that look of understanding which falls across a child’s face. I want teachers and students to experience more of these moments, and that is why this government is delivering quality teachers to government schools.

But what are we doing to improve quality teaching? Well, when I am out and about in the community and I am meeting parents and families from my electorate in Brindabella, parents tell me what they want. They want quality teachers in their classrooms who are highly trained, passionate, experienced and supported. The ACT

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