Back to basics – when good ain’t good enough

Ok, first things first: I think I am a bloody good teacher. I don’t mean to brag, but I have grown a lot over my years in teaching. I am reflective, critically engaged, creative, passionate, dedicated to improvement and all those other good things that you want in your teachers.

You might not even know what you want in your teachers, but I do, and trust me, I have made it my business to figure out what makes a good teacher and to do those things to become one.

Now, I might not be a great teacher. I will cede that. I’m not so big-headed to believe that there is nothing you can teach me about teaching. I’ve been teaching for 9 years, which means I survived the 5 year black hole that half of my colleagues get sucked in to, and I think that counts for something. In those 9 years I have even achieved the ambitions I set my self quicker than I thought I could.

So why am I bringing this up? Well, my teacher training from the UK was through a course known as the Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP). It’s a pretty tough course. You get thrown in at the deep end of teaching, with a reduced timetable, from day 1. Sure, there’s a crash course in planning and behaviour management, but essentially you learn the job by doing the job. You still get the theory of the more traditional PGCE though after-hours sessions, although admittedly without having to write the academic papers to prove it, and you get a year’s teaching experience under a dedicated mentor. I think there are some issues with the GTP, but it really does produce some much more skilled graduates, in my opinion.

However, something I learned early on in my life here in Australia is that the GTP does not travel well. Since it is run in collaboration between Local Education Authorities and high-schools, it never passes through the esteemed gates of the academy. You don’t get a University issued qualification. You get a qualification that recognises your right to teach in England, but not an academic transcript that you can show anyone in other countries.

The Victorian Institute for Teachers (VIT) doesn’t recognise my qualifications or experience. Even the 6 years of experience of teaching in this country…but I am resigned to that now. I’ve had all the arguments with all of the reps and the resolution is simple: I am going to have to go back to the start and get proper Aussie qualifications.

So I am enrolled in an MTEACH, which seems like a fancied up version of the Grad. Dip. in Education. Really, I think they have just extended the duration and called it a Masters so that we will end up like Finland. Everybody in education is obsessed with Finland.

I have mixed feelings. (About the need for me to study, not Finland. The Fins are currently teaching me Java for free. I love Finland!)

On the one hand: this stinks. I have sat in on lectures where I have been taught about internet browser tabs, and academics are going to teach me how to write lesson plans, and at some point there is probably a session on sucking eggs.

But on the other hand, I am still a good, reflective, critically engaged teacher. I have access to online academic journals, for 18 months. I have decided to suck up my bad attitude towards this whole process (and believe me, I’m pretty dark about the VIT right now), and I will make the best of it. I have time and permission to bone up on theory without having to juggle 3 year 12 classes and parents and meetings and red-tape. I may not like that I HAVE to do this, but I do quite like that I CAN do it.

Sure, I’d rather not pay through the nose for the privilege, but it is what it is…

So the upshot is this: I will spend the next 18 months going back to basics so I can get registered, but I’ll also use my time wisely to actually get something out of this for me.

Back to basics – when good ain’t good enough

3 thoughts on “Back to basics – when good ain’t good enough

  1. Sue says:

    I’ve just come across your blog. Like you I’m a GTP trained teacher but moving to the U.S. this summer. I’ve spent hours trying to find out if there’s a way of getting a transcript. My programme was throught the Cambridgeshire Partnership and my certificate is on University of Cambridge paper as are all my assessment feedback. After all the research you’ve carried out, do you think I’m wasting my time trying to get it evaluated? I’m so frustrated as, like you, I know I’m a good teacher!

    1. Hi Sue, from what I understand you would be at an advantage to me since you do at least have some University backing to yours. I think GTP providers have been made aware of the difficulties faced by qualified teachers overseas and have made some efforts to aid the accreditation process with University partnerships like yours. Definitely get as much official documentation from Cambridge as you can – even if you do need to get re-qualified, academic transcripts will make it easier for you to get advanced standing from their Universities. Also, if you have any of your old portfolio documentation, don’t throw it out. Keep lesson observations that were signed by your mentor, and even your own lesson obs of other teachers…all of it can be used to build a case for why you should be given ‘special treatment’ should you need to do any re-training. Alas, I have none of that, so I am doing a whole training course from scratch.

      The US will have different rules to Australia, though. So find out who to contact to get registered in the US and find out what they require. I’d even go so far as to contact Universities in the US you might end up attending to find out what advanced standing you’d likely be eligible for.

      Also, find out if it is easier/cheaper to get a different qualification while still in the UK. Can Cambridge change your GTP into a PGCE with a little jumping through hoops? Even if they make you do another subject or two, paid for out of your own pocket, you might find that better than retraining in the US.

      Good luck. It’s frustrating and can really throw a spanner in your plans…but at the very worst you only need to retrain in something you are already good at. For what it’s worth, I’m acing all of my assignments, so I’ll look great when I graduate with my high scoring Masters next year 🙂

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