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