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Module 6: The Teacher as a Professional

Introduction to Module 6:

This module consists of 6 weeks of learning:

Week 1: Being Professional and Being a Professional

Week 2: Establishing and Building Effective Working Relationships with Colleagues

Week 3: How to Effectively Work with your TA

Week 4: Working with Other Professionals

Week 5: Working Effectively with Pupils' Parents and Caregivers

Week 6: Looking After Yourself

The Learn that... and Learn how to statements covered within this module are captured on the ECF Induction Programme mapping document. 

Week 1: Being Professional and Being a Professional

This week will focus on exploring the notion of professionalism and explore being professional and being a professional.  We will firstly, reflect upon individual perceptions of professionals and what defines a profession before exploring the literature around this and models that may support your understanding and application.  Finally you will consider elements of your own professionalism.

Teachers' Standards:

Reflection and Discussion

This week, we will reflect before we explore the evidence and research around being a professional and professionalism.

Consider the following questions:

  • What traits/values/virtues do you hold that you feel makes you align with the professional values of teaching?

  • What do characteristics (virtues) do/should teachers typically have?

  • What is there that explicitly identifies you as a professional?  

  • Are teachers professional in the way that practitioners of law and medicine are? (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012, p80)

  • How are teachers different to TAs?

  • Are there things that teachers do that are different to other professions?

  • Are you professional all of the time?  What does that look like?

  • What challenges your professionalism?

Now, take a moment to define what you understand it is to be a professional and also what defines a profession?.  

Is being a professional/a profession related to qualifications, job type, pay, an association to a professional body...?   Is a professional teacher the same as a professional cleaner?  What might be the differences? Is their an agreed-upon knowledge base? (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012, p81)

How is being a professional/a profession different to professionalism?

The University of Birmingham's Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues explore the notion of character and how our virtues (character traits) can be developed.  They categorise character traits under 4 categories, which are shown below.  This table does not include every possible virtue (character trait) and you may think of others.

Take a moment to look at the virtues.  Which do you feel are important for teachers to possess?  

You may want to reflect on your own character traits - what are your strengths and where do you need to focus?

We will explore character education more in year 2 of this induction programme applying this to your pupils.  But for now consider character and its links to being a professional.

Screenshot 2023-04-26 at 12.27.59.png

(Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, 2022)

Evidence and Research:

Being Professional, Being a Professional and Profession

Hargreaves and Fullan (2012) suggest that when we consider the word 'professional' we tend to think of two different things: Being professional and being a professional.  It may be that we use these interchangeably without consider what they mean, not seeing the addition of 'a' as altering the meaning at all.

They present these definitions to provide clarity:

"Being Professional:

Is about what you do, how you behave.  It's about being impartial and upholding high standards of conduct and performance.  Being professional is about quality and character - not getting too personally involved with children, refraining from gossiping about parents, and learning to challenge colleagues' actions without criticising them as people.

Being a Professional:

Has more to do with how others regard you, and how this affects the regard you have for oyurself.  This is what people are usually referring to when they ask whether teaching is truly a profession or not.  Does it have the same status  and levels of reward that other professions do? Is the training long and rigorous? Do members of the profession have collective autonomy over their own actions, and freedom from excessive outside scrutiny?" (Hargreaves and Fullan, 2012, p80)

A standard and typical checklist of what constitutes a profession often includes the following features:

Checklist for a Profession:

  • "Specialised knowledge, expertise and professional language.

  • Shared standards of practice.

  • Long and rigorous processes of training and qualification.

  • A monopoly over the service that is provided.

  • An ethic of service, even a sense of calling, in relation to clients.

  • Self-regulation of conduct, discipline and dismissals.

  • Autonomy to make informed discretionary judgements.

  • Working together with other professionals to solve complex cases.

  • Commitment to continuous learning and professional upgrading".

(Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012, p80)

As you read through the checklist, how many statements did you tick?  Are you becoming clearer on whether you feel teaching is a profession?

It must be remembered that there are specific expectations set by the Government in relation to teaching standards.  Within the Teachers' Standard document.  Within this document section 2, focuses on personal and professional conduct: 

Screenshot 2024-05-09 at 11.07.11.png

(Dfe, 2021)

Take a moment to remind yourself of these.

Character and Being Professional:

Hargreaves and Fullan (2012) mention how being professional "is about quality and character" (p80).

During your reflection, you explored the character virtues highlighted by the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues (2022).

You may find exploring it useful to take some time to read through elements of the following publication that explores character and initial teacher education.  Whilst the messages within this document are specifically focused at initial teacher education and student teachers, a lot is relevant for ECTs, experienced teachers and school leaders. (A hard copy of this document can be found in your school CPD library).

Screenshot 2024-05-09 at 11.17.07.png

The Importance of Professionalism and Defining Teacher Professionalism:

The Chartered College of Teaching, has very recently published working paper exploring the importance of professional in teaching, defining what this might look like.

They present a summary diagrammatic representation of a working definition of professionalism, adapted from the work of Mezza (2022).

Take a look at this below, and consider how these factors represent you as a professional.

Screenshot 2024-05-09 at 11.52.42.png

Take a moment to read through the working paper:

Screenshot 2024-05-09 at 11.56.44.png

Application and Exploration of Practice and Setting:

Having reflected upon yourself as a professional and having explored the notion of being professional and being a professional, identify three areas of your professionalism that you wish to focus on and develop within your own practice.

Download and complete the action plan below and bring this to discuss at your weekly mentor meeting.

Screenshot 2024-05-13 at 15.21.44.png

References

Carden, C. et al (2023) Character and Initial Teacher Education: A Practical Guide. Bimingham. University of Birmingham.

DfE (2021) Teachers' Standards: Guidance for school leaders, school staff and governing bodies.  Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/61b73d6c8fa8f50384489c9a/Teachers__Standards_Dec_2021.pdf

Hargreaves, A. and Fullan, M. (2012) Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School.  Abingdon. Routledge.

Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues (2022) The Jubilee Centre Framework for Character Education in Schools 3rd Ed.  Birmingham.  University of Birmingham.

Muller, L.M. & Cook, V. (2024) Revisiting the Notion of Teacher Professionalism. Chartered College of Teaching. Available at: https://chartered.college/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/Professionalism-report_2-May.pdf  

Week 2: Establishing and Building Effective Working Relationships with Colleagues

This week will focus on establishing and building positive and effective working relationships.  We will clarify what workplace relationships are in contrast to personal relationships and explore how you can effectively build positive and effective workplace relationships looking at key elements and behaviours and attitudes associated with such.  You will reflect upon the working relationships within the school as well as your own behaviours and attitudes based upon your learning.

Teachers' Standards:

Evidence and Research:

The relationships you build with colleagues and managers are crucial.  

Working relationships are a formal association with those you work with and for that serves to ensure effective teamwork and outcomes whereas personal relationships involve much more emotion and sharing of personal truths (Indeed, 2023).

Where there exist positive working relationships, people feel confident in voicing opinion, sharing ideas and supporting new initiatives.  Where there are effective and positive working relationships teams are much more able to embrace change, be creative and innovative, have high morale and are more productive (MindTools, n.d).

Developing positive and effective working relationships also bring professional benefits to you!  Having a strong 'professional circle' will support your career development and offer greater career opportunities (MindTools, n.d).

Take a look at the video about how to build effective relationships at work:

There are 5 key elements that define effective working relationships:

  • Trust - trusting your colleagues enables you to be honest and open.

  • Respect - having mutual respect ensure contributions are valued and solutions built on a collective insight.

  • Self-awareness - is a key element of emotional intelligence and means taking responsibility for your own words and actions and the impact that these have on those working alongside you.

  • Inclusion - welcoming diverse perspectives and opinions as well as differing ideas and solutions enables effective and creative working relationships to blossom.

  • Open Communication - positive and effective relationships are built on good communication.  It is vital that you communicate effectively whether this is face to face, via email or in any other form. (MindTools, n.d).

What can you do to enhance your working relationships?

  • Be an effective communicator - communicate clearly, carefully and regularly and ensure you are aware of the non-verbal cues you communicate.

  • Be consistent and trustworthy - ensure you do what you say you will do and when you say you will do it.  Do this consistently.  This builds trust in a working relationship and people realise that they can rely on you.

  • Avoid gossip - avoid breaking trust by talking behind someone's back.  Develop the skills to have a professional conversation with colleagues when you feel you need to say something.  Never join in with gossip.  Gossiping leads to a toxic culture.  If you feel confident in work, go as far as to challenge anyone gossiping by professionally highlighting that this is not appropriate.

  • Support fellow team members - offer support to colleagues where you are able.  This builds a team centred around collegiality.

  • Remain positive in your interactions - remaining positive helps to motivate people, constantly being negative is draining.

  • Know and adhere to the school's guidelines and expectations - ensuring you are meeting these consistently, acting as a role model for others.

  • Deliver high-quality work in a timely manner - ensure that you work is of at least the expected standard and undertake actions in the agreed timeframe.  Where there are needs for development, positively engage in suitable learning opportunities.

(Adapted from Indeed, 2023)

You may also like to take 5 minutes to read this short article by Education Support that offers advice for improving your workplace relationships.

Screenshot 2024-05-17 at 14.39.55.png

Application and Exploration of Practice and Setting:

Spend some time over the course of the week observing how colleagues interact with one another.

Consider the key elements that contribute to positive and effective workplace relationships - trust, respect, self-awareness, inclusion and open communication.

Where can you see evidence of these?

Have you experienced interactions whereby these elements were not present?

Speak to your mentor/Headteacher about the expectations the school has around effective workplace relationships.

Reflection and Discussion

Now take some time to consider how your develop positive and effective workplace relationships.

What are your strengths?

Where are there areas that you feel you need further development?

What might you develop or change with regards to your behaviours and attitudes as a result of your learning this week?

References

Education Support (no date) Advice for Improving Your Workplace relationships. Available at: https://www.educationsupport.org.uk/resources/for-individuals/articles/advice-for-improving-your-workplace-relationships/

Hickman, M. (2019) How to Build Good Relationships at Work. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsWGdDIK6XA

Indeed (2023) How to Build Good Working Relationships at Work.  Available at: https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/starting-new-job/how-to-build-good-working-relationships

MindTools (no date) Building Good Work Relationships. Available at: https://www.mindtools.com/aorqe4z/building-good-work-relationships

Week 3: How to Work Effectively with your TA

This week will focus on considering how to work effectively with your TA.  We will explore recent EEF research and guidance 'Making the Best Use of Teaching Assistants' and consider how you can apply this guidance to enhance your practice and ensure your TA has maximum impact on learning and student progress in your classroom.

Teachers' Standards:

Evidence and Research:

Teaching Assistants (TAs) are a key resource a teacher has as part of their pedagogical toolkit.  All too often TAs are significantly under, or ineffectively utilised and become an expensive resource that does not provide enough impact.

The EEF (2021) produced guidance on 'Making the Best Use of TAs'.  Take a look at the summary of recommendations they have made, below.  You can access the document by click on the image.

This week, focus on recommendations 2-4.  This will support you in effectively using your TA and will have, in turn a greater impact of the learning in your classroom.

Screenshot 2024-05-23 at 12.51.03.png

The full report can be accessed below.  You may find it useful to explore sections 2-4.

Screenshot 2024-05-23 at 12.56.27.png

A key element to working with your TA is your role in supporting preparation, managing their time within the lesson and providing feedback.

It is vital that you plan time within your working week to undertake the following:

  • Explaining the learning for the day by subject and lesson

  • Clearly setting expectations of what you would like your TA to undertake in each lesson and how you wish them to do this.  E.g. Would you like them to work with a specific student?  What in particular would you like them to do by way of support and challenge for this student?

  • How will you gather any relevant information about the student's progress and attainment from your TA?

It may be that you decide to put time aside on one day a week to look forward to the week ahead or to meet daily to explore the forthcoming day.  This is up to you and should be based on what works for you and the TA and the availability you both have.

Often teachers assume that TAs instinctively know what to do during the lesson.  As a result, it is common to see TAs sitting or standing around.  Do not assume!  Take time whilst sharing your plans to set clear expectations as to what you want to the TA to be doing.  You may need to remind them of this during the lesson if you see that your expectations are not being met.

If TAs are working with individual students, or groups, as a teacher you need to know the progress that the student/s have made in the lesson.  You therefore need to gather this information from your TA.  This might be through a conversation or alternatively you could devise a simple pro forma for the TA to complete and share with you.

You may find you can adapt this into a live document that includes the expectations you set for the TA too?

An example of a pro forma can be found (and adapted) below:

Screenshot 2024-05-23 at 13.22.31.png

Over a longer period of time, it is important to schedule regular opportunities to feedback with your TA.  As a class teacher you are best placed to offer this, whether you are the line manager or not, you have the responsibility to ensure your TA is supported and developed to be able to offer the best possible support that offers impact.

You might decide to have a feedback session every short term where you discuss the impact they are having on learning, their strengths, areas for development and signposting to professional development and learning opportunities.

Application and Exploration of Practice and Setting:

From your learning, actively embed this into practice.

Establish a time whereby you will discuss planning and expectations with your TA and begin to introduce these.

Share and explain the TA log and try this out.

Establish a time to meet for a feedback session and establish these in the diary moving forward, explaining to your TA the purpose of these meetings.

You may find this document useful to share with your TA to support them in developing student independence.

Screenshot 2024-05-23 at 16.30.39.png

Reflection and Discussion

Take some time to think about how you currently work with your TA.

Do you meet with them to inform them of the planning for the week/day?

Do you set clear expectations of what you need the TA to do within each lesson?

Does your TA feedback to you with regards to student progress and next steps?

Does your TA have maximum impact on learning?

Do you regularly feedback to your TA offering areas of strength and areas for development?

How can you embed the features of the EEF?

References

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