Teacher Education and Student Learning

by Mr. Hugh Burke

 The most critical relationship in school is between the child and the teacher.

The headlines in the Sun yesterday were about teachers in Vancouver who had planned a professional development day which included Ping-Pong, hay rides, playing guitar, and on and on.

In this context, parents may feel a bit puzzled as to the realities of teacher education and development. The B.C. Public School Employers’ Association have addressed such situations in a document that states desirable practices, which includes:

  • Professional teaching standards that are second to none.
  • A disciplinary system worthy of the public’s trust.
  • Fully qualified, highly competent teachers who are well suited to the profession.
  • The right teachers in the right positions.
  • The ability for school districts to make human resource decisions that are effective and efficient.
  • Regular performance feedback for every teacher and support for improvement.
  • An effective evaluation process to help good teachers become great and under-performing teachers become good. It should also identify those unsuited to the profession.

We want to align professional development with teacher performance evaluations and school district policy requirements,” the document says. “We want to ensure that professional development days and investments are suited to the needs of districts and individual teachers.”

Every parent knows that the most critical relationship in school is between their child and their teacher. If we want to really prepare our children for the future, then, we need teachers who are also committed to that idea, teachers who continually learn, continually grow, and continually seek opportunities to collaborate with other teachers.

At this time, our school exceeds the standards and expectations that are being sought by our public school employers. We provide a host of professional development opportunities, including:

  • Well-planned Professional Development days that ensure collaborative planning time and outcomes.
  • Staffing decisions based on the needs of students.
  • Additional accreditation for our teachers (and we pay for it).
  • Directors of Learning who work continuously with teachers for improvement of instruction.
  • Some early release time so that many teachers can get to graduate classes in Education.

Currently, we have about eleven teachers pursuing graduate studies, and many have already completed Master’s degrees. We have a number of teachers who are workshop presenters for the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), and also some who work on accreditation teams for the Ministry, CAIS, and the IBO. Several have been, or continue to be, sessional instructors at SFU in Education. This year, the Directors of Learning will be working with the Head to ensure that our teacher performance evaluations are harnessing best practice in ensuring teacher development as part of teacher evaluation.

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 Our teacher development supports our students to live up to the IB Learner Profile.

More than all of that, we constantly strive to live up to the IB Learner Profile to which we hold our students accountable. The IB Learner Profile calls on us all to be:

  • Inquirers
  • Caring
  • Knowledgeable
  • Risk-takers
  • Thinkers
  •  Balanced
  • Communicators
  • Reflective
  • Principled
  • Open-minded

And if that is what we want for our children, then we all need to be models of these characteristics. After all, children learn what they live, not what they are told.