Why did you decide you wanted to try and be an assessor?
Being a beginning teacher mentor and already having an understanding of the Australian Standards when the opportunity of being part of a pilot to establish the certification process for the Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers classification it was one that I wanted to be part of. What a wonderful opportunity to be part of a project to reward teachers for their classroom practice, knowledge and skills and stay in the classroom teaching. In becoming an assessor I also felt that I would be able to benefit my school and region through knowledge gained. The thought of being involved in an initiative from the start and to work on the pilot was a fantastic opportunity.
What does it entail?
Becoming an assessor entailed completing the National Assessor training course which consisted of face to face workshops and roughly 50 hours of online workshops and assessments. Participating in the face to face workshops introduced the process and the enormity of the role of being an assessor. Once you have been successful in obtaining the certification of a National Assessor you then are able to start assessing folios. When you have the applicant’s collection of evidence you then examine the folio thoroughly, making judgements against the seven standards.
After making your judgement you then confer with a co-assessor who has also reviewed the folio. Together you make an on balance judgement. If successful at Stage 1, the applicant will proceed to stage 2. This is where one of the assessors do a site visit and observe the applicant demonstrating the evidence. The assessor then also has discussions with the applicant, principal and other colleagues. After the site visit the assessor then discusses the outcome with the co-assessor and from there if the applicant is successful in demonstrating on balance all seven standards a recommendation is made to the Queensland College of teachers, the certifying authority.
What was it like and how many hours did it take?
It is has been the best professional development that I have participated in in the last 5 years. It has been a very rewarding experience. Not one folio has been presented in the same way. Through viewing the various folios it has reiterated the great practice that is happening in our classrooms throughout Queensland schools. It is difficult to say specifically how many hours each folio takes but rest assured that the applications are assessed thoroughly, the process is authentic, robust and consistent.
What did you enjoy the most about it?
I enjoyed visiting the teachers and seeing quality practice in the classrooms. Their passion for the profession shone through and the engagement of students was inspiring. Being part of the project team working with DET and QCT personnel was also an experience that not many teachers get to be part of. It was very special to be part of the initial pilot and actually understand the enormity of the process. To us in the classroom we are out of touch of how much behind the scenes work needs to be done before we get to implement a new initiative.
What was challenging about it?
The time needed to undertake the National Assessor Training was challenging at times as I did the training during classroom assessment and reporting period. The ability to pick up a folio and adapt to the different layouts was challenging at first, however, the more folios you assessed the easier it became.
What have you gained from the role professionally?
I have a far better understanding of the Australian Standards for Teachers, my own classroom practice has been sharpened because of this. The ability to write reports for applicants in quite a different style to what I am use to writing for report cards.
What is your advice to others who are thinking about doing it?
Do It! The hard work and knowledge gained will help you in all aspects of your teaching and if in an administration position the knowledge of the Standards will benefit your staff.