“Supporting teachers in developing articulated, sustainable programs”
Experience in a range of schools and sectors, facilitation of syllabus implementation and leadership of teacher professional learning programs have demonstrated clearly that most Languages teachers work in relative isolation. Often itinerant, both within and between schools; often misunderstood and somewhat ostracised in schools, especially when itinerant; all too often viewed only as “the non-contact time person” – these teachers need particular support if they are to be retained and guided to develop sustainable programs.
For Australian-born Languages teachers of English speaking backgrounds , the development of sufficient proficiency in another language to be able to teach it is hard work. Maintaining that proficiency is an ongoing challenge. Native speakers of another language have to work very hard to adapt to the Australian teaching context. They, too, need ongoing support in this. Many years of practical experience supporting teachers through local, regional and language specific networks, and ongoing mentoring formalised through participation in an AGQTP Mentoring Project in 2006/7, have shown that timely mentoring can “save” some teachers and enliven, hearten and professionally enrich many others. We will work with Languages teachers in context-responsive ways, in schools, clusters or regions, to show them how to plan for engagement, rigour and articulation. What may start as face-to-face mentoring may continue through virtual teaming to build capacity in developing sustainable programs. This can occur at all levels of education, and in all sectors.
Facilitation of moderation
We show teachers how to moderate student work based on rubrics which reflect the Assessable Elements of the QSA Essential Learnings for Languages. Depending on context, this can involve seminars, workshops or school/cluster sessions. These are underpinned by a strong working knowledge of effective assessment derived from:
Development of effective Languages clusters
The early 1990’s saw the inception of the Primary LOTE Programme, and the formation of “LOTE clusters”, timetabled together for LOTE delivery purposes. Depending on the keenness of the LOTE coordinator and cluster Principals, meetings were occasionally held to discuss articulation and timetabling issues, but serious articulation of programs rarely occurred. Now, in the NALSSP and national curriculum era, the onus is on clusters to ensure that they develop quality, articulated programs which recognise learner background and ensure that all students are challenged at their level as they move through stages of education. This involves Primary/Middle/Secondary school articulation, and articulation into tertiary institutions, often via accelerated programs.
From her involvement as a LOTE Subject Area Coordinator in the early 1990s, through designing Year 4-12 articulated , differentiated programs, to many years helping Senior students articulate meaningfully into university studies, Cynthia Dodd been involved with developing ways of harnessing, rather than stymieing, student capacity.
Enhancing Asia literacy across within and across schools
Envisioning, then clearly articulating, plans for Asia literacy in schools is essential. Rather than tokenistic statements, aspiring schools and clusters need a clear vision of their proposed program in order to enunciate how they plan to make it really add value over time to their students’ linguistic and intercultural capacity. Cynthia’s years of engagement with Asia and depth of experience in international tourism design, in teaching rigorous Japanese programs, in hosting, designing and leading exchange programs with sister schools and, thereby, in developing interculturally literate students, is overlaid with extensive knowledge of the Languages area at state, national and international level to inform her role as an Asia Literacy Ambassador and her advice to schools.
Developing capacity through networking
Networking in Languages can take many forms, ranging from peer to peer mentoring and support, to an ongoing cluster professional learning process, to engaging with local communities as sources of Languages learning in their schools, to connecting with chambers of commerce or businesses for real world experience, to collaborations with universities to accelerate students, to forming virtual networks for students to interface with native speaker peers, for teachers to enhance linguistic capacity. With the expert guidance we offer, all can develop significant and sustainable capacity.