As I have been driving around during our summer school holidays, I have been interested to see the signs outside schools.

Some are really clever and some are just giving information. It makes me wonder who decides what will be put up and what type of person they are. It’s interesting to think about what the underlying message might indicate about the school.

  • Some have phone numbers telling you who to contact if there seems to be some problem with the school buildings.
  • Others tell you the date the teachers will return and when the students return.
  • Others give you a little cheery thought to send you on your way.
  • Some boast of their successful students.
  • Some are wishing farewell to teachers or students who are moving on.

But there has been a sign I have seen outside a few schools that has intrigued me more than the others, telling everyone that “Quality teaching resumes here on 30 January”. When compared to the other signs, it’s as if the only place to go for “quality teaching” is to these few schools. We might question just what goes on elsewhere.

So what is Quality Teaching? The NSW Department of Education quality teaching model is focused on pedagogy and has identified three dimensions that contribute to improving student outcomes – intellectual quality; a quality learning environment; and, significance. You might like to read up more about it on the DET website.

But quality teaching as described in the quality teaching model isn’t restricted to public schools. (This link takes you to a Youtube Video by Ken Robinson, which is really thought provoking.) Having worked in both public and independent schools, I have found a commitment to the above three dimensions by many teachers. Those teachers who work at developing their programs to include the three dimensions have great and exciting classrooms to be in.

Students are the focus of quality teaching, rather than the content being the focus. Quality teachers get to know their students well. They know the syllabus well and adapt to suit the needs of the individuals in their classes. A quality teaching program will not be the same year after year, it goes beyond the “basics” to stretch students to achieve beyond what is expected and to encourage them to think for themselves.

Here we are at the start of a new school year. Do you think the call that we hear from many about going “back to basics” is in conflict with the philosophy underlying the concept of quality teaching?

Is this going to be a new beginning for you?

If you are going to try something different this year to stretch yourself and your students can you share with us? I would love to know and encourage you in your endeavour.