The New South Wales (NSW) Government in Australia has introduced a new initiative, Quality Teaching, Successful Students, which commenced in 2015 injecting $224 million into NSW schools. This program allows experienced teachers to mentor and guide other teachers, demonstrating effective teaching strategies and analysing data to find areas of need within schools. The initiative has come about following a recent three-year survey of 6000 NSW public (state) school teachers, which found that collaborating with colleagues was the most significant professional learning practice for primary teachers.
Trust is foundational to any relationship, allowing people to be themselves and to be open to connecting to others in a true and meaningful way.
In recent years the Education Department has placed greater focus on curriculum, outcomes and assessment, which has increased the workload of teachers. In many schools, teachers are working in isolation, putting in long hours of overtime and working on weekends and through the holidays to get through their ‘to do’ list.
Working under these conditions has seen a breakdown of natural social interactions in the work environment. The pressure on school leaders to ensure the performance of their teachers and students has given rise to a work environment that makes teachers feel that they are individually not doing enough.
The foundation of a true quality education is found in the quality of relationships between teacher and student, teacher and teacher and teachers and school leaders.
Quality relationships are built on trust and appreciation. Observing children at play we are able to see that this is an innate quality they have.
Perhaps teachers and leaders can take a leaf from the book of childhood; renew their trust in themselves and their colleagues and appreciate the value of working collaboratively.