EDUCATOR DEVELOPMENT: EDUCATION TRANSFORMATION AND TURNAROUND STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT


THSBS, an Education and Training Provider which has been in operation for some twenty years, has always been committed to supporting the South African Government strategies to transform Education to improve student / learner achievement.

THSBS supports the Educator Development strategies managed and co-ordinated by SACE for Schools.

THSBS also subscribes to the VEOP (Vocational Educator Orientation Programme) for FET Colleges, which is likely to be made law in April 2010.

THSBS has researched approaches adopted by other countries to Education Transformation and Turnaround. In particular, THSBS has discussed approaches adopted by The College of Education at Georgia State University; Mosaica Education in the United Arab Emirates and Educators from New Zealand, Australia, Dubai and America.

Patricia Armstrong, an experienced Educator presently coaching Educators in Dubai and with experience in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, supports a Mentoring and Coaching approach to Educator Development which, she says, must operate within an enabling learning environment if it is to be successful.

“My function as an Educator Coach here in Dubai” says Patricia Armstrong “is to meet various key performance indicators that are used to measure the success or failure of this scheme”.

Patricia Armstrong says that Mosaica Education, an American based company which has 80 schools in America and a growing number of schools in the United Arab Emirates, offers creative solutions which could be considered for South Africa. In America, Patricia says, ‘failing’ schools are being identified and Providers are being placed in them to staff and manage every aspect of the School and to ensure that ‘no child gets left behind’. These schools are known as “Charter Schools”.

In the UAE (United Arab Emirates), Patricia Armstrong says, a similar approach is being used but the key objective is to increase the number of Emirate students going to university from 3% to 17%. This is being addressed by focusing on developing English skills partly because the main / prestigious universities are British and American. The main aim, Patricia Armstrong says, is to ensure that Emirate students are biligual by 2020 and to have 17% of schoolleavers entering university.

In America, says THSBS’s Director Don Leffler, universities and schools collaborate to develop professional Educators.

He said The College of Education at Georgia State University in America advocates collaborative partnerships between universities, colleges and schools provided by Professional Development Schools (PDSs).

PDS’s are partnerships that offer opportunities for Georgia State University and pre K-12 schools to join together to foster the evolution of unique sites where school and university have the shared goal of enhancing the education of professionals through a serious commitment to collaboration.

The Professional Development School Network has as its mission “to prepare new teachers and other educators, support professional development, support inquiry directed at the improvement of professional practice, and improve student learning”. (View at http://pds2.gsu.edu)

THSBS’s Director, Don Leffler, recommends that South Africa should consider successful practices being adopted by other developing countries, including Dubai and the UAE, to manage the following key issues in South Africa:

1. the shortage of properly qualified Teachers and FET College Lecturers
2. the
shortage of properly experienced Teachers and FET College Lecturers
3. the
poor results of Learners in Schools and FET Colleges
4. the need for quality standards aimed at improving the performance of Teachers and FET College Lecturers

THSBS’s Don Leffler believes that the above “needs” can be satisfied by a multi-pronged approach to the application and implementation of the SACE and Departments of Education strategies and Policies.

He suggests that we all should follow the following approach:

To support and accept the role of the SA Council of Education (SACE). which is guided by the Departments of Basic Education and of Higher Education, to formulate and implement Strategy and Policy on Educator Development for both Schools and, potentially, FET Colleges.

To recommend a fundamental and strategic revision of the existing Educator Development approach for Schools – and to introduce this for FET Colleges – to include:

1. A Monitoring, Mentoring and Coaching Programme for Educators similar to that offered by Mosaica Education and other similar Service Providers in different countries.

This could be run as a Public Private Partnership with standards set by SACE.

A pre-approved Service Provider, registered with SACE, will make available a pool of professional Educators, skilled in different Subjects, from South Africa and other countries whose tasks will be to:

evaluate the skills of existing South African Teachers and Lecturers (i.e. a skills audit)
identify skills gaps (e.g. gaps in Teaching Skills and Methodology; Curriculum knowledge; Subject knowledge; Assessment practices; Managing “barriers” to Learning (cultural; social; economic; disabilities; discipline; etc.)
coach the Educator to eliminate the skills gaps and become a more effective Educator
mentor the Educator to effectively manage classroom dynamics and to become a more effective Educator
recommend further education and training programmes for the Educator (i.e. a personal Development Programme)
monitor and manage the performance of the Educator (i.e. performance management principles and application)

2. the development of a range of minimum competencies required by an Educator (i.e. a competency matrix for Educators)

3. the development of a range of preferred Qualifications which will become the minimum standards to qualify and be employed as an Educator

4. the development of a range of Skills Programmes and Short Courses to eliminate identified skills gaps (e.g. Managing Discipline in the Classroom; Subject Content gaps; Soft Skills such as Communication Skills (e.g. language usage; enunciation; pronunciation; etc.)

5. the development of regular Reports and Feedback to Educators on their performance (Recognition and Reward principles)

THSBS’S Don Leffler says that THSBS would like to encourage widespread debate on new approaches to applying and implementing existing Government Education Strategies and Policies.

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