Flipping the System, Part Four

I’m continuing to read (and enjoy) the Australian Flip the System book. The fourth chapter is by Cameron Malcher, who I’ve followed on Twitter for a while. Cameron, along with Corinne Campbell, has been the host of the Teachers’ Education Review (TER) Podcast for a number of years. I must confess that I have only listened to a few episodes, but that’s more due to a lack of time than a lack of desire. Certainly, everyone I know speaks highly of the podcast.

In this chapter, Cameron sets out the case for podcasts as a mechanism for promoting teacher voice in Australia. Not surprisingly, this is something that really intrigues and interests me – and it fits well with the other chapters of the book that I have read thus far, because it focuses on raising the voices of teachers within the educational context after other chapters have identified the ways that teachers’ voices have been excluded.

For this exploration, Cameron takes the change to teaching in NSW that required all teachers to maintain a certain level of professional development hours over the course of their career – i.e. teachers must do 100 hours of professional development every 5 years. This is not an insignificant amount, and it is made more complex by the fact that at least 50% of this quota must be registered hours; that is, hours that have the seal of approval from NESA in the form of a registered provider.

Cameron quite rightly identifies the sudden growth in professional learning (PL) opportunities from registered providers, and also the concern from teachers about the quality of some of this provision. These are concerns and queries that I’ve heard myself, too, from teachers. He also is quick to point out the uneven nature of this provision; that is, teachers in rural or remote settings are much less likely to have access to the same level or quality of provision as their colleagues within metropolitan settings.

Cameron posits that the TER podcast is, in part, an antidote to this. The initial plan was to ‘build a platform that elevated teachers’ voices and practice and provided teachers’ perspectives on topical issues in education.’ From its starting point in 2013, the TER podcast has now become a voice of authority (my words) in the educational landscape, where teachers can listen to discussions about issues that effect them at a micro and macroscopic level. They can do this without being concerned about the vested interests at play, and they can do it for free.

More importantly, at least from my perspective, the TER podcast is hosted by teachers; I’m not saying that everything involving education has to be the sole responsibility of teachers. However, I do think that we need to hear more from teachers – they should be one of the first groups consulted – or, even better, they should be the ones developing policy, in consultation with other stakeholders. The TER podcast is a starting point in achieving that goal.

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