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17 May Pivot’s Dr Bronwyn Hinz Features in the Daily Telegraph

Originally published in the Daily Telegraph:

It’s the biggest shake-up of teacher-training ever, but too many new teachers are still flying blind and set up to fail.

Education boffins, policy makers and teacher-trainers from around Australia met today in Sydney at Implementing the Teacher Education Reforms event to discuss the progress of major reforms to improve the quality of teacher candidates, teacher-training courses and new teacher induction.

I’d say that the reforms are long overdue, but this is a battle-weary and reformed-out sector. What else do you expect when you have 102 back-to-back reviews of teacher education, apart from further demoralisation and exhaustion of teachers and teacher-trainers?

The reasons for the reforms and reviews are familiar. Too many students graduate from teaching courses only to find they are not properly prepared for the challenges and complexities of the job. So brutal is the situation that up to 50 per cent of them quit within five years.

And that’s if they even get a teaching job in the first place, with only about half of graduates securing full-time teaching work.

What a waste of time and money.

We all know about Australia’s lacklustre schooling results. Performance in most assessed areas have been stagnant or falling for over 15 years. We have more stragglers and fewer high-achievers in our schools than ever before.

This dire situation won’t turn around without well-trained, well-supported, highly valued teachers in every classroom.

That’s why it’s worth talking about these newest and biggest reforms, described as both a game-changer and a paradigm shift.

For the first time in Australia, teacher-training courses are required to have common evidence requirements.

And for the first time, both graduates and courses will have to demonstrate their impact through teaching performance ­assessments.

There will also be a workforce planning and matching component, to get the subject expertise to where the biggest shortages exist.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

But as good as this all sounds, there’s a gaping hole. It’s up to each institution to develop its own impact assessments. This means wide variation in interpretation, rigour and standards.

A big missing piece of information is feedback from actual students on each teacher’s practice.

Timely, fine-grain and comparable data, linked to the national standards for teaching, can help identify each teacher’s strengths and weaknesses. This gives teachers things to celebrate and motivate, and concrete information on what needs most attention and support.

Pivot’s survey and resources are now being used in 50,000 classrooms around Australia, from Sydney suburbs to the remote Northern Territory.

It also tells their trainers the things they need to be focusing on, so all of our new teachers are classroom-ready when they graduate.

An edu-tech start-up set up by Aussie teachers, policy experts and researchers fed up with these gaps has developed such a survey using the best international evidence, and adapted it for Australian schools.

Pivot’s survey and resources are now being used in 50,000 classrooms around Australia, from Sydney suburbs to the remote Northern Territory.

Teachers love the insights it provides. They help them play to their strengths, and share the practices ­behind these strengths with other teachers.

Their results are confidential to them, so they know the results can only be used constructively and not punitively. It also helps pinpoint what isn’t working and ways to fix it. In one teacher’s words, “it’s helpful, because what you think you are best at, or doing, is not necessarily the students’ experience”.

Principals love it because they have clearer view of the biggest strengths and professional developments needs of their school — by teaching area and year level.

And students like it because they are being heard, and can see their feedback is transforming teaching for the better.

Bringing effective, evidence-based tools such as this from schools into teacher-training courses could make a big difference in understanding and enhancing teacher impact, allowing teachers and teacher-trainers around Australia to understand what is and isn’t working well.

Without it, teachers are flying blind on some of most important aspects of their job. And the job is too important to let them and their students down.

Gonski 2.0 urged governments and schools to put students at the centre and support teachers with the time and tools needed to do the job.

Let’s get it done, now.

Bronwyn Hinz is director of research and development at Pivot Professional Learning.

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05 May Pivot in focus at Scotch College, Adelaide

post-scotchWe were thrilled to be profiled by the Principal of Scotch College, Adelaide, in his Term 2 communication to the school community. Pivot has been working with Scotch for three years and the Pivot approach is now deeply embedded within the school’s teaching and learning framework, providing real insights and metrics for teachers and school leaders, and a powerful avenue for student voice.
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20 Mar Pivot named as a ‘best idea’ in education, PWC

post-pwcPivot was profiled in PWC’s leading paper on steps to advance meaningful education reform in Australia, as an example of a ‘best idea’ that has been proven to help boost teaching effectiveness and should be rolled out more broadly. Pivot’s Director Belinda Harries was invited to present to the Sydney launch of the PWC paper, and join a panel discussion on education reform with former Scottish First Minister Lord Jack McConnell and former. Innovation adviser to President Obama, Chris Vein.
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07 Sep Pivot named a “Startup Star”: The Weekly Review, 2016

Pivot Professional Learning is profiled in The Weekly Review as a ‘Startup Star’ on the rise. Cleo Westhorpe, Belinda Harries and Caitlin Macleod speak about their professional development tool designed to “prove” the current performance of teachers and “improve” their effectiveness in the classroom. The powerful platform has now surveyed well over 5000 classrooms Australia-wide.

Read more about The Weekly Review’s Startup Star here

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02 Jul Pivot partners with the Australian Association of Maths Teachers

Aamt-logo-wbg-300pxWe’re excited to announce a new partnership with the Australian Association of Maths Teachers to help maths teachers and faculties to better understand their impact in the classroom. If you’re a maths teacher looking to prove and improve your teaching effectiveness, please register your interest here for a place in our nation-wide trial in 2016:

Head to the AAMT website for more information

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27 May Pivot awarded a Top 50 in the Anthill Smart100

Smart_100_Tat_CapitalThey’re innovative, Australian, highly commercial and they’re changing the world, one idea at a time. Pivot Professional Learning was proud to be among the Anthill Smart 100 in 2015 for developing and building a powerful online professional learning tool that allows teachers to reflect upon and improve their instructional practice, allowing them to achieve better outcomes for the most important person in the equation: the student.

Read more about Pivot’s Top 50 placing here

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