Home' Teacher : July 2010 Contents 14 TEACHER JUNE/JULY 2010
integrated ser vices be co-located, espe-
cially in low SES areas, and
governments commit to significant
investment to fund, evaluate and modify
After a slow start and decades of talk,
the pieces of the puzzle are now coming
together quite quickly. Some are already
in place. Others present challenges but will
What is a high-quality educator?
High-quality educators are informed, criti-
cal consumers of educational research,
seeking out what I call the 'three R's' of
educational research -- research that is rel-
evant, rigorous and readable -- because that's
the research that can find acceptance and
make a difference. Too much of educational
research fails the three R's test.
High-quality educators question the evi-
dence base for what they do and for any
alternative method or innovation they and
their colleagues might consider: they 'read
the labels.' They're also aware of the false
dichotomies that plague education. We've
all been told that the best classrooms are
teacher directed. We've also been told that
the best classrooms are student centred. The
truth is that the best classrooms are teacher
directed and student centred.
Since we work in an age of evidence,
high-quality educators gather and use
data in sophisticated ways. At the moment
there's something of a fixation with NAP-
LAN and My School, but we need broader
evidence to guide our practice. The Mel-
bourne Declaration of 2008 articulates
two important goals for education in
Australia: to promote equity and excel-
lence; and to ensure all young Austral-
ians become successful learners, confident
and creative individuals, and active and
informed citizens. These goals serve as
a very useful framework for the sorts of
evidence we need to gather to assess ou r
students and to guide our teaching and
High-quality educators focus on every
student as a learner and a person, and
because of that they're very important to
My ow n research with successful teach-
ers and schools in a range of countries
shows that the best teachers and schools
are continually striving to be better. Maybe
that's why they're successful.
High-quality educators are not un rea-
sonably defensive. As a teacher at a turn-
around school where I had been conduct-
ing research put it, 'In this school we make
plans now, not excuses.'
High-quality educators are aware of the
values and principles that underpin their
professional practice and are prepared to
stand up for these, but are also prepared
to change their mind when faced with con-
vincing evidence, to paraphrase the great
economist JM Keynes.
The biggest equity issue in Austral-
ian education today isn't computers, new
buildings or equipment. It's each student
having quality teachers and quality teach-
ing in schools supported by effective leader-
ship and professional learning in mutually
respectful local community contexts.
I know life isn't fair, but I also know this:
good teaching and good schools are the best
means we have of overcoming disadvantage
and opening the doors of opportunity for
the young people of Australia.
Professor Stephen Dinham is Research
Director of the Teaching, Learning and
Leadership research program at the
Australian Council for Educ ation al
Research. His latest book is How to Get
Your School Moving and Improving, pub-
lished by ACER Press.
This is an edited version of his occasion al
address at the Faculty of Education
Graduation Cere mony at the Unive rsity
of Southe rn Queensland in May.
Dinham, S. , Ingvarson, L . & Kleinhenz,
E . (2008). Teaching Talent: The best
teachers for Australia's classrooms.
Melbourne: Business Council of Australia .
Good teaching and
good schools are
the best means we
have of overcoming
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