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Engaging with the profession : communities of learners
English in Australia (2007)
  • Marion Meiers, ACER
In 2005 the Australian Literacy Educators' Association (ALEA) established a professional learning project focused on the STELLA professional standards developed earlier in the decade by the Australian Association for the Teaching of English (AATE) and ALEA. The key question for the project was: How does STELLA provide a framework for teachers' professional learning? The project supported a small group of primary teachers in each of three states and territories: Western Australia, South Australia and the ACT. These groups worked with a mentor to explore the STELLA professional standards, to develop their own professional learning, and ultimately, to share their stories with other professionals. The project strongly reflected the professional engagement that is acknowledged as an important characteristic of accomplished English/literacy teaching, and which, together with professional knowledge and professional practice, is one of the three organising categories for the STELLA core statements. The ALEA STELLA project in 2005 was designed on a strong professional learning model. The design featured teachers' ongoing work with an experienced mentor; their participation in a collaborative group of teachers; classroom-based research; and the use of the STELLA standards as a framework for professional learning. It also reflected the standards statement relating to professional engagement: demonstrating commitment, continuing to learn, and being active members of the professional and wider community. The strong learning focus of the project was emphasized by the reference to the participants as 'scholars'. The scholars' learning journeys commenced when they identified an aspect of their current practice to investigate and link to one or more of the STELLA standards. The teachers carried out these investigations in the context of their own ongoing professional work in classrooms, or, in a few cases, in advisory roles where they worked alongside teachers. There was a strong reflective element in the project, as the teachers talked with the mentors and their colleagues, and as they documented the impact on their professional learning and teaching practice. At the end of the project a collection of the rich and reflective accounts of these investigations was published in Teachers' stories; professional standards, professional learning (ALEA, 2006). These stories add to the bank of stories that have been developed over a number of years as the STELLA Narratives. Embedded in these stories are powerful insights into the nature of professional learning, and the importance of professional learning communities.
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Citation Information
Marion Meiers. "Engaging with the profession : communities of learners" English in Australia Vol. 42 Iss. 3 (2007)
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