Monday, September 26, 2016

Beginning My Journey with ISTAA Experienced Teacher Accreditation

Due to my recent school move, I've found myself in a position of having to go through accreditation to demonstrate my level of teaching. In NSW/ACT Independent schools, this means applying for Experienced Teacher Accreditation with ISTAA (the Independent Schools Teacher Accreditation Authority). I'm not sure of all the logistics, or whether this is a requirement in all independent schools, however it is required in order to move up the pay scale in my school.

So, I applied and am now on the Experienced Teacher Accreditation journey. As you might imagine, this journey is mostly about capturing evidence of what is happening in the classroom in order to prove that I am demonstrating the descriptors of an Experienced Teacher. To make matters even more complicated, I have chosen the Action Research Pathway, which involves choosing an action research project, doing a literature review, putting forward a proposal, collecting data relating to the action research project, and reporting findings.

So far I have mostly been trying to get my head around what is required, and testing out a few ideas I could use as my action research. The biggest challenge I am finding so far is selecting an action research project that is simple enough to be achievable, yet broad enough to encompass a number of descriptors I need to demonstrate.

Areas of Interest

My plan at the moment is to focus on the use of formative assessment and feedback to enhance student learning. I have some examples of this in the classroom, but would like to improve the way my assessments are recorded so that I can analyse for patterns. I'd also like to improve the quality of the feedback that I provide, to make it more explicit and to ensure that students are able to use it to improve the next time they face something similar. This also means providing opportunities for students to make the adjustments and try again before too much time has passed. I'm also interested to see how students can reflect on their learning more effectively.

I'd also like to explore where parents fit into all of this. Is there a way to provide better feedback to parents along the way so that they can be addressing issues when they are relevant, rather than waiting until reports? Do parents want to be part of the learning process, or would they prefer it all to be done in-house?


Documentation forms a large part of the experienced teacher accreditation. Teachers need to be able to demonstrate in physical form a lot of the things that usually just take place in the day to day teaching environment, or sometimes within the teacher's head. Teachers make observations on how students are managing content and make adaptations in response to these observations. This is all unseen or at least unwritten. For the purposes of the accreditation, these things need to become seen and written.

In an attempt to do this, I've taken on using some tools a little more intentionally. Key tools so far are: Notes linked through iCloud, Notability and iDoceo.

I've begun recording my thoughts and actions in Notes on my phone/iPad/computer, similar to a diary. This is helping me to record those things that are happening during the day that may slip from my mind as time goes by. I'm finding it is also really helpful for organising my thoughts. I can add pictures that help demonstrate things, or photos of weird diagrams I draw on paper in attempt to make sense of the confusion!

I'm using Notability so that I can annotate the descriptors and highlight with a range of colours. I may also use it for annotating readings as I do my literature review.

iDoceo is a tool for managing assessments etc for your class. I am using it to help me with recording assessment and I am particularly liking the new rubric feature. I'm able to quickly make and use rubrics, collating the data at the same time. I decided to make a "class" for myself as well, with columns for all of the descriptors. I can now collect evidence and jot down ideas as annotations for all of the descriptors, and therefore track how I am progressing.

Moving Forward

As I continue with this journey I need to get serious about reading up on feedback and formative assessment. A few names that come to mind are John Hattie, Dylan Wiliam, and Dan Haesler. In looking quickly at Dan's website, he doesn't specifically mention "formative assessment and feedback" but from working with him at my previous school, I know that it is part of his repertoire. Perhaps the focus of my action research should be "growth mindsets" of which formative assessment and feedback are a large part. That gives more direction to what I am considering and provides a stronger starting point. That leads to the work by Carol Dweck, which will keep me busy for a while!

What suggestions do you have? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section.


  1. Hi penny- dylan's most recent publication is definitely worth a read? Also cult of pedagogy here on twitter has some interesting ideas on feedback provison. Good luck!

  2. Thanks Alison. Will check those out. Really appreciate the help.


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