We recognise that the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) will affect teachers and early childhood teachers in different ways. During COVID-19, the inquiry process will remain unchanged, as it reflects good teaching practice and its principles are still applicable in an online teaching environment. The nature of the teaching (delivered online or via another distance education method), evidence gathering process, and process of presenting to a workplace panel may vary dependent on a teacher’s circumstances.
Data that was previously needed to describe the learning environment, learners and the teaching and learning occurring is still valid and important, but may need to be described in light of a new context (online or remote learning). Unless it is explicitly stated, there is no change to the formal requirements for the inquiry, even if they are completed or evidenced differently.
See a rundown of the 5 stages of the inquiry process during COVID-19 below.
Stage 1 – Establish content and context for learning
- a description of the class or group’s context is still important as they are still part of the inquiry - teachers should be mindful of the fact that learners are, in most cases, not physically with each other
- a description of the learner’s context may now include a description of their new learning environment, including information relating to the learner’s access to and use of any required technologies
- catering for a learner with disability is still required - adjustments should reflect the new teaching method
- catering for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander learner is still required - adjustments should reflect the new teaching method
- the inquiry and its learning outcomes should still be based on the needs of the learners
- any changes to a pre-existing inquiry should be noted - this can be annotations in the action plan and needn’t be a complete re-write
- is it a live streamed lesson, pre-recorded or another method, are there opportunities for learners to comment or ask questions, how have the learning objectives been modified to accommodate this new teaching and learning environment?
- what modifications have been made to learning activities to make them accessible online?
- what modifications have been made to teaching strategies to make them more effective online?
Stage 2 – Define question for inquiry and undertake professional learning
- inquiry questions should still be achievable and based on the learners’ needs
- VIT has a SMART tool to help provisionally registered teachers (PRTs) test their inquiry question.
- PRTs should also discuss their question with their mentor (what resources are required, how will assessments be done?).
- PRTs are still required to undertake the professional learning necessary to complete their inquiry
- professional conversations can be conducted in whatever way the mentor and PRT are both comfortable with (e.g. video conference, phone, email)
- professional observations can be conducted in whatever way the mentor and PRT are both comfortable with (e.g. video, pre-recorded lessons) and still need to be accompanied by conversations to discuss what was observed.
Child safety and wellbeing / maintaining appropriate professional relationships
- PRTs will need to describe how the duties in this area have changed and how they and / or their workplace have accommodated for this
- documentation of one professional conversation with a mentor discussing their legal obligations as a teacher and how they maintain appropriate professional relationships is still required
- maintaining professional relationships now might mention steps taken to establish and maintain these professional boundaries between learners and teachers in an online setting
- PRTs should be aware of approved school or service methods of communicating with learners and their families.
Stage 3 – Apply knowledge to teaching practice through action plan
- the action plan (e.g. resources, activities, strategies, assessments, safety and wellbeing considerations, learning outcomes, factors affecting learning and any other relevant considerations) will now focus on the online learning environment - teachers will need to consider the opportunities and limitations of the new teaching and learning environment
- any inquiry that was planned or begun prior to the shift online will need to be modified to reflect the current situation
- teachers should still allow for as many assessment types and opportunities as possible (formative, summative, formal, anecdotal etc.)
- all materials collected and planning materials used should still be the authentic learning documents
- language used to describe the teaching and learning process may change in line with the new teaching context [e.g. describing a lesson as synchronous or asynchronous depending on whether it was delivered in real time or not (live or pre-recorded)].
Stage 4 – Implement action plan
- VIT generally recommends that the inquiry is completed over 4 – 6 weeks
- PRTs must still be observed at least 3 times by a mentor or experienced colleague - they will need to discuss with a mentor how this observation and follow up conversation will happen.
Gathering other evidence
- not all descriptors of the standards may be demonstrated in your inquiry
- you may need to demonstrate some descriptors outside of the inquiry - this may include evidence from previous teaching experience as a registered teacher with your current group or a different group of learners
- your mentor / experienced colleague may have witnessed actions or practices you used that could evidence a standard or descriptor - where descriptors have not been evidenced in the documentation of your inquiry into practice, this additional evidence can be used
- this section may be completed by you or your mentor / experienced colleague where you wish to provide additional evidence - specific details of your actions or behaviour need to be documented
- all 37 descriptors of the APST must still be evidenced - most will still naturally occur during the program of teaching and learning
- PRTs should discuss with colleagues any difficulties they are having gathering evidence for a descriptor
- action plans and teaching may need to be more flexible than usual.
Stage 5 – Evaluate effectiveness of practice: assess and reflect
- the process of reflection will not change, but PRTs may need to consider how to display, share or annotate learner work samples as part of their evidence.
- PRTs unable to complete the requirements of the Inquiry before their expiry date due to the current circumstances of COVID-19 should submit an application for a new period of provisional registration 3 months prior to the date of their current provisional expiry.
- teachers should be mindful that the inquiry is only a reflection of the teaching they are doing and not everything will be successful - as circumstances change, it is normal that some things won’t work as planned, and these moments should be reflected on as part of a teacher's practice
- CRTs or teachers in non-traditional settings (museum, zoo, hospital) may need to consider postponing their inquiry, and should contact VIT if they worried about their registration
- the workplace recommendation panel will retain the same structure (even though it will operate remotely) - any variations will need approval from VIT
- VIT has templates and checklists available that will assist PRTs gathering and recording information for their inquiry - using these resources is not mandatory but is a good way to ensure no parts of the inquiry are missed.
Observation of practice during COVID-19
Observation of teacher practice is a key component of the inquiry process and must be completed in order to demonstrate all 37 descriptors of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST) at the proficient level.
VIT understands that teaching in a virtual environment may offer some unique challenges, particularly in demonstrating explicit practice.
The inquiry process can be completed during this time of virtual learning. This new environment is a valid teaching context and so days of teaching virtually are counted in the number of teaching days (80) prior to application for (full) registration.
Teachers will need to work with mentors and workplaces to decide whether their current circumstances will allow them to thoroughly demonstrate proficiency in all 37 descriptors of the APST.
Live online delivery
Live online lessons will generally not be any impediment to teachers demonstrating their proficiency referencing the standards. In this case, mentors should discuss the observation and its link with the Inquiry with the Provisionally Registered Teacher (PRT) and decide upon the focus. The mentor will require access to the session and will take note of any feedback for the PRT during a debrief session after the class at a time that is mutually convenient.
PRT’s will need to be careful to collect their work samples from their focus learners and keep records of observations and discussions.
Multi modal delivery
In some cases, workplaces may deliver the curriculum via a mixture of online contact and pre recordings of explicit teaching. Again in this case the mentor and the workplace must discuss whether this delivery will allow the PRT to demonstrate proficiency against all of the descriptors of the APST.
Additional evidence can be used to demonstrate proficiency outside of the Inquiry as per the template titled: Evidence of professional practice for (full) registration.