The Teachers’ Standards in Primary Schools

The goal of a teacher is to “achieve the highest possible standards in work and conduct” (Carrol & Alexander, 2016, p. 6). Department for Education develops standards and reviews them in case of necessity. At present, the activity of school leaders and staff are guided by the Teacher’s Standards 2012 (Department for Education, 2011). Teaching standards are supposed to support teachers’ professional development and growth (Department for Education, 2014).

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Standard 1: Set High Expectations Which Inspire, Motivate, and Challenge Pupils

This standard comprises three objectives that have to be followed. First of all, it is establishing a safe and stimulating environment for pupils, rooted in mutual respect. In my primary class, special attention is given to the environment. I believe that environment can support and stimulate learning, and I arrange the classroom to make it a source of information for primary students. To extend learning, the classroom has posters that can answer some questions and stimulate pupils’ curiosity. I pay attention to attendance and punctuality, stimulating students to come on time. Everyone who is not late in the morning gets a cookie. Every Friday, we practice celebration assemblies to admit students who were active, demonstrated good behavior, etc. during the week. I support a relaxed atmosphere in the classroom and believe it helps students express their opinions and have respect for other students and their ideas. Finally, some safety measures are taken. For example, objects that can be broken or can hurt a child cannot be accessed without assistance from an adult.

The second objective comprises setting goals that stretch and challenge pupils of all backgrounds, abilities, and dispositions. My classroom is student-centered, which means that the children are aware of the learning goals and know how to achieve them. Of course, every long-term goal is divided into smaller steps to make them achievable for the pupils. Also, we practice projects as a way to demonstrate that the goal is achieved, and this type of activity is beneficial for the majority of students. To outline behavior goals, the class has developed a code of conduct that has to be followed. Within this objective, I define vulnerable children (there are two boys brought up by only mothers and a girl cared for by guardians) and plan interventions to reduce their vulnerability. Although there are no representatives of ethnic minorities in the class, other cultures’ celebrations are held as a part of cultural competence formation. Much attention is given to the students’ progress. I do my best to receive feedback and assess the effectiveness of my planning.

The final objective of Standard 1 is a consistent demonstration of the positive attitudes, values, and behavior that are expected of pupils. A teacher is a major example for pupils, so I am always polite and respectful with everyone in and outside the classroom. I consider that regular feedback to students about their behavior or evaluation of different events is significant as well. This objective is also closely related to the code of conduct, which is strictly followed, including both rewards and sanctions. School values and vision should be explained already in primary school to make pupils feel like a part of a big school family. As a rule, students are very responsive and accept these values willingly. They are proud to be students and demonstrate it. Still, although the feeling of being one of the family is developed, we value every personality because every child is unique, and we do our best to disclose individual features and talents.

Standard 2: Promote Good Progress and Outcomes by Pupils

The objectives of this standard are important because they help to trace the progress of the students and include the following. First of all, as a teacher, I am accountable for pupils’ attainment, progress, and outcomes. I organize student progress meetings for parents to present some analysis of the students’ performance and determine vulnerable groups in case they appear. In fact, students’ progress is evidence of my work. I keep my records and compare the expected outcomes with the actual results to reveal the weak points and improve my planning. I have started an intervention that is a class project. It is a class scrapbook that is created by every student and reflects their progress. Making a pupil aware of the achieved goal is one of my tasks as well.

Being aware of pupils’ capabilities and their prior knowledge is a must, and I plan to teach to build on these data. I use annotated lesson plans that consider the peculiarities of my students. They help me to adapt the curriculum to the personal needs of a child. Regular assessment provides information about the progress and facilitates further planning.

Another objective is to guide pupils to reflect on the progress they have made and their emerging needs. To achieve this objective, I make lesson observations. I have to be sensible about students’ reactions to marking because some children get upset with a good mark and the others are happy with satisfactory. Keeping a journal and diaries is my responsibility as well. Diaries provide the parents with information about their child’s performance. To stimulate progress and assess it, a Learning Wall technology can be applied. After one target is accomplished, I help a pupil to select another one and determine his or her own success criteria.

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Demonstration of knowledge and understanding of how pupils learn and how this impacts on teaching is one more objective of Standard 2. In my practice, it includes lesson planning for different categories of students. Also, I apply diverse teaching styles to keep my students interested and define the most productive methods for every child. For example, some pupils are better taught in a group or in pairs, while others need an individual approach. During one lesson, I try to study the needs of my class to use this knowledge in further lesson planning. I also believe it is important to obtain pupils’ feedback at the end of a lesson to analyze both the lesson and students’ reactions to it.

Finally, I do my best to encourage pupils to take a responsible and conscientious attitude to their own work and study. Even in primary school, children can realize the importance of Education. Proper motivation contributes to their responsible behavior as well as to the awareness of conscious attitude to studies. I allow them to set goals and be responsible for their achievement. Of course, they can ask for help or advice, but the majority is proud of being independent learners and study consciously.

Standard 3: Demonstrate Good Subject and Curriculum Knowledge

Good subject and curriculum knowledge is a demand for any teacher. First of all, a teacher should have a secure knowledge of the relevant subjects and curriculum areas to be able to foster and maintain pupils’ interest in the subject and address any misunderstandings that appear in the process of learning. Good subject knowledge allows a teacher to plan lessons and integrate every topic into the learning process. Moreover, a dedicated teacher who is interested in the profession and has good knowledge of subjects can attract pupils’ attention easier. One of the interventions that I consider effective for introducing a subject is an organization of focus weeks when every day is dedicated to a certain aspect of the topic. It provides deeper penetration and results in a better understanding of the learning material.

Demonstration of a critical understanding of developments in the subject and curriculum areas and promotion of the value of the scholarship is the second objective. This area is not visible for pupils but crucial for a teacher. At our school, it is provided through staff meetings where we can share our understandings with colleagues. Also, we have an opportunity to visit lessons of more experienced colleagues and observe their application of teaching methods and the interpretation of the curriculum.

Another important objective is to demonstrate an understanding of and take responsibility for promoting high standards of literacy, articulacy, and the correct use of standard English. It is important for every teacher, not only to those who teach language. A teacher is a model of spoken and written English. My task is to speak distinctly and with correct grammar as well as to listen to pupils talking and help them articulate their thoughts. I believe that reading is determining the active and passive vocabulary of a student, so I dedicate much classroom time to reading and advise home reading for the parents of my students.

Except for developing vocabulary, a clear understanding of systematic synthetic phonics can be demonstrated while teaching early reading. During this period, it is necessary to teach letters and sounds and provide their training through multiple repetitions, which is the best method to remember the material. I am very careful while listening to my students’ reading because I have to elicit mistakes and help them remember the correct variant. As a rule, children have diverse reading skills, so my task is to make them all equally interested during the lesson through the use of an individualized approach.

In case I teach early mathematics, I am expected to demonstrate a clear understanding of appropriate teaching strategies. For mathematics lessons, I need careful planning and selection of methods. Simply memorizing would not be effective. Thus, logical explanations of calculations should be provided. Similarly to other subjects, visual materials are necessary because children remember the material better is it is given in different resources. Thus, I demonstrate a visual, explain it with voice, and then children write it. Mathematics is expected to leach students to calculate, manipulate data, and apply mathematics outside the classroom.

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Standard 4: Plan and Teach Well-Structured Lessons

Presentation of new knowledge is expected to be more efficient in case a lesson is planned and well-structured, and Standard 4 provides objectives for planning. First of all, it is important to impart knowledge and develop understanding through effective use of lesson time. In primary school, one-activity lessons would not be working. Lesson time should be divided between the activities to keep students active and interested. To provide effective planning, I make observations during the lesson to identify the activities that make my students engaged and productive and include them more frequently into the lesson plans. I always find time to greet the students and listen to their feedback because these activities help to organize the class and assess my work. With careful planning, the major learning activities do not suffer.

Also, it is important to promote a love of learning and children’s intellectual curiosity. I try to include the tasks that are not only informative or follow a standard pattern but also make students face little challenges. Moreover, a little project that is a part of Science lessons, for example, are called to stimulate their curiosity and teach some research. One of the productive enrichment opportunities is the invitation to visitors. Thus, while teaching professions, we were inviting people of different occupations to talk about their job and answer the questions. They were mainly the parents of our pupils, so parental participation was also addressed.

I believe that setting homework and planning some out-of-class activities can contribute to the consolidation and extension of knowledge that the pupils have acquired. To address this objective, I plan homework for every class. Of course, it is not big or complicated in primary school, but it provides some revision exercises. Another aspect to remember is that homework should be checked regularly. For some lessons, school trips can be used to consolidate pupils’ knowledge. For example, after learning the topic of farming, the class visited a real farm.

The effectiveness of lessons and approaches to teaching should be systematically reflected. It is needed to compare lesson objectives and outcomes and evaluate a degree to which the learning goals were achieved. This self-analysis and self-assessment allow me to see the strong and weak parts of my planning and improve the lesson plans. In case of necessity, I can consult more experienced colleagues and ask them for an evaluation of my plans and choice of methods.

Finally, this standard includes teacher’s contribution to the design and provision of an engaging curriculum within the relevant subject areas. As a professional, I apply curriculum on practice and can make conclusions about its efficiency for primary students. Thus, teachers have an opportunity to discuss the curriculum issues with governors and stimulate its change in case the present curriculum does not meet the demands of contemporary learning. I have not had such an opportunity yet, but I would like to have one. I consider that teachers should be active participants in the curriculum process because they can express both their ideas and bring pupil’s voices to the public.

Standard 5: Adapt Teaching to Respond to the Strengths and Needs of All Pupils

One of the challenges faced by teachers in adapting teaching to satisfy the needs and address the strengths of pupils. One of the demands of a teacher is to know when and how to differentiate appropriately and apply approaches that enable pupils to be taught effectively. It can be achieved through planning that neutralizes the discrepancies in pupils’ skills development. The discrepancies in primary school are the most evident. Some pupils can already read when they come to school, and others only start learning letters. One of the goals of primary school is to eliminate these discrepancies and bridge the knowledge gaps. Still, while the level of pupils is different, the selected goals and knowledge assessment should be appropriate.

The second objective for primary school teachers is to have a secure understanding of how a range of factors can inhibit pupils’ ability to learn and find the best ways to overcome them. One of such ways is differentiated lesson planning that considers peculiarities of child development. Another way is to define learning styles and select appropriate methods. In my work, I am guided by the work of children and their progress. In case I see that a child who was weak is progressing, I would change methods and give him or her some more complicated tasks to stimulate self-confidence.

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A related objective is to demonstrate an awareness of the physical, social, and intellectual development of children, and know-how to adapt teaching to support pupils’ Education at different stages of development. It also demands a personalized approach and the use of suitable teaching strategies. For example, I keep training records which I analyze to help me understand the reasons for children’s need in some specific approaches. Sometimes they are not connected with learning but with some situations in the family. In such cases, I can advise meeting a consulting psychologist to reveal a real problem and eliminate it.

The diversity of students results in the following objective, which demands that teachers had a clear understanding of the needs of all pupils, including those with special educational needs; those of high ability; those with English as an additional language; those with disabilities; and were able to use and evaluate distinctive teaching approaches to engage and support them. Diversity makes lesson planning more complicated. It is important to consider the educational needs of all the pupils. For all of my students, English is the first language, so we do not have any language barriers. Still, there is a girl with vision impairment, and I need to plan activities that would not make her feel uncomfortable. One problem I have within following this objective is that there are four students of high ability in the class. My major task is to choose methods and techniques that would keep them busy and interested while I have to work with the rest of the class. In addition, I had some problems with assessment at first, but then I developed my personal assessment method.

Standard 6: Make Accurate and Productive Use of Assessment

Assessment is an integral part of learning. It has a dual aim. First of all, it allows evaluating pupil’s performance and the level of obtained knowledge. Secondly, it provides me with an opportunity to assess my work because students’ performance depends on teaching styles and methods. To make assessments, I am supposed to know and understand how to assess the relevant subject and curriculum areas, including statutory assessment requirements. An assessment allows us to reveal the gaps and plan actions to bridge them. Sometimes external moderation can be involved, but it is not frequent in primary school. Internal lesson observation by other teachers can be applied. The feedback they provide should be analyzed and used in further planning.

To secure pupils’ progress, both formative and summative assessment can be applied. These assessment approaches allow differentiation between vulnerable groups or more able students or students with special needs who cannot be assessed on a regular basis. The results of the assessment can be presented during student progress meetings with the invited parents. Usually, the assessment provides data that can be analyzed to reseal knowledge gaps. In my class, the assessment revealed that about one-third of students had problems with identifying shapes. Consequently, I included suitable materials in the following lesson plans that helped to eliminate this gap. Moreover, new targets can be set after the assessment is conducted to follow the curriculum requirements.

It is important for a teacher to use relevant data to monitor progress, set targets, and plan subsequent lessons. These actions become possible due to the assessment. It is necessary to organize regular assessments of students’ performance, thus providing data for comparison and progress monitoring. As a rule, further planning, both medium and short-term, is based on the assessment data and its monitoring. Long-term goals are not typical of primary school, or they are divided into several stages with short-term goals because pupils are still not well oriented in time.

After all, regular feedback is one of the most important aspects of the assessment process. Teacher’s feedback can be provided through accurate marking or orally. However, with any of the selected methods, it is important to explain the mark and make a pupil understand his or her strong points and mistakes. Self-assessment can also be used with primary school students. My experience proves that with little guidance, pupils can give an objective evaluation to their own progress or achievements of their classmates. Even in the case of self-assessment, the teacher’s feedback is important because a teacher is usually an authority for pupils. First of all, the teacher should explain the mark and find positive words to describe the progress. It is important to praise a child even for little achievements to stimulate his or her desire for further accomplishments. Also, it is necessary to point out the reasons for grades that are lower than they could be. After the assessment, a teacher can help pupils to set further goals that are curriculum-related. Together with pupils’ goals, the teacher plans his or her further work.

Standard 7: Manage Behaviour Effectively to Ensure a Good and Safe Learning Environment

Behavior management at school is as important as the learning process because poor behavior is likely to have a negative impact on learning outcomes and students’ progress. The first objective demands are having clear rules and routines for behavior in classrooms and taking responsibility for promoting good and courteous behavior both in classrooms and around the school, in accordance with the school’s behavior policy. For every teacher, observation of pupil behavior is one of the primary tasks since it is related to their safety as well as to the learning process. It is important to have visible, clearly set rules of classroom behavior. In my class, we have developed a code of conduct based on the school behavior policy, and students are stimulated to follow it because they are praised for good behavior. Moreover, I claim that the teacher should be with the class in and outside the classroom during the time the children are at school.

Every school sets its own expectations of behavior that are usually high. Moreover, schools establish a framework for discipline with a range of strategies, using praise, sanctions, and rewards consistently and fairly. It is important to use all the identified strategies to show pupils that the system is working and every action, positive or negative, will be followed by a reaction. In our class, we have established a weekly reward for good behavior, and pupils are stimulated to control their actions. On the whole, there are no significant behavior problems in the class. Since the beginning of the year, no detentions or exclusions were applied to do my students. I also teach them that it is necessary to control behavior outside school as well to become a decent person.

Another behavior-related objective is managing classes effectively, using approaches that are appropriate to pupils’ needs in order to involve and motivate them. This objective comprises, for example, the observations of other staff members. Thus, pupils can behave differently with the supply teacher and with me, so we share our observations to have a clear picture of what is going on. In case of necessity, observations of other staff members can be considered in evaluating the behavior of the class. Within this objective, a teacher should have knowledge of conflict resolution techniques to apply them if necessary.

Finally, Standard 7 presupposes the maintenance of good relationships with pupils, exercising appropriate authority, and decisive actions of a teacher. I believe that I have good relations with my students. They are eager learners, and they trust my authority. I respect them as personalities, and they respect me as well. I am a strict teacher, but I am fair, and my decisions always have a strong basis. I do my best to educate them and bring them up as worthy citizens. At present, I am not disappointed with their academic performance or behavior. Our communication is friendly; they can talk to me not only about the studies. Still, I do not become an older friend and maintain teacher-pupil relationships.

Standard 8: Fulfil Wider Professional Responsibilities

The final standard applied in teaching explains fulfilling wider professional responsibilities. The first objective here includes making a positive contribution to the wider life and ethos of the school. I understand this objective as providing activities apart from teaching that are also beneficial for me as a professional and for the school as a whole. It can comprise, for example, some enrichment activities such as organizing or leading some events. Diverse after-school activities also belong here. For example, I was organizing a charity fair for primary school pupils and their parents, which was a useful experience because extracurricular activities disclose the hidden qualities of the students.

Another thing I consider meaningful is the development of effective professional relationships with colleagues. I actively apply this opportunity because sometimes, I need advice and specialist support. When I first came to school as a teacher, I did not have much experience in planning lessons, and my colleagues shared their knowledge.

One more objective I still have to study is the effective deployment of support staff. They can be involved in lesson observations, assessing student progress, team meetings, help with planning, and many other school activities. The role of support staff is frequently underestimated, but they can be really helpful.

High pupils’ performance would not be possible without the continuous professional development of a teacher. Thus, teachers have to take responsibility for improving their teaching through appropriate professional development, responding to advice, and feedback from colleagues. Feedback from colleagues who are more experienced is usually useful because it helps to evaluate professional development and outline one’s ways for improvement. For example, when I was not sure about the choice of the assessment strategy, my colleagues advised me what to do. On the whole, I believe that peer observation is a good method in assessing the work of colleagues. It leads to sharing some practical tips that can be helpful for young teachers.

Finally, Standard 8 includes communication with parents with regard to pupils’ achievements and well-being. It presupposes teacher’s reports about pupils’ performance and behavior and parents’ feedback. One of the major parent roles is control over a child’s education activity, a home task in particular. Also, parents can be involved in extracurricular activities.

References

Carrol, J., & Alexander, G.N. (2016). The teachers’ standards in primary schools: Understanding and evidencing effective practice. London, UK: SAGE Publications.

Department for Education. (, 2011). Teachers’ standards. Guidance for school leaders, school staff, and governing bodies. Web.

Department for Education. (, 2014). Teachers’ standards. How should they be used? Web.

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