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Introduction

Speaking about the famous quote from George Bernard Shaw “He who can, does; he
who cannot, teaches”, the negative stereotype can generate psychological influence on
teachers and further up lead to limitations of their pedagogical performances. Teachers,
as a crucial role connecting past and future, should find more support in larger
community rather than receive preconceived unreasonable judgment. This paper aims to
examine how teacher professionalism is shaped through intertwined cooperation of
pedagogy, curriculum and assessment and in return exerts impact on them respectively.
To exemplify how foundation concepts integrate and take effects, non-English speaking
students are scrutinized to see what the consequences might be if certain needs are not
met. Furthermore, teacher’s participation in facilitating curriculum, pedagogy and
assessment is discussed regarding ways in which it caters for students with diverse
abilities.

Teacher professionalism

As for Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST) (2011), there are seven
standards incorporated to guide teachers’ professional direction, and in many occasions
they are interrelated and overlapped. Categorized into three main areas, professional
knowledge, professional practice and professional engagement, those standards shed
lights on teachers’ progress at four stages as they move up from graduate to lead.
Preservice teachers, teachers and educators have long been judged in negative ways and
the stereotype presents hindrance to both their professional progress and achievements
(Swetnam, 1992; Rydell, Rydell & Boucher, 2010). Wide acceptance of the quote reflects
the prevalence of this detrimental attitudes toward education. If teachers are identified as
incompetent in an area and choosing teaching as backup, how can students be expected
to achieve excellence under their guidance? Given the idea that most teachers are those
who “cannot”, the best way to educate next generation should be putting them with
those who “can”. Regardless of disproportion of population, do those “precious
experts” have professional knowledge of students? Do they know how to impart their
knowledge in different ways to parties with varying needs? With professional knowledge,
APST (2011) clearly points out standards as to what to teach, who to teach and how to
teach, which can be further explored regarding curriculum, pedagogy and assessment.
Van Driel & Berry (2012) view teachers’ professional development as combining
pedagogical knowledge with educational practice, creative instruction and reflection.
Unavoidably, students from diverse social, cultural and religious background require
different education strategies and in many cases these strategies should be reevaluated
and revised. It is therefore crucial to have a clearly constructed standard so teachers can
position themselves in a context where they understand their role. Moreover, while
gauging education environment, teachers will not be judged unreasonably and
stereotyped inferior.

Curriculum

Widely referred to as the content of teaching, curriculum is believed to be the core of


education. Egan, K (1978), after tracing back to the its Latin origin, define curriculum as
the extension of knowledge content not only about what need to be learned but also
covering individual differences. Australian Curriculum (AC) strives to establish
understanding that students need to access resources and be educated to their full
potential regardless of background. Reflecting on history, experience and context,
Australian Curriculum, Assessment And Reporting Authority (ACARA) (2012) integrates
contributions from experts nation wide to refine the curriculum and promote education.
With a main focus to boost education in terms of equity and quality, AC is committed to
construct a world prestigious system where up-to-date knowledge and skills are provided
equally to anyone. Davis and Krajcik (2005) state that curriculum, other than assisting
teachers with knowledge of particular instruction, should also equip them with general
understanding that can be flexibly applied. While teaching is a productive activity that
reflects dynamic interrelationship of teachers, students and knowledge, it is essential to
integrate them in a way that all parties can contribute their parts to sustainable
development. AC takes solid steps such as planning, writing, trying, implementing and
monitoring to ensure its maximum benefits. Regarding this, teachers are obviously
playing a significant role that penetrates through each stage. Gerrard and Farrell (2014)
points out the necessity to position teacher properly in curriculum creation and
development, especially for the purpose of unpacking teacher’s professionalism on the
scale of power and authority. In practice, to what extent can teachers have flexible
interpretation of AC and how will teachers’ diverse background be concerned while
forming the standard frame? Facing challenges like the stereotype that questions teacher’s
capability, it is important that a standardized curriculum is in easy access so people from
different backgrounds, no matter teachers, educators or researchers, will work as a whole
to keep a virtuous circle. Even though AC is not an omnipotent presence that solves all
problems, it indeed positively encompasses comprehensive commitments and facilitates
pedagogy, assessment and teacher professionalism.

Pedagogy

The notion of how to teach is considered by many as more practical and influential than
what to teach. Reproductive and innovative decoding of knowledge is much more
sophisticated and effective than simple transmission of what is on the book. NSW
Quality Teaching model, for example, drawing on Authentic Pedagogy (Newmann,
Marks & Gamoran, 1996) enables researchers to root in real classrooms to probe the
hidden dimensions (Quality Teaching in NSW Public Schools, 2012). It demonstrates the
practices that has been formulated for reference and further discussion. With feedback
based upon examination from different perspectives over two years, schools and
departments of NSW endeavor to enhance understanding and promote communication
of pedagogy. It is understood that quality education is combination of quality teaching
and quality learning, and as Gore (2007) indicates, advanced teaching and learning come
hand in hand with an aim to spur teachers on reflecting and refining. Therefore, it is
important to have a clear view of the frame of Quality Teaching model and chew it
down to each element for deeper understanding so as to better integrate them
accordingly. Covering a whole range from K to 12, the model seeks to guarantee the
completeness and depth of education. Classroom operations are viewed through
pedagogical lens in three dimensions: intellectual quality, quality learning environment
and significance. Each dimension contains six elements. Regarding the quote, as
knowledge integration (under the dimension of significance) is concerned, quality
education is far more sophisticated than mastering one subject or skill. It requires
connections within and beyond subjects. Moreover, the awareness of interrelationship of
pedagogy, curriculum and assessment plays a decisive role and has witnessed significant
growth and increasing researches. In 2012, a Special Interest Group (SIG) was formed
with the approval of British Educational Research Association (BERA) to help with the
researches of pedagogy, curriculum and assessment interrelation (O'Sullivan, 2013).

Assessment

Hugged and praised politically, standardized test has been lifted to a height where
government funding is reflected and school popularity mirrored. National Assessment
Program - Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) has been implemented since 2008 for
annual examination of students from Year 3, 5, 7 and 9, testing such skills as numeracy
and literacy to make sure students maintain crucial foundation for their academic
accumulation (ACARA, 2012). Test booklets are collected and marked by Australian
Curriculum, Assessment And Reporting Authority (ACARA) and results are recorded
and analyzed. It is worth noted that those data are not simply put on a record book and
shelf for dust, but rather professional gauge is thrown on them from a wide variety of
perspectives. For example, Thompson and Cook (2014) states that teachers are digitized
in a way that all their targets and devotions are publicized on the board of NAPLAN and
checked by the whole society with magnifying glasses. Even though no evidence shows
any connection between classroom events and test results, general public still hold firm
belief that good teachings share similar principles while looking at database where each
class has 30 sets of them. It is understandable when nothing else is providing better ways
to assess students’ growth in school over time, why not NAPLAN? At least numbers
show that after half a decade of implementation, NAPLAN has seen staggering growth
in numeracy and literacy performance from year 3 to year 5 (Thompson, 2014). In his
research, Thompson found that more than a quarter surveyed teachers believed the test
has united all to aim for positive harvest in literacy and numeracy and resources are used
more wisely. Another about 20 percent acknowledged its value for evaluating and tracing
students’ development over long term. Returning to the quote and systematic integration
of the four foundation concepts, assessment, on the high end of teaching practice, not
only ensures that teachers “can” and students “can”, but also facilitates curriculum and
contributes to quality teaching. It sets a bar for unanimous effort and selective
performance. In order to offer help to students for the assessment, curriculum will be
judiciously designed and pedagogy shrewdly refined. Thus, teachers professionalism,
curriculum, pedagogy and assessment are artfully and inseparably related to one another.

Applications of the Foundation Concepts

As a nation with high cultural diversity, Australian education has been facing the
challenge of how to meet the needs of those from various backgrounds. Students from
other language backgrounds (SOL) in particular, fall on the low-track due to language
hindrance (Kanno & Kangas, 2014). Accordingly, expectations on SOL has been rather
low and distribution of education resources is uneven. Rather than receiving reasonable
assistance for language growth, students with language barrier are treated with questions
to their general ability. As a result, the learning needs of this special group is not properly
addressed, and as Oakes (2005) puts, opportunities are inappropriately allocated to some
groups reflecting background disparity. Ability is not taken into consideration in such
case. Given this situation, those students do not have equal access to high order thinking
and teachers pay more attention on management rather than content for them.
Statistically, there is large scale under-representation of SOL in high-track classes and it
continues from middle school (Wang & Goldschmidt, 1999) to high school (Callahan,
Wilkinson & Muller, 2010). Facing such challenges, it is crucial for teachers to work
creatively and productively combining curriculum, pedagogy and assessment in a way
that serve all students equally regardless background. Drawing on Australian Professional
Standards for Teachers (2011), professional knowledge requires teachers to know how
students learn. Embracing students from diverse cultural, economic and linguistic
backgrounds, teachers should then know the content and how to unpack it with different
strategies catering for a full range of potentials. In real life, teachers are authentic
practitioners who penetrate throughout the whole process of designing teaching content,
putting it into practice, weighing its value and refining the whole formula. Regarding to
professional practice standards of APST (2011), teachers are expected to set achievable
goals to challenge students of different characteristics and abilities. This is crucial as it
plays a transitional role between curriculum and pedagogy, moving one step closer to
effective teaching and learning. Strategies and resources are also taking fair amount of
value because of their contribution to effective communication and broad support.
Another standard defines teachers role of assessing and feeding back to students’
learning (APST, 2011). In this regard, the specific needs of students from different
backgrounds can be diagnosed and a range of arrangements followed. In order to yield
clear understanding of relationship between teaching aims and learning achievements
and apply consistent judgment accordingly, teachers need to consider a wide variety of
factors, especially when background diversity is reflected throughout the foundation
concepts. As an important role shaping students’ characters and preparing them for
future, teachers should have both horizontal and vertical view interpreting curriculum,
pedagogy and assessment. To some extent, standardized curriculum (Gerrard & Farrell,
2014), quality teaching pedagogy (Ford, 2013) and national tests (Thompson, 2014) have
been charged with stifling diversity and creativity. However, it is undeniable that the
essential role teachers are playing works as a mediator which adapts standardization to
individual needs. Therefore, the quote that questions teachers’ competency fails to
examine teachers’ role on a comprehensive level. It is grounded on a imaginary basis that
teachers are “losers”. Truth is, most people choose to be a teacher out of passion rather
than failure. Instead of question and criticism they deserve trust and support. After all,
we all aim for a bright future.
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