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Curriculum & Leadership Journal
An electronic journal for leaders in education
ISSN: 1448-0743
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Writing professional standards for music teachers

Amanda Watson
David Forrest
Neryl Jenneret

In June 2002, the Australian Society for Music Education (ASME) endorsed a project to develop professional standards for Australian music educators. A draft version of the standards has been widely distributed throughout the profession to stimulate discussion. The project team, drawn from the ASME National Executive, consists of Dr Amanda Watson (Secretary), Associate Professor David Forrest (Publications Editor) and Dr Neryl Jeanneret (President).

A priority of the ASME project has been to involve and include music educators who work in all contexts, categorised in Australia as classroom music, instrumental music in schools and studio music teachers.


Background: the wider drive for teaching standards

The impetus for this project came from recommendations of A Class Act: Inquiry into the Status of the Teaching Profession (Senate Employment, Education and Training References Committee, 1998). The development of professional standards for Australian music educators builds on the major work undertaken in the disciplines of English and Literacy, Mathematics and Science.

Between 1999 and 2002, the relevant professional teaching associations representing these disciplines were funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) to develop professional standards and performance assessments. The long-term goal of each project was to support the development of a national voluntary system to provide professional certification to teachers whose practice has attained high standards as set by the profession in each of the three disciplines. A wider context of this work has included improved career paths for teachers, clearer long-term goals for professional development and greater responsibility within the profession for quality assurance.

It was also significant that at the time of writing the first draft of professional standards for Australian music educators, the Australian Joint Council of Professional Teaching Associations (AJCPTA) published a paper supporting this type of work by professional teaching associations. Titled Submission: Establishing the National Institute for Quality Teaching and School Leadership (February 2004), it stated that:

The AJCPTA is supportive of the research work conducted by professional teaching associations in the area of teaching standards … Their collaborative approach to the work has created a strong trust with those involved and has earned them respect from teachers and other professional associations.

The AJCPTA would like to see that other associations be supported to develop standards and accreditation processes for their specific fields.

National consistency in professional teaching standards is important particularly regarding portability (unpaged).


Towards implementation of standards for music teachers

The first stages of the ASME project consisted of a paper that included an extensive literature review. The project team also consulted widely with members of the profession. A forum was convened at the ASME National Conference in Darwin in July 2003. A two-day summit was held in Melbourne in February 2004. The first draft of the professional standards for Australian music educators was then developed.

The draft drew on the professional standards written by teachers of English and Literacy, Mathematics and Science, and also used advice regarding structure of professional standards published in A National Framework for Professional Standards for Teaching (MCEETYA, November 2003).

In adapting these guidelines to the context of music education, the ASME draft revised terminology at a number of points. The term ‘accomplished’ was a requirement of the standards in the other disciplines, but in music ‘accomplished’ is specifically reserved as a description of a performing musician. The terms ‘excellence’ and ‘outstanding’ also have links to the performer and a performance. After consideration, the term ‘expert’ was chosen as being more appropriate for the teacher of music in a number of educational contexts in Australia.

The ASME standards are presented in four domains, each with three subheadings (indicated in brackets, below):

  • Professional Knowledge (Teachers know their students, Teachers know their subject and Teachers know how students learn in music)
  • Professional Practice (Teachers plan for effective and creative learning, Teachers create and maintain a challenging and enjoyable learning environment, and Teachers assess and review student learning and plan for future learning)
  • Professional Relationships (Teachers continue to learn and engage in reflective practice, Teachers work collegially within their school community and wider professional communities to improve the quality and effectiveness of music education, and Teachers recognise and respond to a range of different learning contexts)
  • Professional Values (Teachers demonstrate cultural respect, Code of Conduct, and Teachers value music education as a shared enterprise).

The project team has also been aware of the future need to build in a form of assessment to make the professional standards meaningful and serve a practical purpose.

It is proposed that the professional standards for Australian music educators will be launched at the ASME XV National Conference  in Melbourne in July 2005.

Amanda Watson (arw@labyrinth.net.au)
David Forrest (david.forrest@rmit.edu.au)
Neryl Jeanneret (nerylj@unimelb.edu.au)

 

References

Australian Joint Council of Professional Teaching Associations. (2004). Submission: Establishing the National Institute for Quality Teaching and School Leadership. Leichhardt: Author.

MCEETYA. (2003). A National Framework for Professional Standards for Teaching. Canberra: Author.

Senate Employment, Education and Training References Committee. (1998). A Class Act: Inquiry into the Status of the Teaching Profession. Canberra: AGPS.

Key Learning Areas

The Arts

Subject Headings

Teaching and learning
Teaching profession
Standards
Music