The aim of the Mentoring and Reflecting: Languages Educators and Professional Standards (MoRe LEAPS) program is to develop accomplished teachers of Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese, and Korean in each state and territory by:
The focus then is on developing leadership in teachers of Asian languages. This leadership quality is called ‘professional agency’, that is, the ability to act in a reflective and reflexive manner.
This focus on developing leadership in teachers of Asian languages (Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese, and Korean) is crucial at the present time, when educational systems are seeking to engage with Asian languages and cultures and with developing an understanding of the Asian region through the curriculum as a whole. It is timely, given the changing position and status of Asian languages and cultures in education in the context of major changes in the social, political, and economic landscape in the context of globalisation.
Two significant educational developments at a national level in Australia highlight the importance of Asian languages and cultures and an understanding of Asia. The nationally agreed Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA 2008) includes languages as a key learning area and highlights the particular importance of Asian languages in this context. It also signals the development of the Australian Curriculum as a new, national curriculum. The Australian Curriculum includes Languages as a key learning area. The Shape of the Australian Curriculum: Languages (available at http://www.acara.edu.au/default.asp) has been developed and provides the basis for curriculum development in all languages. Work is well underway on the procedures and guidelines for developing curricula in specific languages. Work has also begun on drafting curricula for Chinese and Italian.
An important feature of this development in the languages area is that curriculum will be developed for each specific language in a way that acknowledges the diverse learners participating in language learning in Australian schools (i.e. second language, background, and first language learners). This acknowledgement is particularly valuable in languages such as Chinese, Korean and, to some extent, Japanese.
The Australian Curriculum also identifies seven general capabilities. Language learning contributes to the development of all these capabilities, in particular to the ‘intercultural understanding’ capability as one that focuses on developing global citizenship as a lifelong endeavour. The cross-curriculum priority ‘Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia’ provides scope for a whole-of-curriculum focus on engaging with the cultures and people of countries within the Asian region. Learning to communicate in the languages of the Asian region and to interact with intercultural sensitivity are fundamental to this priority.
The present project incorporates the use of the professional standards for accomplished teaching of languages and cultures (the Standards) and the language-specific annotations developed for Chinese, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish, as well as the Professional standards for lead teachers of languages and cultures. The standards for lead teachers grew out of the standards for accomplished teachers and reflect a different way of engaging in the profession rather than being simply a higher level of achievement. Both sets of standards for teachers of languages and cultures are consistent with the National Professional Standards for Teachers developed by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) (http://www.aitsl.edu.au/).
This project also invites ongoing work with the following modules developed in the Professional Standards Project (PSP):
These resources, which were developed by the Research Centre for Languages and Cultures (RCLC) at the University of South Australia, are available online on the dedicated project website of the Australian Federation of Modern Language Teachers Associations (AFMLTA) http://pspl.afmlta.asn.au/.
Another resource that may be used in conjunction with the Professional Standards Project materials is Teaching and Learning Languages: A Guide (Angela Scarino & Anthony Liddicoat, 2009), which is available at http://www.tllg.unisa.edu.au/.
Two professional learning modules have been developed by the RCLC as part of the present project. They include a particular focus on developing leadership, or what we call ‘professional agency’. These are:
These modules provide materials and processes designed to achieve the aim of the program as described above. Teachers develop their professional understanding and exercise leadership in their work when they are able to evaluate and investigate, in a systematic way, their own practices and the practices of colleagues. They also exercise leadership when they are able to mentor fellow teachers, collaboratively reflecting on their work in ways that strengthen the learning of all those involved in the process, especially students. Working on the development of professional learning, leadership, and professional agency through the two modules should begin from a shared knowledge base. A fundamental principle in the development of the present project is that all participants have knowledge, experience, and expertise, and the knowledge that participants bring is valued. A goal for all involved is to further develop this knowledge base — not only in terms of conceptual knowledge (knowing that), but also in terms of procedural knowledge (knowing how), metacognitive knowledge (knowing why), and ultimately knowledge of oneself as a teacher of languages with professional responsibilities (self-awareness).
The two modules provide materials that can be used to develop professional agency and, at the same time, they exemplify a way of working or stance. (See Scarino & Liddicoat 2009, pp. 4–5 for a discussion of stance in the context of languages education.) This way of working involves participants examining critically the assumptions, beliefs, and values that guide their work and that of others.
The principles and considerations that describe the view of professional learning, leadership, and professional agency, as captured in the modules, are that:
In professional learning in languages education:
In developing the materials it was necessary to begin with a set of characteristics that describe a language teacher who works with a leadership capability.
Language teachers with a leadership capability understand and work with:
These characteristics are reflected in the (draft) professional Standards for lead teachers of languages and cultures.
The two modules can be used in flexible ways, depending on different needs, in different contexts, and in different Asian languages.
It is not possible to anticipate in advance the precise nature of the work that participants will undertake as part of the present project. The ways in which the materials will be used will depend on the:
(2) professional networks
(4) specific Asian language
(5) area of focus, which might include:
(6) availability of resources, including time
(7) model of mentoring
Users are encouraged to work with the materials and tailor them to their particular languages and context. The online environment affords immense possibilities for collaboration across the network of participants, locally and nationally.