Let me tell you something you probably already know.
- Sometimes, our best foundation education tutors are already the ones doing everything else as well.
You know who these folk are. Their students love them, they’re coaching their kid’s rugby or netball team on the weekend, they’re looking after extended family and more.
If they’re lucky they’re paid well. But most are not. Working conditions are tough. Some have the right professional qualifications and experiences. Others do not.
They have strengths. Sometimes they have tremendous expertise. And a few demonstrate amazing – and often humble – leadership in the work they do.
When you ask these tutors to engage in professional development and training, it adds another layer of complexity to their already busy lives.
It’s about time we gave serious thought to some better ways of working with our best tutors.
The system is kind of set up for this. But we’ve made it too complicated. It’s time to redesign and perhaps co-design how we want this work.
For example, if, as a tutor, you already possess skills and abilities, and you have the evidence to prove it, these should be recognised within the system that we use.
Let’s try and put it in context. I’ll use myself as an example. The boss comes to me with a professional development plan. Aside from the extra time costs, here’s what’s going through my head:
- Don’t send me off to get training on how to use the Assessment Tool if I’m already using it with my own learners. I already know how to use it. Instead, can’t you use the evidence already generated by the system to attest to the fact that I’m already competent in this area?
- Likewise, if I’m already delivering results working with my Pasifika learners, then let me show the evidence for this. Can’t we just acknowledge this in some way? Don’t send me off for cultural competency training.
But if there’s an obvious gap in my knowledge or experience, then it’s a different thing. I’m still busy but perhaps we should explore some different options. For example:
- It’s clear to me that I lack confidence embedding numeracy into my vocational training. Why can’t you hook me up with some training that will allow me to become a better maths person and explore some different ways to work with numbers in the context of my training? Do I need to complete a whole other qualification?
- Most of my learners are Maori. If I’m honest with myself, I can see that I need to know more about what works for my Maori learners. Perhaps I do need some mentoring in this area. I’ll take time out of my busy week and attend some workshops as long as I know they’re targeted towards the support I need. Perhaps I should even complete an online micro-credential that attests to these new skills.
None of this is to say that we should do away with professional qualifications for tutors.
But I think we need to acknowledge that we need some new and creative ways of recognising tutor competencies where we find them. And then designing bespoke approaches to training and micro-training where there are gaps.
And then let’s see how this connects with the qualifications.
What do you think?