Dr Kylie Zee Bradfield
Dr Constantinos Xenofontos
Dr Marina Shapira
Dr Andrea Priestley
Prof. Mark Priestley
University of Stirling
This report details the findings of an exploration into curriculum reform in Croatia, with a focus on mentors and their mentoring and principals and their leadership. Following a case-study approach that involved interviews and surveys, this reports shares results relating to these two important shareholders who are supporting the development of the new national Curriculum in Croatia in their different roles.
Mentors were overwhelmingly positive about the reform. They saw change occurring quickly and that these changes were paradigm shifts and cultural shifts, rather than just being about curriculum itself. The mentors reported both challenging and inspiring collaborations with teachers, however they reported teachers’ attitudes to the reform changing to become more positive about new pedagogical approaches. In their own roles as mentors, many described the need to help teachers move from knowing the theory to enacting the practice related to the reform. Overwhelmingly, the mentors cited the need for collaboration and working in their teams as being part of their effective practice, with their confidence being improved by the membership in a team of mentors. All mentors nominated their training with The British Council as being important to their growing knowledge base and increased feelings of confidence.
The findings from the questionnaire data confirm that mentors feel generally competent in helping teachers develop the expected competences (working towards learning outcomes, assessing learning, managing learning to learn, supporting problem solving, teaching with autonomy, collaborating effectively, and knowing the subject). Specifically, the mentors felt more competent in helping teachers know the subject, and less competent in helping teachers support problem solving and manage ‘learning to learn’.
The three principals in the study recognised and supported changes in the curriculum from traditional teacher-focused pedagogies to those that were more student-focused. Each was aware of the demand for pedagogical approaches aligned with the needs of today’s students, preparing them for today’s world. The principals reported that their initial challenge of enlisting teacher support for the reform had lessened, and that a new challenge related to their changing leadership roles as principals. All principals reflected on the need to move from principals who were managers, to principals focused on leading teaching and learning in their schools. These three principals showed deliberate attention to the reform and a highly focused attitude through shared vision and understandings of the reform. Their adaptions of the curriculum included the creation of teacher teams, the provision of resources for innovation, the generation of projects enlisting outside funding, and the participation in training in relation to the reform. Each principal identified the usefulness of their training with The British Council and called for their role in reform to be supported with continued training opportunities.
The British Council has been contracted to support the development of the new national Curriculum in Croatia (funder: the European Commission, client: the Croatian Ministry of Education). Previously, two universities have been sub-contracted to evaluate progress in the first phase of the curriculum’s development: a team of researchers at the University of Auckland (Sinnema & Park, 2019), and a team of researchers at the University of Stirling (Priestley & Ireland, 2019). Now, at the second phase of the curriculum’s development, the University of Stirling has been contracted by the British Council, to evaluate the progress of the curriculum implementation.
A number of recent studies in varied educational settings highlight the importance of mentorship (Hennissen, Crasborn, Brouwer, Korthagen, & Bergen, 2008; Ma, Herman, Tomkin, Mestre, & West, 2018; McLean, 2004; Ryan & Hornbeck, 2004) and leadership (Larkin, Seyforth, & Lasky, 2009; Qian & Walker, 2013; Tian, & Risku, 2019; Tong, 2010) in the effective implementation of curriculum reforms. Therefore, the current report aims at evaluating the progress of the curriculum implementation in relation to these two important key areas. In regard to mentorship, the focus is on mentors’ knowledge and understanding of the new curriculum and the support they provide to teachers. As far as leadership is concerned, the local authorities in Croatia were asked to indicate schools that appear to be doing well with the implementation. Following a case-study approach, we examine three key themes: (1) principals’ strategies in addressing teachers’ needs, (2) their leadership discretion in terms of autonomy and flexibility, and (3) the extent to which principals adapt the reform to school context.
The Importance of effective mentoring during curriculum reform
Relja et al. (2019) have identified a lack of expertise in educational management in Croatia and emphasised the importance of professional education in the professionalisation of school principals’ role. Investment in the professional development of teachers’ knowledge and skills is necessary to support curriculum reform. Access to formal mentorship programmes provide an opportunity for professional learning by allowing teachers to make links between theory and practice and by promoting staff engagement (Lofthouse, 2018). In their work which analysed communities of practice, Ma et al. (2018) highlight the important role that mentors play in bringing about institutional change by bridging the gap between theory and practice. The authors propose that teaching innovation and institutional change is supported by the knowledge exchange provided by mentors. Moreover, they suggest that mentors have an important role in increasing connectedness amongst teaching staff and in centralising the reform process.
Mentorship programmes provide a useful framework for collaborative approaches to reform by providing access to professional networks, which facilitate meaningful interaction between colleagues (Mulford, 2003). In recognising the role of teacher agency in curriculum reform, Priestley and Ireland (2019) argue that teachers must understand the point of educational reform and be afforded the opportunity to actively engage with policy through reflection and dialogue. Indeed, they argue that sense making is an essential component of curriculum making and suggest that teachers are given the time and resources required to engage deeply with new concepts through structured activities. Active teacher engagement with mentorship and professional learning facilitates this process and is more likely to result in sustainable educational change whereby reforms are embedded in pedagogical classroom practice (Supovitz, 2008). According to Lofthouse (2018), face-to-face interaction is valuable because it promotes meaningful dialogue and provides a space for problem solving and transformational practice. The importance of open dialogue in mentor/mentee relationships, whereby conversation not only involves instructional dialogue from the mentor but where the mentor engages in two-way dialogue, has the potential to create a transformative space in which professional practice can be debated and new professional identities explored. In this sense mentorship can be seen as a valuable reform tool.
One of the main challenges of mentorship in educational reform is that adequate training must be given to teacher leaders to allow them to carry out their role effectively. To achieve their capacity as mentors, educational leaders must be given the opportunity to update their own professional knowledge base. The development of professional knowledge is crucial in establishing credibility with colleagues and mentees (Ryan & Hornbeck, 2004). In the case of Croatian curricular reforms, teachers are released from their teaching responsibilities to take part in personal development and to support other teachers (Sinnema & Park, 2019). This investment in teacher development demonstrates that efforts are being made to increase the capacity of mentors, in order to support the long-term goal of sustainable curriculum reform.
Principals as sense-makers
The implementation of curriculum reform is not a top-down linear process. Teachers possess the capacity to mediate policy through a process of iterative refraction (Supovitz, 2008). There is often tension between local interests and national reforms. Teacher agency influences the enactment of the curriculum at classroom level because teachers mediate policy to fit local contexts (Priestley, 2010). The educational reality experienced by young people is largely dependent on teacher translation of the curriculum and the extent to which they engage with, adapt, or indeed reject educational policy reform (Young, 1998, Ganon-Shilon & Schechter, 2019). Curriculum reform is enabled or constrained by the ecological context of existing school structures (Priestley et al., 2015) and principals play a crucial role in negotiating these barriers to implement curriculum reform.
Ganon-Shilon and Schechter (2019) discuss the role of headteachers in reconciling contrasting pressures between internal goals and external reform demands, and also highlight the significant role of school principals as sense-makers during reform implementation. The way in which principals engage in sense-making influences how reforms are implemented in practice. The principal plays an important role in developing a shared vision of policy enactment as well as empowering staff to achieve goals (Bush & Glover, 2014). The extent to which a principal engages with policy shapes the implementation of reform. The active participation of principals in developing educational practice promotes cohesion amongst teaching staff and provides a high level of collegiality, which is necessary to facilitate educational reform (Relja et al., 2019). Teacher agency is enhanced by principals building positive relationships with staff and creating cultures in which teachers feel supported to implement change in around their classrooms (Grootenboer, 2018).
Effective leadership is a key element of successful schooling. Gunter (2004) proposes that there has been a substantive shift in school leadership, from ‘educational administration’ to ‘educational management’, within the current ‘educational leadership’ paradigm. It has been acknowledged that the Croatian education system needs to evolve from a position where principals are viewed, or indeed view themselves, as ‘administrators’ by undergoing a process of professionalization through continued professional development (Priestley and Ireland, 2019). This viewpoint is reinforced by the fact that the curriculum reforms in Croatia have reduced the administrative responsibilities of headteachers and reframed their role as educational leaders and school-based curriculum developers (Sinnema & Park, 2019). Lee, Dimmock, and Au Yeung (2009) identified leadership as a means to implement transformative curriculum reform. In terms of school leadership, they urge a shift from ‘hierarchical’ leadership practices to a system of distributed leadership, whereby principals rethink their management approach to work towards building co-operative teacher-principal relationships, which encourage collegiality and create a culture in which ‘risk taking’ is accepted as a means to promote innovation.
Individualistic hierarchical models of leadership have been criticised because it has been argued that leadership is not the just the thoughts or actions of an individual leader (i.e. the principal), but rather a social process in which interactions create and sustain change (Gootenboer & Larkin, 2019). Distributed leadership has become the dominant discourse in school leadership. Spillane (2006) offers a social definition of distributed leadership in which leadership is spread, shared and enacted across the whole school community. His definition is useful in the context of curriculum reform because it takes into account the ecology of schooling and the fact that leadership is both enabled and constrained by the infrastructure of schools. Moreover, it has been claimed that over-hierarchical systems of communication have been detrimental to policy reform (Priestley et al. 2015).
In terms of mentorship, data were collected through two methods. The first regards an online questionnaire, based on seven of the nine competencies identified in previous phases of the project. In particular, mentors were asked to indicate the extent to which they feel competent in supporting teachers develop the following: (a) working towards learning outcomes; (b) assessing learning; (c) managing learning to learn; (d) supporting problem solving; (e) teaching with autonomy; (f) collaborating effectively; and (g) knowing the subject. We decided not to focus on the competencies regarding ICT and inclusive practices, as these will be examined at a later stage. The questionnaire can be found in the appendix of this report. Invitations were sent to all mentors involved in the previous phase of the wider study (approx. 100 participants). 62 responded positively by filling in the questionnaire. In addition, invitations were sent to all mentors to participate in semi-structured individual interviews to further investigate their experiences relating to the seven competencies. In particular, the interview questions invite mentors to reflect on their experiences and share stories of successes and challenges in relation to their mentorship. Some sample questions are presented below:
• How would you rate your own competence in this area?
• How competent are you in supporting teachers in this area?
• What do you think about the quality of support you have received from British Council in this area?
Twelve individual interviews of approximately 40 minutes each took place, a number considered to be sufficient to reach data saturation (see Guest, Bunce, & Johnson, 2006). For maintaining anonymity, participating mentors have been allocated a code of M1 – M12.
As far as leadership is concerned, we examined the cases of 3 schools identified by local authorities as being successful in the implementation of the reform. Specifically, motivated by the recent work of Ganon-Shilon and Schechter (2019), we focused on three key themes: (1) principals’ strategies in addressing teachers’ needs; (2) their leadership discretion in terms of autonomy and flexibility; and (3) the extent to which principals adapt the reform to school context. Data collection consisted of semi-structured individual interviews with principals, discussions with teachers, and researchers’ field notes from visiting the schools. For maintaining anonymity, participating principals have been allocated a code of P1 – P3. It should be noted that, while the reform is currently implemented in 74 schools, the purpose of a case-study approach is not to produce generalisable findings, but rather to identify good practices implemented in schools considered to be effective and highlight the extent to which these practices are transferable across cases (Yin, 2009).
Change, shifts, and optimism
Mentors were overwhelmingly positive about the reform, and the “new wide world” that they are facing as educators (M5). All believed that change was well underway, arriving more quickly than first thought. M2 saw a “snowball of change” among teachers who had begun acknowledging that the way students had been taught did not necessarily produce the “best grades or technology access”. Mentors noted that although change had begun at a small level, teachers who might not have believed that the promised changes would take place could now see the change occurring. M2 reported teachers feeling that they knew change was needed and were open to this, while still experiencing anxiety in areas such as assessment. Interestingly, M1 noted the belief that there wasn’t a sense of “eliminating the old” to bring in the new.
Mentors also noted that teachers had recognised the large monetary investments that the Ministry had made to support the reform, especially in the provision of equipment and technology, and in the training of mentors. M3 reported the teachers “knowing that the reform is here to stay”, that they appreciated the training and mentoring, but that the time commitment for them to enact the reform was significant. M3 also noted that the questions being asked by teachers were no longer about the “why” of the reform, but more about the “how”, which was seen as an important change. Many mentors noted the increase in number of teachers accessing the online training which was considered as a sign of the increase in support for the reform and a positive outlook for change. M4 described the changes as being “paradigm shifts” and “cultural shifts”, rather than just being about curriculum, while M8 described the move from “vision” to implementation. An increase in teachers wanting the change and the “meeting of colleagues at a professional level” was noted by M5, who also reported that the role of the teacher was now closer to “what it should be”. After times of anger, M5 saw the increased level of voluntary participation by the teachers as important. M7 reported seeing a change from “not another reform” to teachers experiencing small successes and becoming “accepting” of the “world opening up to them” as teachers in Croatia.
Mentor Behaviours and Personal Characteristics
All mentors spoke about the importance of creating a relationship with teachers, so that the teachers did not feel threatened and knew they were understood. According to M2, the relationship should be one where the mentor does not overemphasise their skills and knowledge at the risk of making the teacher feel that they are being “looked down on”. M6 stated the equal importance of knowledge and relationship building for the mentor. Almost every mentor mentioned that they thought showing patience, while teachers communicated their thoughts, was a necessary characteristic. M1 reported that some of the teachers were angry at the extra workload and angry that they felt the students were not the same as they used to be. This required the mentor to let the teachers speak and listen to what they had to say.
Despite being confronted by many challenging situations, the mentors continued to confirm their stance of being helpful, understanding, and to assure the teachers that many things they were already doing were positive. To do this, they spoke about taking time to think and be careful with their responses, so as to be reliable. Being supportive and understanding of the teacher were important elements raised in the interviews with many of the mentors. Some described encounters with teachers who were angry about the increase in workload generated by the new curriculum, and how, by allowing the teachers the opportunity to speak they saw the teachers change. M7 noted the satisfaction found in making changes by “helping a teacher in the moment they needed help”.
Personal characteristics such as being hard-working, dependable, enthusiastic, and positive were also raised by the mentors. One mentor spoke about the need for “being in a good mood” (M1), in order to show a positive attitude to the teacher. Answering questions promptly, asking questions, giving examples, providing feedback on teachers’ online tasks, creating activities as practice before asking teachers to do the same, thinking and rethinking ideas and practices were identified by many mentors, including M3 and M4. Listening and providing opportunities for teachers to share their thoughts and frustrations (M1), having empathy, working from the place the teacher is beginning from, and learning from everyone were skills identified by M12. M5 believed that giving advice, preparing materials, reflecting on what the teachers are doing and asking, being highly professional, being a good manager, being able to balance demands, and motivating those who need it were part of a mentor’s skills. For M6 having subject expertise, being accessible, supportive, and non-judgemental were important attributes. Being a problem solver and being prepared to “get out of your comfort zone” was essential to M7, while using humour, and working to deadlines were identified by M10. Thinking of mentoring in a team, M4 highlighted the need for collaboration and compromising in a team as being characteristics of effective mentors (M4).
Some mentors used analogies and metaphors to describe their roles. One mentor reported the need to be a “bridge” between theory and practice (M1) and another as a critical element of the reform (M5). Having experience as a teacher and curriculum user was also mentioned by the mentors. Many believed that because they had experience, the teachers were more likely to see them as knowledgeable about reform. All mentors described the need for being knowledgeable, particularly about their content area, and having a willingness to keep learning. Every mentor recognised that they did not know everything they needed to know but saw this as a positive characteristic, meaning that they were learners along with the teachers. M5 described the mentor role as “planting a seed and pretending that the flower is already there”, in order to create an environment for change. M7 described “being the difference” and wanting this to be how the teachers felt as well.
All mentors reported being confident in their abilities to work with teachers, although admitting that the levels of confidence could change depending on the situation, or “day to day” (M5). Some mentors reported feeling supported by the Ministry, while all mentioned the training provided by the British Council being related to how prepared that they felt about the curriculum reform. All mentors gave credit for their growing confidence to the training provided by the British Council.
There were statements that illustrated the complexity of the situation, with some mentors saying that they were surprised at how quickly the curriculum reform and changes in teachers’ practices were occurring, while at the same time reporting fear that future political decisions could stop the reform. Every mentor expressed their optimism about the curriculum reform being successful, despite also acknowledging the risks involved with what M1 described as “uncertainty in the political situation” and the belief that there were politicians who might want to stop the reform.
Knowledge and skills were reported in relation to the curriculum itself, including having digital skills. Some noted that they also acknowledged that they did not know all the answers, and that this meant they were always learning and that there was always room for improvement. All mentors highlighted that their own learning had led them to feel more confident and asserted that there was a need for on-going opportunities to support this continued growth. M5 described this as “learning all the time, lifelong learning, and constant questioning of ‘how’” within her mentoring experiences. Others, such as M4, noted that they all made mistakes, but were self-reflective and open to talking and learning from these. M9 described the importance of “knowing when you don’t know”. The mentors reported that they always tried to be reliable in the advice that they gave teachers, taking time to think and answer the teachers’ questions carefully. This also involved acknowledging when they had made mistakes or needed to modify an answer previously given.
For M3, confidence was improved by the membership of a team of mentors working together. According to M3, the team knew each other well and supported each other when answering questions, facilitating workshops, and generally completing tasks. Working in this kind of team led to the production of new ideas, discussions, and a respect for members of the team. M3 said she felt that she “had the team behind me”. M4 described feeling free to ask questions in the team, who were all there to support each other, while M10 described the “cohesion” of the group being important to their role. Working within these teams meant that “you can do things that you cannot do alone” according to M12.
Creating a bridge, opening doors and windows, acknowledging success
All mentors were confident in their knowledge of assessment practices, with it being part of their role to create a “bridge” (M1) between what the teacher already knew about summative assessment, to the new knowledge relating to formative assessment practices. All mentors supported the use of both the virtual and face-to-face methods that had been undertaken as training for the teachers in these areas.
Some mentors mentioned the importance of working with teachers in their area of expertise so that teachers saw the perspective of assessment from that lens. M2 highlighted the need to “open a door to change”, by beginning with what they teachers were already doing well. This involved the use of a “circle of success”, where the purpose was to recognise or appreciate what was already being done successfully. This was included to assure the teachers that they did not need to eliminate everything they were doing to bring in the new.
The concept of feedback, which had been a focus area of attention for mentors and teachers had been a challenging one too. M9 described teachers feeling that giving feedback was difficult, particularly in selecting which kind of feedback approach should be taken. M10 noted the importance of extra materials being provided to teachers, such as examples that could be used in the classroom, and opportunities for teachers to attend workshops and interact with mentors. M11 recommended “putting yourself in their shoes” when working with the teachers in this area. M11 believed that, by carefully supporting the teachers’ new understandings of feedback, the teachers’ views had also changed – from negative to positive.
Mentoring Experiences with Teachers
The mentors reported engaging with the teachers in various ways including through the virtual environment and face-to-face workshops. M3 reported that the online interactions were focused around a different topic every few weeks and involved tasks for the teachers to complete and forums for questions. The mentors provided feedback on the teachers’ tasks (e.g. lesson planning) and answered questions. M4 discussed the “team approach” that mentoring teams took, collaborating to support each other when there were difficult questions from teachers.
In terms of face-to-face interactions, many mentors believed that these were a more powerful experience for the teachers, as opposed to the online environment. For example, M5 stated that “seeing a practitioner is a stronger influence” on practice. M12 reported a “big difference” in the teachers after a year of working in the reform. She believed that most teachers were focused on outcomes, ready to cooperate fully, and were intent on building their own understandings in order to implement the reform. However, M11 also noted that each teacher was different, with some still questioning and debating elements of the reform.
The mentors were using case studies and role play in workshops. There were plans for the use of microteaching opportunities to address formative assessment around learning outcomes. Mentors discussed how they thought the teachers were now ready for this kind of experience which indicated the thoughtful scaffolding of learning experiences. M2 discussed the importance of elaborating on answers, problem solving, and giving examples. M3 described the use of modelling of lesson planning with teachers in the online community, with teachers receiving feedback on these.
‘Then come and show me’ and other challenges
Many of the mentors had been faced with challenging situations where teachers were either angry or negative about the reform. All reported that the teachers felt differently after participating in one of the training opportunities. However, M2 had recently met with teachers who were observed to be confrontational, making demands such as, “If you think you can do it, then come and show me”. M2 felt that some teachers believed they had no more to learn. Other mentors shared challenges with teachers who were anxious about the new autonomy that they were experiencing, with teachers asking, “Who will tell us what to do?”, or making comments such as, “curriculum is not my job” (M5), or making demands such as, “tell me what to do” (M8). Some mentors reported the anger of teachers at the increase in workload supposedly generated by the reform, but that they felt these feelings were mediated by the teachers’ opportunities to discuss their concerns and were even changed as a result of participating in seminars. The mentors saw many moments of change from anger to becoming intrigued, or to becoming more positive about a new pedagogical approach once the teacher had participated in learning.
Mentors reported that the giving and receiving of feedback from peers was not something that was familiar to the teachers and that some teachers found receiving feedback difficult. As mentors, they had to be gentle as the teachers often did not see the feedback as “help” (M1). They also reported that the giving of feedback was not unified or consistent among mentors, with some seen as “the good cop” and some as “the bad cop” (M1). It appeared that some mentors believed that teachers needed to be treated gently, as they became familiar with receiving feedback, while others appeared less concerned about this. For some mentors, the challenge of teachers expecting that they “knew it all” was one they felt. M3 described the online classroom and the giving of feedback to over a thousand teachers by herself and 3 other mentors. The teachers were asked to design a lesson plan depicting a particular skill and each plan was provided with written feedback. This feedback included things done well, and things to improve upon.
Other challenges mentioned were related to the curriculum, where mentors noted things that needed to be clarified for both themselves and teachers. M2 reported the anxiety of teachers around assessment, acknowledging that parents and students in Croatia felt that grades were very important. Teachers’ concerns related to how to write tests, so that the focus was on the knowledge of the students and not simply on the final grade. All mentors reported that some teachers were still insecure in giving feedback, questioning “are we good enough?” (M5). As a result, this mentor had focused on implementing more simple strategies, such as self and peer assessment, with these teachers. M12 reported their belief that teachers were still “at the beginning” of learning about assessment and feedback and needed more time and opportunities to see how it could make changes to in classrooms, or to have the “aha” moment.
Evidence from the quantitative data – the questionnaire
Correlation between different competences
In order to examine how closely different competences among mentors are related, we constructed an item scale for each ‘competence’. A scale for each one of the competences was estimated as a sum of all items comprising the correspondent competence in the questionnaire, divided by the number of items. A reliability analysis has been carried out prior to that, to examine how closely the items that comprise each competence are related to each other, in order to determine the consistency and reliability of a measure for each competence. The results shown that there was a high degree of internal consistency between the items comprising each item-scale/competence (Cronbach’s Alpha coefficient was 0.85 or higher for all competences).
An analysis of the correlation between the resulted item-scales shown that, overall, the 62 responses to the questionnaire indicated a high sense of competence among mentors, for all seven competences included in the questionnaire. Specifically, as shown in the graphs below, the mentors felt more competent in helping teachers know the subject, and less competent in helping teachers support problem solving and in managing ‘learning to learn’.
Furthermore, as shown in the table below, all these competences appear to positively correlate with each other in a statistically significant way. There are differences though in the strength of the relationship. Thus, there a very strong positive correlation (the value of the Pearson correlation on above 0.7) between:
There is a moderate positive correlation (the value of the Pearson coefficient is between 0.5 and 0.7) between:
a. teachers assessing learning
b. managing learning to learn
c. teaching with autonomy
d. collaborating effectively
5. being competent in supporting teacher with problem solving and between helping teachers working towards learning outcomes.
|How competent do you feel in helping teachers|
|develop each of the following||assessing learning||managing learning to learn||problem solving||teaching with autonomy||collaborating effectively||knowing the subject|
|How competent do you feel in helping teachers?||develop each of the following||1|
|managing learning to learn||.639**||.602**||1|
|teaching with autonomy||.615**||.636**||.491**||.308*||1|
|knowing the subject||.759**||.642**||.525**||.292*||.659**||.621**||1|
Finally, there is a weak correlation between being competent in supporting teachers with problem solving and between helping teachers:
1. teach with autonomy
2. collaborate effectively
3. know the subject
4. assess learning
A high degree of reliability and consistency of the item-scales does not necessarily mean that the item scales are one-dimensional. Therefore, we explored whether all items that were initially assigned to a particular competence (item-scale) in the questionnaire, were indeed linked only to that competence or whether they might/should be considered as a part of a different competence. Therefore, we carried an exploratory factor analysis of all 32 questionnaire items. This factor analysis identified six factors which are presented in the following table. The table presents only items with a loading higher than 0.5. Items with factor loading less than 0.5 do not contribute to the factor in a meaningful way.
Rotated Component Matrixa
|Setting clear activity outcomes based on the national curriculum||.713|
|Covering subject knowledge and skills based on the national curriculum||.635|
|Planning lessons and activities based on the developed activity outcomes||.736|
|Ensuring that students are able to meet activity outcomes||.727|
|Using formative assessment data and providing relevant and timely feedback||.708|
|Providing opportunities for students to practice||.663|
|Promoting assessment for learning strategies, such as self-assessment and peer-assessment for students to inform their learning||.535|
|Applying assessment for learning strategies to measure individual student mastery and to conduct local, national and international comparisons (summative assessment)||.642|
|Reflecting on the appropriateness and effectiveness of chosen assessment strategies in order to improve assessment for learning, as learning and of learning||.556||.544|
|Helping students apply learning and information management strategies||.790|
|Helping students plan, monitor and evaluate their learning strategies||.751|
|Helping students manage their emotions and learning motivation||.787|
|Helping students create a suitable physical and social environment which stimulates and promotes learning||.717|
|Demonstrating the value and importance of problem solving skills to students||.847|
|Selecting appropriate problems for students to solve for your subject and cross-curriculum topics||.859|
|Ensuring that students have access to relevant resources for solving the given or selected problem||.817|
|Providing sufficient support to improve students’ application of problem-solving strategies||.888|
|Deciding on activity outcomes aligned with the principles of the comprehensive curriculum reform||.658|
|Deciding on appropriate teaching methods aligned with the principles of the comprehensive curriculum reform||.716|
|Using a variety of pedagogical approaches to include all students||.506||.539|
|Deciding which resources to use to help students meet activity outcomes||.520||.515|
|Taking responsibility for one’s own professional development, based on needs, interests and preferences||.798|
|Collaborating with colleagues to establish and meet shared objectives and pedagogical approaches (through team meetings, coaching, classroom observations, etc.)||.807|
|Co-planning of topics, lessons and activities (including outcomes), for your subject and cross-curricular topics||.790|
|Establishing inclusive, safe and inviting learning environments||.809|
|Developing learning resources and teaching materials collaboratively||.828|
|Reflecting on the established shared objectives; topics, lessons and outcomes, to further improve teaching and learning in school||.792|
|Teaching the subject, using a solid understanding of the subject content||.881|
|Using pedagogical content knowledge in teaching, i.e. knowledge about how to teach your subject||.779|
|Using effective teaching strategies to teach the subject knowledge and subject specific skills||.836|
|Introducing generic skills in the subject, and integrating application of subject knowledge and skills in cross-curricular topics||.510||.545|
Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis.
Rotation Method: Varimax with Kaiser Normalization.
a. Rotation converged in 8 iterations.
Overall, the factor analysis shown that there was a considerable degree of a correspondence between the initial item groupings according to the particular competences in the questionnaire and obtained factors. However, some items were loaded positively and strongly on more than one factor. Also, some items were loaded on a different factor than might have been expected, according to the item grouping in the questionnaire. This indicated that some of the items that were thought as being linked to a certain competence are in fact linked to either a) more than one competence or b) a different competence altogether. For example, the item “a competence in covering subject activities and skills based on the national curriculum” is not loaded on the same factor (Factor 1) as other items from the items’ grouping that was linked to the “Working towards learning outcomes” competence.
However, the item “competence in covering subject activities and skills based on the national curriculum” was loaded strongly on the factor that included all items from the grouping “Support problem solving” competence. Similarly, the item “Reflecting on the appropriateness and effectiveness of chosen assessment strategies in order to improve assessment for learning, as learning and of learning” was loaded both on the same factor as other items from the grouping “Assessing learning” competence (Factor 6), as well as was loaded positively on Factor 2 that included the items from the grouping “Collaborating effectively” competence. The item “Deciding which resources to use to help students meet activity outcomes” was also loaded on both on Factor 5 (with the rest of the items from the grouping “Teaching with autonomy” competence), but also on Factor 1 with the items from the grouping “Knowing the subject” competence.
Resting in a valley, where small farms and vineyards are worked by local families, the primary school consists of a main campus in the village and a smaller secondary building a few kilometres further into the mountains. It is a village where the principal stops and has conversations with local farmers who know him, where his family live, and where he was once a student and a teacher at this same school. There were just over 200 students, including a small number who live full-time in a nearby care facility, having been removed from their homes by the government because of concerns for their wellbeing. The principal reported that many of school’s children speak in the regional dialect, for which they are sometimes mocked by other students. There have also been noticeable increases in the number of students with ADHD, vocabulary difficulties, and students with speech, learning, and behaviour difficulties.
Addressing teachers’ needs
P1 reported observing the “lecturing” style involving teacher-focused pedagogies in his school, and the passive, bored and uninterested students as a result of this teaching approach. He saw his students studying for tests and then forgetting what they had learned. He knew this was the reason why the reform was needed. He asked the teachers to vote on whether they would support the school’s involvement in the experimental phase of the curriculum roll-out and found that 55% of them were in support. This was “the critical mass” he needed, so the school became involved in the reform. His interpretation was that the teachers were wanting more autonomy and imagining what it would be to “think outside the box” in relation to their classrooms. He reports that this year, two years into the reform, 100% of the teachers are supportive. For some teachers, he knew that the reform supports things that they were already doing, while others have now made the change and would “not go back” to how things were done before the reform, because they now had “freedom to respond” to their students’ needs, as well as considering what was happening in the local community.
P1 stated that his role was to encourage the teachers to dream about possibilities for their classrooms and to consider the potential of all their students. He called himself the “proposer of suggestions”, while also being able to “directly influence” the ways the classrooms were equipped, the training that the teachers could access, and how they were supported generally. He has grouped the teachers into teams so that they have a group of colleagues to support their implementation of the reform, while providing opportunities for teachers to build the skills and competencies to apply in their classrooms. P1 believed the teachers in the school are very happy.
Leadership: Autonomy and flexibility
P1 stated that, as a leader, he gives the teachers “the seeds of an idea” in order to create the environment he thinks is needed. The growing of the seed, he says, “cannot be forced” but if support is given to any impulse of teachers to make changes, he feels that he must support this to happen. P1 knew that some teachers would take up the challenge, while others would not.
P1 noted the lack of training for principals as a concern, with principal positions being filled by people who do not necessarily have the needed leadership skills. Important to P1 is the Ministry’s consideration of the principal in the reform. Teachers have been involved in many training opportunities, and he believed that principals should now be involved to a greater degree. He stated that training was needed for currently serving principals, not only in the reform, but in the areas of public relations, crisis management, and through opportunities to learn from other principals and school programs e.g. robotics.
Adaptation of reform for the school’s context
P1 stated that the environment of the school was one where the teachers had quite a lot of freedom and could use their own specific strengths to reach their “potential”, creating their own paths through the reform. It was important, however, for the teachers to recognise where they are going and what the future holds. P1 also highlighted the importance of the local area – of the village, the parents, and their place within Croatia – as part of this autonomy. The school must encourage their students to consider higher education, to identify the students’ “particular interests”, and support this while they are in the primary school. P1 stated that the school’s staff work to identify the “passions” of their students. As a result, more than twenty extra-curricular activities were now included in the school’s program. Examples include: a school radio station, a garden, choirs, and different crafts.
Classroom A Vignette
Seeming a world away from the farming landscape out the windows, a third-grade class sit in front of an interactive whiteboard. The children are learning vocabulary associated with ‘place and space’ (e.g. compass, map, north, south, east, west). On the whiteboard, the teacher leads the students in a game of concentration, as one-at-a-time, the students come to the front and ‘flip’ cards to try to match pictures of the concepts. There is dialogue around each choice, the teacher focusing on the pronunciation of the words, and questioning the students to check their understanding of the concept. The audience of students applaud happily when their peers flip over matching pictures. Next the teacher opens a quiz on the whiteboard, and the students must choose an option from a selection. The students, who have been sitting on large interactive cubes, work in pairs to choose an answer (from the vocabulary just practised) and turn their cube to have the side representing their answer to the top. Once everyone has done this, the teacher asks one pair to pick up and shake their cube, which activates the quiz’s settings and presents the correct answer up on the board. There are moans and happy cries as each pair acknowledges whether they were correct. The class is fully engaged and happy. This room is one that the teachers can book to be used for their classes, although the principal reports that most use the room and the interactive cubes as a means of checking the learning of concepts that have been taught already, as was the case with this class.
Classroom B Vignette
In a more traditionally organised classroom, a teacher works to teach the first-grade students the letter ‘v’ from the Croatian alphabet. In this classroom, the students sit in in rows and face the front, to see the same image displayed by a data projector onto a large whiteboard as that in the textbooks in front of them displayed by a data projector onto a large whiteboard. The teacher models the writing of the letter on the board, the students watch. The teacher then asks them to write the letter in the air, following her verbal instructions. They then work to complete the exercise in the textbook – the writing of the letter. The teacher moves around the room, stopping to provide feedback on the students’ work, questioning, modelling correct pencil grip, and giving compliments.
Classroom C Vignette
Bright sun pierces the classroom of a class of older students in their English lesson next door. Here the students are using a textbook and have been reading a short piece of text in English which describes a boy named Elliott. On the screen at the front of the room, the data projector is used to present a set of questions, to which the students are to record their answers on sticky-notes. The teacher enlists a mix of Croatian and English as she instructs the students to complete the exercise in their textbooks (writing the answers to the questions in sentences using English), and then to use English to discuss the story with a peer. As the tables are set in a U shape, the teacher listens and moves through the space in the middle, listening as the students speak in pairs. Lastly, the students are asked to check their understanding against the learning intention and success criteria on the board.
Classroom D Vignette
As the sun streams through tall windows in the classroom, a recently graduated teacher works with eight grade two and three students. The classroom is large in size and set up with two grouped tables of four desks each at the front of the room. At the other end, an open space allows seating on a rug on the floor in front of a large interactive screen. At first, the grade two children work in pairs on tablets, wearing earphones and watching a video. Prior to this, the teacher has given the students some promoting questions relating to the choice of modes made by the video’s creator. These included questions such as: What kind of music has been used in the story? What does the music tell you about the character? The students are engaged in their task immediately. The teacher moves to work with the second group. These third graders are learning about the complexities of capital letters in Croatian punctuation. First, they complete examples from a textbook, with the teacher asking questions, providing feedback as they work. As soon as they have finished the exercises, the teacher invites them to the floor area and presents them with a code to an online quiz. Obviously skilled in this kind of task, the students take a tablet and have logged into the quiz within a few moments. Their eagerness is clear. The quiz assesses their understanding of the capital letters just practised. The teacher provides both positive reinforcement for correct answers and discusses incorrect answers with the students, showing a supportive and caring manner. All students are happy and engaged in the task.
School 2 consists of six different settings: one in the main campus and 5 small branch schools in the area. The school supports over 560 students, with almost 80 staff. The school has classes for students with special needs, led by teachers with expertise in supporting students with intellectual disabilities. Numerous projects and funding partnerships have been granted to the school, leading to upgrades of the school’s physical environments, changes in scheduling to increase time in physical activity, and the additional of vocational activities as just three examples. The school’s vision is to be a school of the future. The principal (P2) was optimistic that the reform will be successful because change was needed. P2 believed that students were different, and that teaching must adapt or “open doors” to the digital world for these students, rather than closing them.
A teacher at School 2 reported that the support and training that she had received was excellent. She felt free to try new ideas, including those that required financial support from the school. In the teams, she noted that some teachers still did not contribute which meant that others were covering the work that was needed. However, she gave credit to the principal for helping to make ideas realised, even though she still felt some “tensions” about who was to enact the changes. The teacher reported that improvements in classrooms were mostly in the areas of assessment and feedback. In terms of students, she felt that she expected more from the students because of the use of feedback, but also that students were now beginning to look for the feedback. Her observations led her to believe that the students were more motivated and expected more of themselves because they saw that she expected more from them.
Addressing teachers’ needs
According to P2, the teachers at School 2 have been working very hard to implement the reform, after initially being scared, unsupportive, and timid about the changes. P2 is extremely proud of the teachers in her school and mentioned that a number have received recognition from the Ministry for their work. Her aim was for the teachers to be happy in what they do. P2 believed that supporting teachers means having a clear vision, creating plans of action, and ensuring that the materials that are needed are available. She also noted that the creation of teams of teachers to support each other is important. These teams have been tasked with thinking critically about their work and to improve the quality of teaching and learning in their classrooms. P2 argued that the training that teachers have had through the British Council is working to empower the teachers, along with the support of the school’s pedagogue.
Autonomy and flexibility
P2 reported that the change in reform has meant a change to how she leads. She is now highly focused on gathering evidence that what she is doing is supporting the reform and her teachers. P2 has turned her focus to quality teaching and learning. This has meant that the previous focus on projects and associated funding grants has been put to the side for a time. As she stated, principals in the current context must return their focus to teaching and learning. P2 also argued that principals should be able to access training in ways to support the reform.
Adaptation of reform for the school’s context
P2 has included opportunities for teachers to engage in collaborative professional development in the school as a way of ensuring the reform is being implemented in a meaningful way. The teams were to ensure that the teachers were better connected with each other, and this involved collaborative planning of teaching and learning, peer observations and feedback. Once a month, the teachers meet and take turns to present examples of good practice. This involves the examination of planned outcomes, assessment used, digital tools involved, and reflection on what could be improved. P2 also aimed to create a community of sharing by working with staff at other local schools and branches.
Classroom A Vignette
The 2nd grade class is investigating light and heat energy. They work in groups with a task that prompts them to decide which type of energy is being generated by different objects. Each group reports their findings back to the class and the teacher uses verbal and non-verbal feedback to extend their ideas and ensure they understand the correct answer. Next the students work in pairs with tablets to complete an online quiz that revises the information they have explored in the lesson. The teacher allows excited discussion to take place as they decide on an answer, and then joins in the celebratory sounds when the answers are correct. When the students argue for the answer they have given, providing evidence why their answer should be counted as correct, the teacher agrees and a small discussion about this occurs. The students enjoy the conversation, having given a justification and being rewarded by the teacher. Lastly, the teacher uses formative feedback from ‘traffic lights’ so that the students can reflect on their perceived level of understanding.
After hearing that the new curriculum would involve increased autonomy, Principal 3 (P3) asked her school’s teachers to vote on whether they should apply to become involved in the reform. In previous years, the school had trialled other types of projects that involved providing a greater level of autonomy to the teachers, including the reorganisation of subjects into periods where blocks of learning take place, and decreasing the number of subjects that students undertake. Now this large secondary campus is a place where the principal leads teachers in the second year of the reform. P3 was adamant that change was needed for “a different generation who are fast and clever, and who need to know how to learn”.
Addressing teachers’ needs
One challenge that P3 recognised is that while Croatian teachers are accepting more and more autonomy, in some instances they are still asking for “recipes”, worrying that without them they may “fail or do something wrong”. She commented that historically, “they have always been supervised and now they are not brave enough to feel that they have a point of view, without being given guidelines. There is a level of insecurity”. She has observed that her teachers have been supportive of the reform training, working online to complete the tasks related to the new curriculum. P3 believed that the online training and face-to-face workshops have motivated the teachers to talk about their teaching. She noted that although some teachers are still a little confused about the autonomy required, they are still working to address this. P3 cited the training provided by The British Council as a main source of assistance in developing the teachers’ visions and aims relating to new education directions.
Teachers at this school described the principal’s work in implementing the reform as professional and supportive, though also mentioned there were still some inaccessible resources they required. One teacher mentioned that the monthly meetings with other colleagues was helpful, creating a good atmosphere within the staff. Another teacher described seeing the pupils liking and responding positively to the reform. One teacher noted that the positives of the reform far outweighed any of the negatives and that the school now felt like a dynamic place. The principal is supporting of the teachers, telling them that they need to decide what is best, through their own analysis and evaluation of the situation, but with the support of others in a school.
Autonomy and flexibility
P3 believed in spending an equal amount of time supporting both teachers and students, and sees herself as a supporter, a communicator, a motivator. She sees herself as being responsible for taking the risks. According to her, all principals should now be more focused on teaching and learning, working with teachers, and influencing the pedagogies used in their school. She commented that principals who think they are managers need to change, to be more pedagogically orientated to not only bring money into the school. P3 asserted that it is important for principals to work together, mentoring less experienced colleagues as they begin the process of the reform. In her view, more attention needs to be given to principals in the roll out of the reform, additional training provided in terms of their knowledge and understanding of pedagogical change. While accepting that teachers were the necessary focus at the beginning of the reform, she sees principals as key to any further change.
Adaptation of reform for the school’s context
The school now holds regular meetings once a month where teachers meet with the principal to discuss teaching and learning. These conversations include what is going well and what can be done better. As this school enters its second year of the reform, the principal has noticed changes, including the increased use of formative assessment for student learning. She has observed small groups of teachers talking about what they do with the curriculum, showing their preparation and contemplating the changes they have made between the old and the new. According to the principal, the teachers are increasingly knowledgeable about what they need to do, with much of this is due to the support they are receiving from colleagues. She has seen a big difference in the teachers, who are more open to feedback and criticism. She noted, “They’re doing more learning. They’re not scared about having open classrooms where observations by peers take place. And there are more effective discussions about the students”. She has also found that when she speaks to students, they are more able to talk about how they are learning, rather than simply reporting collecting facts.
Classroom A Vignette
The teacher of this class of 2nd level students in the secondary school says that they enjoy working in groups. In this mathematics lesson, the teacher uses an online tool to have the students match a concept and a definition. All students are engaged and working collaboratively. A group without a device uses a paper version of the matching activity. The teacher then checks their understanding through questioning, discussing each definition and concept in the activity to ensure they are understood. She gives clear, short instructions and the students begin working on the main task in their groups. The teacher’s observations appear accurate, as the students’ engagement in the group work is evidenced in the way they work.
Classroom B Vignette
In this chemistry lesson, the teacher has organised the students into groups and the materials for an experiment sit neatly on the tables. Using a data projector at the front of the room, the teacher explains the steps in the procedure they will undertake. The groups begin to work, discussing and taking turns to complete the steps. The teacher moves around the room, stopping to give feedback, to question why something has not worked, prompting the students to try the step again. She gives encouragement through verbal comments and non-verbal gestures such as smiling and nodding encouragingly. It is clear that the students are to come to the conclusion through their own inquiry, rather than by being given the answer. As the students work, laughing and happy, the teacher comments that while group work was something she has always done, the reform has focused her attention on the need for formative assessment. The school, she says, has been supportive of any new ideas that she has wanted to try.
Classroom C Vignette
The lesson on rock formations begins with a set of learning intentions which the teacher explains to the students. The teachers uses the teaching strategy of direct instruction with skill and confidence. Information is provided, then the students are questioned, given tasks, and prompted to make connections between this new knowledge and content they have already learned. The use of multiple modes of presentation assists in keeping the interests of the students. The teacher uses images, labels, maps, and short video clips to carefully scaffold the learning. Although this is a teacher-focused lesson, the use of teaching materials, questioning, and carefully scaffolded tasks keeps the students engaged. They look at the teacher, they listen, and participate in the lesson with enthusiasm.
Classroom D Vignette
The history teacher is expressive and knowledgeable. He uses maps, images, and models to teach the students about different structures in ancient Egypt. The students laugh when he holds up a model of the Sphinx and say, “I made this last night”. He uses the data projector to give a quiz and invites individual students up to answer. He tells the students that he will send them the link to the quiz so that they can practice in their study time. The teacher uses humour and encourages those who do not appear confident. It’s clear that the students feel safe to try in this class. He provides a great deal of information, keeping the pace very fast. The students then complete an exercise in their books. The lesson concludes with questions, reviewing the content of the lesson.
Optimism and Support
The findings of this research suggest that mentors and principals are very supportive of the reform and are highly optimistic about the continuation and success of the curriculum implementation in Croatian schools. Both mentors and principals recognise the need for change from traditional teacher-focused pedagogies to those that are more student-focused, citing the need to use pedagogical approaches aligned with the needs of contemporary students, as well as preparing students for today’s world. Although cautions for false change are often raised about reform (see Fullan, 1993), the mentors and principals seem to believe that there are clear differences between the old and the new, in both teachers’ practices and wider school contexts.
The Importance of Lifelong Learning
For both mentors and principals, the training provided by The British Council was central to the confidence they felt in supporting teachers to implement the reform. Mentors also found the teams within which they worked were considerably important in raising their confidence and knowledge when supporting teachers. For principals, there was a recognised desire for continuing training, as they felt that the previous focus on teacher training needed to be expanded to encompass their roles as well. The findings also highlight the complexity of reform implementation for these key participants. Mentors were both encouraged and challenged by some of the teachers that they worked with in their roles. As a result, an ongoing challenge for mentors was the need for their own continued learning, alongside their support for teacher mentees. All mentors acknowledged that, although they felt confident in their knowledge for supporting teachers to implement the curriculum, they were also constantly learning themselves. Potential benefits for mentors, as a result of the mentoring process, has been identified in the literature, including an increased sense of self-worth, personal satisfaction, and self-reported increases of their own learning and development (see Hagger & McIntyre 2006; Hobson, Ashby, & Malderez, 2009). Mentors also acknowledged a kind of reciprocal relationship of learning (Achinstein & Barrett 2004; Gless 2006), where they learned from the exchange of ideas generated when working with their mentees.
An important skill for mentors is the ability to create increasingly trust-worthy environments (Clutterbuck, 2005) within which mentees see themselves as valued and supported (Kahn, 1993). A previous challenge for mentors, that of the virtual learning environment’s accessibility and use, seems to have improved greatly since the previous data was gathered. The mentors found that larger numbers of teachers were now participating in this space, through the posting of questions and the submission of tasks that were then graded and given feedback by mentors. These spaces appear to have evolved characteristics of professional enquiry that have seen some positive effects (see Drew, Priestley, & Michael, 2016), such as highly structured shared sense-making (Pyhältö, Pietarinen, & Soini, 2018). These spaces also appear to be supportive of teachers’ relational needs, where teachers have others to support them in their learning (Priestley et al., 2015). The continual dialogue between mentors and teachers, within the virtual space, appears to support the requirement of a dialogic environment for supporting teachers’ sensemaking of curriculum and change (Ketelaar, Beijaard, Boshuizen, & Den Brok, 2012). Clutterbuck (2005) suggested a number of mentor competencies for each phase of the mentoring relationship. Themes that emerged from the interviews with mentors and were supported by the questionnaire data show the mentors’ competencies related the what they call the building rapport phase, such as: active listening, empathising, giving positive regard, offering openness and trust to elicit reciprocal behaviour, identifying and valuing both common ground and differences.
Challenges for Principals
Many challenges have been identified in research surrounding educational change and reform (Duke 2004). The principals in this study found that their initial challenge of enlisting teacher support for the reform had lessened, however there were new challenges during implementation that were connected with their changing roles as principals. All three principals mentioned the need for change from being principals who are managers, to becoming principals who are focused on leading teaching and learning. Whitaker (1993, p. 102) states that leading change in reform successfully is “the capacity to give deliberate attention to the building and development of an organizational culture conducive to collaboration, participation and change”. These three principals have shown obvious ‘deliberate attention’ to the reform, through the creation of teacher teams, the provision of resources for innovation, the generation of projects, and the participation in training in relation to the reform. Each principal described a highly focused attitude through shared vision and understandings of the reform, which is seen as imperative to creating a successful context of change (Fullan, 2001).
Earlier findings relating to a lack of expertise in educational management in Croatia and the importance of professionalisation of school principals’ role appear to have been mitigated in the cases of these three principals. After engaging in a training program developed by The British Council, each displays an energetic, professional, and resourceful attitude to the reform. All principals identified this training as being important to their leadership, while also identifying areas they felt still needed attention in their developing knowledge bases. Areas raised included economics and budgeting, public relations, and handling critical situations.
Changing Teachers’ Practice
The complication of a curriculum that demands high levels of autonomy and accountability was identified by the mentors. The mentors described encounters with teachers who were worried both about who would tell them what to do, and how they were to evidence student learning using the new curriculum. A recommendation for supporting reform that both demands autonomy and accountability (Priestley & Minty, 2013; Ormand, 2013) like the current Croatian framework, is the development of nuanced understandings of the concepts in the curriculum (Priestley & Ireland, 2019). The work undertaken by the mentors in this study, including the individual feedback and support to teachers, appears to support this recommendation.
Achinstein and Athanases (2006, p. 2) noted that potential problems could arise for mentors, whose limited access to sustained professional development led them to focus on the status quo and simple survival within the mentoring relationship, rather than what they called “ambitious educative aims”. Perhaps due to the consistent and sustained training in the Croatian mentors’ environment, all mentor discussion was on the promotion of robust ideas about teacher learning and development. Unlike Achinstein and Athanases’ findings, where mentors took on a ‘reductive’ approach with ‘quick-fix’ solutions being prioritised, the Croatian mentors were highly focused on building mentee knowledge and skill building in real world, collaborative tasks, with highly personalised feedback being provided to the teachers. As opposed to more deficit-type approaches, the mentoring environment in Croatia appears to be an ‘educative’ form, where mentoring focuses on a vision of “good teaching” and inquiry into principled teaching practice by mentors (Norman & Feiman-Nemser, 2005, p. 608).
Acknowledgements: We wish to thank the entire British Council team in Zagreb, and particularly Rosana Besednik, for facilitating the fieldwork in Croatia in such an exceptionally efficient and helpful way.
MENTORING FOR EFFECTIVE CURRICULUM REFORM – FOR MENTORS
How competent do you feel in helping teachers develop the following? Circle one answer, from 1 to 5.
1 = not competent at all
2 = basic
3 = capable
4 = proficient
5 = expert
|How competent do you feel in helping teachers develop each of the following?||Not competent||Basic||Capable||Proficient||Expert|
Working towards learning outcomes
|Setting clear activity outcomes based on the national curriculum||1||2||3||4||5|
|Covering subject knowledge and skills based on the national curriculum||1||2||3||4||5|
|Covering cross-curricular topics based on the national curriculum||1||2||3||4||5|
|Planning lessons and activities based on the developed activity outcomes||1||2||3||4||5|
|Ensuring that students are able to meet activity outcomes||1||2||3||4||5|
|Using formative assessment data and providing relevant and timely feedback||1||2||3||4||5|
|Providing opportunities for students to practice||1||2||3||4||5|
|Applying assessment for learning strategies continuously to monitor students’ learning progress and to inform subsequent teaching (formative assessment)||1||2||3||4||5|
|Promoting assessment for learning strategies like self-assessment and peer-assessment for students to inform their learning||1||2||3||4||5|
|Applying assessment for learning strategies to measure individual student mastery and to conduct local, national and international comparisons (summative assessment)||1||2||3||4||5|
|Reflecting on the appropriateness and effectiveness of chosen assessment strategies in order to improve assessment for learning, as learning and of learning||1||2||3||4||5|
Managing learning to learn
|Helping students apply learning and information management strategies||1||2||3||4||5|
|Helping students plan, monitor and evaluate their learning strategies||1||2||3||4||5|
|Helping students manage their emotions and learning motivation||1||2||3||4||5|
|Helping students create a suitable physical and social environment which stimulates and promotes learning||1||2||3||4||5|
Support problem solving
|Demonstrating the value and importance of problem solving skills to students||1||2||3||4||5|
|Selecting appropriate problems for students to solve for your subject and cross-curriculum topics||1||2||3||4||5|
|Ensuring that students have access to relevant resources for solving the given or selected problem||1||2||3||4||5|
|Providing sufficient support to improve students’ application of problem-solving strategies
Teaching with autonomy
|Deciding on activity outcomes aligned with the principles of the comprehensive curriculum reform||1||2||3||4||5|
|Deciding on appropriate teaching methods aligned with the principles of the comprehensive curriculum reform|
|Using a variety of pedagogical approaches to include all students||1||2||3||4||5|
|Deciding which resources to use to help students meet activity outcomes||1||2||3||4||5|
|Taking responsibility for one’s own professional development, based on needs, interests and preferences||1||2||3||4||5|
|Collaborating with colleagues to establish and meet shared objectives and pedagogical approaches (through team meetings, coaching, classroom observations, etc.)||1||2||3||4||5|
|Co-planning of topics, lessons and activities (including outcomes), for your subject and cross-curricular topics||1||2||3||4||5|
|Establishing inclusive, safe and inviting learning environments||1||2||3||4||5|
|Developing learning resources and teaching materials collaboratively||1||2||3||4||5|
|Reflecting on the established shared objectives; topics, lessons and outcomes, to further improve teaching and learning in school||1||2||3||4||5|
Knowing the subject
|Teaching the subject, using a solid understanding of the subject content||1||2||3||4||5|
|Using pedagogical content knowledge in teaching, i.e. knowledge about how to teach your subject||1||2||3||4||5|
|Using effective teaching strategies to teach the subject knowledge and subject specific skills||1||2||3||4||5|
|Introducing generic skills in the subject, and integrating application of subject knowledge and skills in cross-curricular topics||1||2||3||4||5|
|Helping students overcome common difficulties and misconceptions in your subject||1||2||3||4||5|
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