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Identifying Teacher Quality – a reflection toolbox for teachers and student teachers

From 2006 to 2009, the RDC has been involved in a EU funded Comenius project named Identifying Teacher Quality. The ITQ project aimed at developing reflection tools for teachers to reflect on their professional quality.

The aim of the project was to support teachers in Europe to strengthen their professional quality through the development of a toolbox with tools that enables teachers (and other stakeholders) to recognize, reflect upon and to evaluate teacher quality.

The results of the project are now available and can support teachers throughout Europe in raising their voice in national and European debates on teacher quality.

The main focus of the project was to develop tools for teachers to identify and to reflect on the concept of teacher quality. Underlying idea was that teacher quality is first and foremost an issue that should be defined by the professionals themselves, by teachers in the wide variety of schools in Europe.

Next to the reflection tools, the project has lead to a variety of interesting other outcomes through comparative studies on teacher quality as identified by teachers and by policy makers.

Project outcomes

  • The reflection tools are made available through the ITQ website and translated in eight different Euroepan languages,to support the implementation and use by teachers and teacher educators throughout Europe.
  • A comparative study show how formal national and European documents defining quality criteria that teachers have to meet, vary strongly. As a result a shared European language on the concept of teacher quality is missing.
  • A second comparative study shows that teachers emphasize personal attributes when defining teacher quality. Throughout Europe, teachers consider qualities like honesty, patience, empathy, creativity and humour as key elements in performances of teachers. Those qualities are hardly mentioned in national and Euroepan teacher standards.
  • The reflection tools have been tested in national and international pilots. The evaluations of the pilots have resulted in a evaluation report.
  • The full set of tools has been brought together in the design of a intensive course on teacher quality which can be used by teachers, student teachers and teacher educators.

All outcomes are published on the ITQ website and can be used free of charge by teachers, teacher educators and policy makers throughout Europe.

Added value

In the final report of the project, it is concluded that the project has an added value to the community of teachers and teacher educators:

  • First of all through the toolbox, a coherent set of reflection tools is made available to the community of teachers and teacher educators. Some tools are well known in some countries, some in others. Through the work of the project a varied set of reflection tools can be shared throughout Europe.
  • The toolbox stimulates reflection of (student) teachers on their professional quality, thus contributing to their quality awareness, stimulating their involvement in national debates on teacher quality, stimulating collaborative discourses within teams of teachers and the development of a shared understanding and definition of their professional quality and finally increasing their awareness of concerns of other stakeholders with respect to teacher quality.
  • The comparative research shows that a shared European language on teacher quality is still far away. At the same time, through the comparative research, the voice of the teacher with respect to teacher quality is raised. It shows that their opinions on essential elements of teacher quality differ in some fundamental aspects from the way in which teacher quality is defined in formal policy documents. The comparative research can contribute to the discussion how to bridge the gap between teachers’ opinions on teacher quality and that of policy makers.
  • The outcomes of the project can contribute to an increased ownership of teachers with respect to their professional quality and responsibility and an increased involvement in the discourse on teacher quality.

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