My teaching journey began in Brisbane at ACU and then we were transferred overseas. As long as I could continue to study education, I was happy. University of New England (Australia) allowed me to do just that. As an external student (2002) I had assignments due the same date as internal students and sat for the exams at the University of Washington (monitored by cameras). I completed a Bachelor of General Studies/Bachelor of Teaching with a major in Physical Education and minor in World Religions. We were living in Seattle and I completed my three practicums there. To be accredited by Washington State I needed to sit CSET & CBEST exams. With this completed I received my credential only to be transferred to California the following week. And guess what? California did not recognize Washington State certification.
In California, I had to get the World Education Services (New York) to evaluate my Australian teaching degree. A couple of hundred dollars later I received a GPA and my degree evaluation. With this, I applied to the Marin County Office of Education who eventually recognized my teaching qualifications and gave me credit for CLAD (Cross-Cultural Language and Academic Development). With this I was allowed to apply for teaching positions and once employed began my BTSA (Beginning Teacher Support & Assessment) course. This Californian mandatory course could be completed within two to five years. Through BTSA I met my mentor, Chris. We met weekly and attended workshops together. Although Chris was assigned to me and paid as my mentor, she became my friend and I still seek her advice today. Mentors are assigned to you and chosen outside of your school. I completed my Clear Credential and enjoyed the process and learnt a lot from Chris. While my Australian degree gave me a solid theoretical foundation, this framework and the mentoring program made me a more effective, reflective teacher.
Our school had its own salary system, the Teaching Excellence Program, where teachers demonstrated their effectiveness in five domains. Teachers applied for a band increase which was linked to salary. As a member of this committee I valued this system because if you were eager, enthusiastic and ambitious, it was recognized and you could advance. Your band and salary were not determined only by your years of experience but by your accomplished goals which were set by you and your supervisor. Not confined by your years of experience, all your accomplishments, be it academic, presenting, researching etc were acknowledged and resulted in a band and salary increase. Some teachers are content and satisfied staying in the same band but if you wanted to develop further, you were encouraged. While the salary was increased each year, if you moved bands, your increase was more substantial. I learnt I received a band increase and promotion the day I advised my Principal we were being relocated back to Australia.
Upon arriving back in Australia, I began the accreditation process once again. While I had two Australian education degrees, I hadn't taught in NSW before. This meant I was identified as a New Scheme teacher. So I had to go through a very similar process to California (but with no mentor) with the New South Wales Institute of Teaching (NSWIT). I completed this in nine months and received the highest teacher salary possible six months later. This particular system acknowledged my teaching degrees, child rearing experience, and US teaching experience. Now I was credentialed in two countries, three states.
Last year I changed schools and now find myself in another accreditation system. They acknowledge me as a teacher but only from the time I returned to Australia and received my NSWIT accreditation. While I accept accreditation and systems provide accountability and consistency, sometimes they may discourage teachers if we don't acknowledge postgraduate study or overseas experience. My CV reflects all the additional projects, research, degrees and learning experiences I accomplished both in the US and Australia. Systems need to acknowledge that effective teachers aren't only determined by time frames and experience in certain contexts but other accomplishments too. I can't seem to work the system and would like the system to work for me!