The Buzz of Teachers as Learners – It’s Electrifying

Co-Creator---Community-Post-with-Stamp

RG-085There is nothing cooler than the buzz of learning is there?  Especially when the learning happens because we are open to sharing ideas and we’re feeling safe enough to give opinion’s and with people we’ve only just met.  I really enjoyed working with the group of educators who gave up some of their time on the 20th April to listen to Matt and I share our plans for Reflect Growth’s software platform and engage in the co-creation of the engine that will drive it all.

As I was working with the team, it struck me that it was taking a little while for the people in the room to shift their thinking about learners from their students to themselves.  Every example I gave of progress or assessment brought back questions about how they might apply that with the students in their classroom.  What I wanted was them to think about themselves as learners on their own professional pathway and to understand that they should be applying those assessment and feedback skills to themselves.  It was very clear to me that not enough time has been given to these kinds of conversations and it was wonderful to hear people relishing the opportunity to grow in this way.  If you were there perhaps you’d like to share your thoughts on that.  How long do you think it took for you to think about how you could apply what I was saying to yourself versus your students?

We spent time looking at the AITSL documentation and considering the culture of peer observation.  Having shared my story as an educator in the British OFSTED system, we talked about how we are more than happy for our students to make mistakes, to get feedback and learn from them, yet when considering allowing our trusted colleagues to come and help us do the same, we get scared and are afraid of showing that we are keen to learn and develop.  There was a feeling that teachers are perfectionist and that unless we feel our ‘performance’ will be perfect in every way we don’t want anyone to see what we are doing.  I think we were all surprised at how anti-learning that sounded!  We spent a fair bit of time delving into that.

RG-019We also considered what our comfort zones might be.  I know, for example, that when looking at my professional development I will always be the first to volunteer to attend ICT PD.  That’s my passion. Does that PD choice reflect my areas of development or am I just heading to sessions which I know I will find interesting and am confident I can feel safe in? It’s OK to brush up your skills but if your PD is always around the same subject…. well that can’t be right can it?

After morning tea, we heard from @Matt about the software that we’re writing and we got some great feedback to validate that we’re on the right track.  We even got some new feature requests that are being built into the software’s use cases as we speak.

Once we got down to the teaching quality document,  the document that will help teachers to own and develop an idea of teaching quality that they can use to learn with, the conversation took on a whole new level.

“These are great – they are written in teacher speak.”

“I can see examples of what I need to do!”

“As a beginner teacher these are really helping me to create my philosophy of teaching”

People responded really well to what I had created (Phew!) There was some great feedback with elements of the scale moving around, extra pedagogies being added (and in some cases translated).  I can’t go into too much detail in this post – the co-creator group will be getting much more detailed feedback very soon. But I can tell you that I relished the opportunity to help teachers to see the meaning behind the standards,  behind why assessing ourselves can and will be a powerful tool.  Listening to the learning conversations that I recorded during the day has been a powerful learning experience for me too.  I will be using what I learnt to help me plan an even better Part 2.

What Did you Take Away From the Session?

I’ve asked all of the participants to feedback and tell me what their biggest “take-away” moments were.  Here are mine:

  • Teachers want to see themselves as learners of our profession, they want to feel supported to do so without fear of judgement or competition. They know that they will never stop learning (I know that’s one of the things that I personally LOVE most about being a teacher)
  • That there’s a massive focus on the Growth Mindset in our students but somehow, we’ve managed to distance ourselves from using it to strengthen our own skills as teachers.
  • It is important that we make much more time to share thinking and learning.  That these conversations deserve a slot on our weekly timetable. They are powerful.
  • The conversations we’re having in schools about the AITSL teaching standards seem to be ineffective in regards to personal learning and identification of strengths and areas for development.  That’s where Reflect Growth is going to make a huge difference

If you attended the PD session I would love to hear more about your ‘take-aways’, or even if you agree with anything I’ve written here!  Remember this is a safe place :)

Images From Our First PD Day
  • All of these beautiful images were taken by the very talented Hannah Grant from Captura Photography.  I can’t recommend her enough!  Check out her portfolio here.

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