Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I'm having a learning!

I am reading the best evidence synthesis on professional development:

Timperley, H., Wilson, A., Barrar, H., & Fung, I. (2007). Teacher professional learning and development: Best evidence synthesis iteration. Wellington: Ministry of Education

I absolutely love this illustration in the forward to the synthesis by Carolyn English. It sums it all up... I'm having a learning.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Making change happen

I have been running professional development for teachers for a while now and I was thinking about the four types of teachers I usually work with.
1. The excuse maker
2. The holiday maker
3. The dream maker
4. The change maker

The excuse maker is the teacher who cries, ‘this is the way we’ve always done it’! I have seen these innovations come and I have seen them go, they are just the same old thing with a different name. What I have been doing has worked well enough and I’m not about to change now.

The holiday maker is the teacher who grabs hold of any and every new idea and zealously implements it. Then after a while returns ‘home’ back to business as usual. These teachers do not embed the theory behind the practice and therefore the practice doesn’t stick.

The dream maker is the teacher who understands the theories behind new ideas but does not implement them, doesn't know how to make the dream a reality. This teacher may purport to believing in collaborative structures but this is not evident in their room. This teacher may not be aware that their actions do not back up their beliefs or they just might not know how to align the two.

The change maker is the teacher who successfully aligns their beliefs with their practice. They see the value in new ideas for the learning of their students and set about making changes to their practice based on reflection and research.

These are the teachers I come across in my travels and the ones that I try to help engage with ICT and see its value for their students’ learning. Since I have become aware of these traits within the teachers I can see how to work with teachers more effectively.

Can you see yourself in any of these categories? I know that I can see bits of each of them in myself throughout my time as a teacher. What I want to know now is how to help everyone become a change maker, to make thoughtful changes based on learning needs which embed both theory and practice.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Art of Facilitation

This past week I have been at the Art of Facilitation course run by Joan Dalton and David Anderson of PLOT PD.

This amazing course delivers exactly what the title suggests, a very good grounding in the elements of effective facilitation. It is intensive and I feel as though I have been through five days of therapy! I have had a major 'aha' moment during the course as I reflect on myself as a facilitator. This is the fact that there is often a long distance between perceptions and reality, or to put it another way, our actions may not reflect our learning theories.

I hold to a constructivist and co-construction theory of learning with connectivity theory thrown in for good measure. In other words, to put it simply, I think we construct our realities through our interaction with others and the world around us. With this as my perception you would think the reality would be that I facilitate learning with my adult learners by helping them construct their learning and engage in opportunities to learn with, thru and from others. I have found however that my perception and reality do not meet. To be honest I have considered myself as the expert giver of knowledge, fixer of problems, motivator of action and basically indispensable help on hand. My actions do not support my beliefs.

The best thing about this week with Joan and David, exploring the aspects of effective facilitation is that I have aligned my actions with my beliefs. I have put a plan in place to ensure I foster independence in my adult learners to encourage sustainability in their learning. My role is to help people find the treasure that exists deep within, to explore their own expertise and enhance that.

I'll let you know how I get on ...