Let’s Get Together


‘The Conversation’ – Dominic Wade via Flickr

I spent today at a professional development session on moderation for leaders.  Initially I was apprehensive that the day would be focussed on how we measure and rank students against the Australian Curriculum standards, however it became quite apparent early in the session that I was wrong! (Phew)

Instead the objective of the session was to explore how we can encourage collaboration to reflect and question our practice to ultimately improve learning opportunities for students. YAY!

For me PD is golden when I can interact with others passionate about improving practice and learn from their expertise and experiences.  No better way to find a group of such people than to attend a session on the last Friday of the holidays on a cold winters day, when it would be rather pleasant to be tucked up under a blanket reading a book and consuming hot beverages instead!

Not to be and definitely no regrets.

It was brilliant to hear from other curriculum leaders and lead teachers as to how they work with colleagues to reflect, critique and move forward in their planning and programming. The questions raised amongst the group included;

  • how do we develop a culture of trust required to share practice?
  • how do we establish opportunities to reflect and receive feedback without making it personal?
  • how can we develop a deeper understanding of the standards to enable teachers to be designers and not deliverers?

“One of the most powerful aspects of collaborative moderation is the dialogue…when you take part in it you see people in a different light…you hear people questioning their own practice, gathering strategies for change, making sense of standards, understanding the curriculum and adjusting their teaching for improved learning” – Alan Luke

I can talk about my practice until the cows come home, I love critical feedback and thrive with people challenging my ideas and practice and have written about this before.  I know how valuable this is to my own improvement, but what I am still developing, is my ability to facilitate a collaborative processes for peers to reflect and challenge their own practice and that of others in supportive ways.

Todays session has provided an example of how this could play out with a focus on planning and assessment with the Australian Curriculum.  I really look forward to seeing how this can be facilitated this term with the curriculum areas I support.


  1. George Couros (@gcouros)

    So here is a question for you…is there a time when collaboration can be detrimental when it is disguised as something else? For example, in the business world “meetings” are often seen as a joke as they are a way of avoiding “work”. I find a lot of times, collaboration is just going around and around in circles when there are no calls to action at the end, and no follow up. Learning from one another is great, but where is the action and accountability to those discussions? We spend a lot of time “learning” from the conversations, but for collaboration to be effective, should there not be something that comes out of it?

    I think we need to talk more about what comes out of collaboration both as educators and students. Learning is important but so is action.

    • rhonimcfarlane

      Thanks for your question George,
      I think you would understand me well enough to know that this is exactly the sort of thing that frustrates me and asking this question here gives me another opportunity to further develop/express my thoughts.

      It was actually one of the clear expectations of this workshop – how will you take this example and create an action in your own site? Writing this post and reflecting on my own thoughts (in isolation) to define how it could improve my own practice is part of this response. In terms of the talk and no action aspect in schools, I would definitely define this as “meeting” time whereas I actually see collaboration as coming together to achieve a solution/adaption/change/something new.

      I really focus hard to ensure every coming together that I organise for work purposes has:
      1. a reason in the first place (regular meetings have no place without purpose)
      2. information that can be read is shared beforehand and discussed only if necessary (no time wasting with sharing of info)
      3. a shared understanding of responsibilities (we record solutions and actions that need to occur so that everyone understands the aims of the actions we have decided together).

      I wrote about that here: https://rhonimcfarlane.com/2013/10/12/making-the-meeting-productive/

      Every learning opportunity I engage with, I want to be able to take something away and implement it almost immediately, whether it be a practice, an attitude or an approach. Just like when you came to our school and I started this whole blogging thing myself and then with my classes and now with our school 🙂

      Thanks for your comment it’s always great to have you as a critical friend!

  2. Pingback: Let's Get Together via @Gcouros | E-Learning-In...

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