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.
“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” – Eric Hoffer
This is a quote that I have read, heard and seen adapted many times in presentations, on twitter and in blogs. I really don’t think there would be anyone who seriously believes that our world is not changing, or that the workforce our students enter will be identical to our own experiences. I don’t believe resistance to change is due to a disbelief, or denial that our world is changing. What I do believe is that many teachers are purely a product of the education system they are now a part of. Learning was remembering facts and equations and completing pages of questions or cloze writing.
Probably rarely encouraged to question or challenge an idea or concept in school, for many of us, it was probably not until University where we were asked for an opinion of our own or an opportunity to reflect upon our own learning. Many are more comfortable with delivering a prescriptive curriculum than being designers of curriculum. Just as our students are more comfortable doing the same because they know it has been successful in the past.
So how can we expect our teachers to be learners if they have never learned to learn?
We need to foster a culture where questions are inherent in the development process. By encouraging questions and encouraging being questioned as a leader, we can show that there is not one decisive best way to educate all students, to run a program or to implement a process. Through continually questioning what we are doing and why we are doing it, we can model to develop better ways.
Not knowing the answers is the first step towards taking a risk and if we are to prepare for tomorrow, today must be approached with openness and willingness to be critical (not critisisors) of ourselves and of each other.