Balancing internal and external expertise in professional learning

I’ve spent a number of days recently in a couple of schools where I’ve been working with school leaders and staff for an extended period of time now, assisting them with their strategic visioning and planning, and in coaching and mentoring staff leading their in-school¬†professional learning programmes. I find this highly satisfying and rewarding work – and it reminds me of just how complex the setting of a school is, and ¬†how important it can be to have a variety of perspectives included in the process of designing and implementing an effective PLD programme that will (a) help a school … Continue reading Balancing internal and external expertise in professional learning

What makes for effective PLD?

At a meeting I attended last week a group of people were discussing approaches they might use to 'bring teachers up to speed' with the ideas and approaches they were discussing (in this case, computational thinking). The discussion that ensued raised all of the usual issues around why it's difficult to find effective PLD solutions: teachers are time poor, the overloaded curriculum, lack of expertise, reluctance to change etc. When turning their attention to finding a solution the predictable list appeared: provide more teacher only days (TODs), introduce a range of incentives (carrots), introduce mandatory requirements (sticks) etc. The discussion also … Continue reading What makes for effective PLD?

Developing Great Teaching

My earliest experiences of professional learning and development (PLD) tended to be short courses focusing on introducing a new skill, strategy or technology. I can remember as a young teacher being 'sent' to courses on how to use an overhead projector, or how to use simulation activities in social studies classes. Sometimes these things were useful to me when I returned to the classroom, other times they were more 'just in case' courses, simply provided because the opportunity was there.  Since the time I began as a teacher the expectations of teachers have increased, and so to have the expectations of … Continue reading Developing Great Teaching

Innovating to create 21 century learning environments

 The International Summit on the Teaching Profession is under way this year in Banff, Canada, with a contingent of NZ educators attending. Last year I had the privilege of attending this event when it was held here in NZ, and it provided a a great opportunity to hear from a variety of international 'experts' and leaders from a range of countries in the OECD.  Among them was Andraes Schleicher who is the OECD's director of the Directorate of Education and Skills, and the person most will associate with the research behind the PISA results. He is also author of a … Continue reading Innovating to create 21 century learning environments

Thinking about engagement…

It's official… excellent teachers, supported by gifted and visionary school leaders, keep students engaged in the learning process and hopeful about their future. These are two of the crucial outcomes the recent Gallup Student Poll measures. I was speaking with a school principal yesterday who is working to develop his school's strategic focus for next year. Placing student achievement as the overarching priority for the school, his focus moved to student engagement as the critical success factor for the cohort in his school. Our discussion then moved to what the indicators of engagement might be that he and his staff could … Continue reading Thinking about engagement…

Defining success

I was working with the staff of a local secondary school yesterday, and in the context of our discussion we shared our thinking around the question of 'what is success?' in relation to the purpose of school and schooling, and the focus on assessment that currently dominates much of the thinking in our school system and drives most of our curriculum design and delivery. We were specifically thinking about the issues raised in the NZCER publication, "Swimming out of our depth" where the authors suggest… "We need to think differently about what schools are for, about what students should learn in … Continue reading Defining success

Connected Educator Month

One of the things I've had the privilege of contributing to in terms of the organisation is the upcoming Connected Educator Month which will launch here in New Zealand for the first time this year. My colleague Karen Melhuish Spencer (in the video above) has done an outstanding job leading the organisation from the NZ end.  Connected Educator Month began in the US two years ago, using online communities help educators share effective strategies, reduce isolation, and provide "just in time" access to knowledge and expertise. In 2013 nearly 200 educational organizations participated in Connected Educator Month in the US, providing … Continue reading Connected Educator Month

Motivating and retaining learners online

I've had the privilege of participating in the DEANZ conference, surrounded by a veritable smorgasbord of national and international experts in the field of open, flexible and distance learning.  This morning we had Curtis Bonk join us by video conference for a short presentation as a part of the SITE panel presentation on teacher education. Curt introduced us to the book that he has co-authored with NZer Elaine Khoo from Waikato University titled Adding some TEC-VARIETY – 100+ activities for motivating and retaining learners online.  This book has been released just today as a free download viat the TEC-VARIETY website. … Continue reading Motivating and retaining learners online