Teachers as Learners
There is a lot of great research that advises us about what works best in good educational practice. Over the years, shifting philosophy has been embraced by many educators, as they have grown to better understand good practice and acknowledge that “one shoe” no longer fits all; that we need to assess student readiness, know our students more thoroughly and personalise learning to accommodate individual needs. Ultimately, we want to guide our students to develop and apply enduring understandings and personal skills that help them to manoeuvre their way through an increasingly complex and rapidly changing world. The challenge is to ensure that our teachers develop similarly; that they also continue to grow as people and that they actively become lifelong learners.
The school and system must be oriented toward risk-taking and inquiry. Just as students need hands-on applied learning rooted in inquiry, so, too, do teachers need powerful driving questions to push their work forward. “School systems must be able to interrogate themselves about the extent to which they create opportunities for teachers to learn and lead in ways that spread teaching expertise and improve student outcomes,” states Barnett Berry, Founder and CEO of the Center for Teaching Quality in North Carolina, USA.
Sir Ken Robinson claims, at Full Sail University in 2010, that growth is possible at any time in the video clip Teachers are Like Gardeners.
At CDNIS, we explicitly encourage and provide vehicles for such growth amongst our faculty as well as for our students. At any given time our teachers are working towards personal and professional learning goals, individually and in groups, to provide the best educational opportunities possible for our students. In order to do this, we take our own learning seriously and consciously focus on areas of interest as well as areas that cause some discomfort, as we follow our learning journeys.
Several of our staff members are currently studying for Masters degrees while others are developing knowledge about “Thinking and Learning in the Maker Centred Classroom” through Harvard Graduate School of Education. Many travel to locations, in Hong Kong and around Asia to attend identified workshops and conferences, provided by the International Baccalaureate and other leading educational facilitators.
In-school teacher development further supports growth by:
- Providing time for collaborative planning and sharing of ideas, successes and failures within teams each week.
- Individual Learning Leaders and Literacy and Maths point people meeting with the PYP Coordinators weekly, to discuss and plan curriculum development.
- Regular meetings where Learning Leaders and the Pedagogical Leadership Team participate in discussions and mini workshops which are then continued within teams.
- Time given for teaching teams to develop core sets of Learning Principles to implement and review as an ongoing process.
- Scheduled Monday afternoon sessions across the year given over to whole school professional development where faculty are able to broaden understandings across the vertical curriculum.
- Grade level lunchtime focus meetings; e.g. Pre-Reception and Reception teachers and assistants reading and discussing, “The Importance of Being Little” by Erika Christakis and Preparatory teachers participating in and discussing an online course about “Playful Literacy” by Lisa Burman.
Such is the desire to remain at the forefront of best practice, our teachers make time during lunchtimes, evenings and weekends for their study while continuing to plan and prepare for their very busy class schedules. By keeping up with research, forming professional communities with each other and counterparts elsewhere, CDNIS teachers are embracing lifelong learning and developing evidence of informed pedagogy.
Mindshift How we will Learn: 7 Qualities That Promote Teacher Leadership in Schools: Katrina Schwartz, March 16, 2016