Saturday, 25 June 2016

Passion Learning for Teachers

Having attended a number of PLD events over the last few weeks, I have been pondering my own 'passions'. While I thoroughly enjoy my current role teaching 'little people', I have found that one of my passions still endures: Supporting other educators to transform their practise. This starts with sharing information about PLD events with others, encouraging others to attend events I think they would find useful, with trying to make myself available for others who would like support from me, to submitting proposals and presenting at events. Due to a lack of time I have heavily reduced my participation in online communities, creation and sharing of resources, as well as blogging and I do miss these aspects - but there are only so many hours in the day, and my little people and my family have to come first:)

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It has been interesting to observe who participates at various events:
There are still many teachers out there who are 'new' to digital tools and the pedagogies required to transform learning for their students. This is not saying that in the past no teachers have adapted to meet the needs of their students, or that they have not had their students' best interests at heart. I am passionate about using digital tools in a way that we transform our students' learning experiences - though I am not necessarily the best example of putting this into practise myself (I have said before, I seem to be more of a 'do as I say, not as I do' person...).
I have encountered teachers I would regard as more experienced or experts in using digital tools in order to transform learning at these events; in most cases they would be presenting at such events. But what other avenues are there for them? Where do those teachers get their PLD who are already experienced / experts (gifted?) in this area? Where can I get my PLD fix?

While I know that every teacher has many areas they need to be confident in (and I have many areas I need to work on), when we compare teacher learning with student learning, we have moved away from the deficit theory of telling our students to only worry about the areas they are not good at. We want our students to follow their passions while we help them build up the areas they are less confident in. What does this look like in teacher PLD?
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I am wondering if we can learn from the classroom when we look at teacher PLD (I have previously written here about how I don't think I applied enough of what I used to tell my teachers in my work with them). Let's assume we have a technically confident future focussed teachers looking to further their passion for this, what are we offering them? Just like in the classroom, teachers have different needs, so considering UDL we might want to offer them Multiple Means of Engagement (why), Multiple Means of Representation (how) and Multiple Means of Action and Expression (what of learning). What could this look like at a f2f event I wonder? Could we design workshops and sessions around these principles rather than a one-size-fits-all present approach, and what might this look like? How can we incorporate asynchronous, digital learning with this?

I have had some of my proposals to present accepted for the NZLA Conference and for Ulearn16, and I am really keen to make these sessions applicable to as many learners with different needs as possible. I have previously attempted to incorporate UDL into my presentations, (e.g. my Supporting UDL with GAFE presentation at Ulearn14, see post here).  This could be my starting point for how to design my sessions for later this year. I am also interested to see how this might further influence what we already do in our y2&3 ILE classroom.

The question remains though: How do we ensure that teachers can push their passions further? And where can I learn more about this?

I asked the wonderfully knowledgable +Hazel Owen for some advice around it, and she wrote:
The interesting thing is - there isn't (as far as I know) that much research / papers out there that look into this specific subject. Rather the research is around:
  • personalised, tailored learning, 
  • teaching as inquiry, 
  • action research in teaching, 
  • Continuing Professional Development (CPD), 
  • (online) communities of practice, 
  • PLEs, and 
  • mentoring / coaching for teachers' / education leaders' PLD.
In the holidays I plan to start reading more on this topic. If you regard yourself as confident or an expert in a particular area, but still passionate about learning more about that same area, how do you go about this? I would love to hear from you :)

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