Monday, 13 June 2016

Something (else) completely new - the follow-up.

Last Tuesday, for the first time ever, I presented a professional learning workshop to a group of teachers. Not from my school, but from 3 other local high schools in a combined schools professional learning day, so to an unknown audience. As I described last week, beforehand, I was feeling quite daunted by the whole thing, because it is quite different presenting to your peers from a position of equality than it is teaching a class of students.

In the end, as everyone told me it would, it went really well. I tried not to include too much (and skipped the part where I had written in orange to skip if I was running short of time) and had a mix of theory/information and practical activities. I followed my plan, and the timings I included seemed to be pretty realistic ...

Until it got to the bit where I was demonstrating how we do things here. In the best possible way, the workshop got hijacked at that point, because there were so many interesting and interested questions. The last half hour completely disappeared. 

In the same way that a sidetrack in class can be the best teaching you do, because of the engagement and questioning involved, that last half hour was probably the most productive in making my 'students' think about their own practice and how it might be modified. They were really interested in the practicalities; having accepted that change needs to happen in their own contexts, they really wanted to know how. I feel that I was helpful, both in initiating some of the thinking, and with providing the beginnings of answers. I know that I gave them plenty to take back to their own schools.

I also got lots of requests for access to the information sources I shared and the ideas, so I put together a slideshow which included everything. In hindsight, I should have done it beforehand, and used that to run the workshop, but that is definitely part of the learning curve. Having done this once, I definitely want to do it again.

Here is the slideshow I put together:

I think the main thing that I was trying to convey, and the most important idea for me anyway, is that modern learning doesn't necessarily need beautiful high-tech surroundings to happen in. In many ways, having this available to new schools is a deterrent to schools and teachers who are in traditional surroundings, as they feel the practice is tied to the environment. Modern learning practice is simply another way of thinking about the role of education and teachers, in that the focus is on the learning of the students, not the teaching of the teachers. Looking at the NZ curriculum and understanding what it really wants us as practitioners to do, and then looking for ways to do that, can take anyone in any environment forward; all it needs is the will to make that cognitive change.

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