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Wednesday, 9 December 2015

#EdBlogNZ #CENZ15 - MVP - Resource Category

Write about a classroom/teaching resource or online tool that your learners find really valuable. Explain how you use it, why you use it, and try to include some student voice (remember to think about privacy/anonymity).

This blog post should have been completed some time ago - before #CENZ15 ended.  I figured I am now in a state of better late than never!

What I will share is a resource that we are all seriously lacking in throughout the teaching profession anywhere in the world - TIME.  It does not quite meet the idea in the brief but I will argue it is important.

You need time to stop long enough and question your practice.  What are the things you do repeatedly?  Why do you do them? Where did they come from?  I have had a principal in the past ask me how I managed to lift the Literacy levels, particularly Reading, in my students so much in the short space of time that is a school year.  I had never stopped to consider the deliberate acts of teaching that led me there because I was too busy doing the job.  I had to take time to unpack the things I did, the reasoning behind it, what told me things were working and why I had moved away from the practices that did not.  Time - not easy to find that valuable resource.

You need to take the time to research current pedagogical theories.  What is behind the Modern/Innovative Learning Environments? Where did these ideas come from?  Is there research to say it works or is it a passing fad?  Isn't it just like the open plan classrooms we used to be in and moved away from in the past?  Time to locate the research, time to visit classrooms/schools using these practices and environments, time to trial some of the pedagogy even if you are still in a single cell classroom. Time.

You need time to play.  New technologies, apps, extensions, add-ons and tools are coming at teachers faster than they can hope to keep up with it.  In my experience it is best to start small and add to your toolkit as your confidence grows.  Feeling the fear and doing it anyway does not happen without a chance to take the fear from the level where they are petrified of everything that could (and in their minds will) go wrong down to a mild anxiety. That only happens when you have played enough to know you have got this.  Playing requires time.

You were initially encouraged and now told you need to make time to create a portfolio based on your teaching as inquiry. I was resistant to the need to do this at first - why spend time writing about what I was doing instead of just letting me reflect in my head and get on with the job?  The reality is that the more I stop and write my reflections, the deeper the questions arising from these and the more I find it important to make time to undertake the things I have listed above.

Has that improved my practice? Yes.  Is it worth finding and using the precious resource called time? Yes.

I would challenge those with the ability to create time to undertake the task of reflecting on practice in team meetings, CRT or other school based release times to make it happen.  Teachers are too tired if they are expected to leave this until other administratively more essential tasks are completed and will often give the questioning of practice only cursory consideration.  The PCTs would indicate that this is insufficient to meet the requirements to retain certification.  Deeper knowledge of practice and the opportunity to explore changing it can only come about when teachers feel it is valued as a practice within itself.  How do they know it is?  They are given this wonderful resource called time.

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