8 ways to get teachers talking about learning

2112440233_408c905b49_mWe are moving past the inertia of “the future of learning is different” discourse. We seem to be increasingly talking about how and not why, perhaps in some part fueled by government investment. It’s hard not to notice the Ruddy Revolutions (GFC avoidance) happening in schools.

Much of the orbital stuff is giving way to people seeking practical strategies and operational advice on how to implement, not if to implement. Yes there are laggards, but now there are laptops! We can move much more rapidly – if we want to. It is likely that the students are digitally literate in terms of procedural knowledge and skill with technology – but not in pursuit of academic goals. Their use of read/write and mobile remains ‘friend based’, yet public learning environments are oppositional to that idea. We have to learn about creating better scenarios for students, to build on their skills. This post is about how school executives can approach curriculum renewal.

Taking a retrospective view, looking carefully at existing units of work, allows us to consider alternative scenarios at the strategic level. All to often the PD focus is on the operational stuff – ‘how do I manage this; what tool do I need; do I have the time’. And teachers hate that stuff. Focus on the intellectual change; not the operational ones first. All you then need is a facilitator to help steer the department into deeper thinking, not skills training. The facilitators are ‘us’, so drop us an email, we can help YOU.

Consider asking departmental staff to help you evaluate an existing unit of work. They will be more inclined to do this, than learn about ‘tools’.

Questions that get people talking about learning might be …

  1. What are the performance problems … what skills need to be learned by students?
  2. What are realistic scenarios in which we can use this technology in our environment?
  3. What are the indicators of successful outcomes?
  4. What are the indicators of unsuccessful outcomes?
  5. What are the descriptions of successful and fail behaviors?
  6. What resources can assist us in improving the unit?
  7. What is that we know, that they need to know?
  8. What is that they can do, that we need to learn about?

A great PD day pulls units to pieces and realigning them with enquiry driven learning, augmented by available technology. During that day, you can introduce minimal and small Web2.0 tools. If they can’t use it in 10 mins, don’t talk about it. The first experience that teachers need is a familiar one; where they have an immediate win – and end the day talking about the design of learning being collegial. From that point you can start to develop their ideas into a professional development programme – without calling it PD.