Another of my favourite authors is David Geurin (you may have read the posts Passion or proficiency? or Teachers as warm demanders): his texts are sometimes controversial, but always encourage reflection. And this post, “What would happen you weren’t successful?”, seems a great find for the coming New Year and the plans we’re setting ourselves. There’s too little time and no enough resources to do everything, so how do you choose your priorities? David suggests thinking about the consequences of not doing what you have in mind. If nothing really horrible happens – well, then perhaps it’s not the biggest priority, and vice versa.
You must have heard of Communities of Practice before: it’s people doing something similar (not necessarily together), sharing knowledge and supporting each other. This literature overview by Catlin Tucker dots a few ‘i’s’ for me and yet brings up even more questions: a community of practice has to be something recognised by all its members, and there have to be some results, a repository of resources developed over time. So, when teachers form a community in the teachers’ room and share resources, is this a community of practice yet? Or should we provide a more formal structure for that, a way of communication, and some place to store and organise professional knowledge? (And when does an informal community of practice become too top-down for its members to enjoy?)
So, if you’re reading this, do you consider yourself part of a community of practice? How is it different for you from a group of people sharing a common interest?
To support a recent post about reflection followed by action, which was teacher-oriented, here is an interesting take on the same topic, but in a business environment. It’s by my favourite Dan Rockwell aka Leadershipfreak: a self-reflection ‘sandwich’ where reflection is just a thin layer of peanut butter between two hefty slices of action. He ends the post with a list of useful journal questions to reflect on the actions of the day, such as ‘What did I plan to do?’, ‘What actually happened?’, and ‘What do I really want?’. I’m almost tempted to cook a series of my own action-reflection-action sandwiches on this blog!
And here is something positive to get the new working week started. George Couros is thinking about the power of assumptions in education. When we assume that ‘Students don’t want to learn’ or ‘Teachers don’t want to change’, perhaps it would be better to say: ‘Students need us to acknowledge their current strengths and start from there?’ Or ‘Teachers would like to help their students, but they need a better understanding of how change can help them do it”?
Isn’t it true of many other things at work and in life in general?
There are countless articles and blog posts online about all the great opportunities for continuous professional development for Internet-savvy teachers. Lana’s post about ‘no size fits all’ CPD begins with a similar idea – yet there is a very important difference: she stresses the downsides or ‘pitfalls’ of each development path, e.g. online courses should be used selectively, reading won’t help if you don’t get rid of your hidden biases…
Very useful, especially when you start to panic that there is too much learning out there and no time to do it all!
When was the last time you had to write your lesson reflection? I remember staring at my blank screen for ages: how do I even start?.. After all those formal obs and post-obs, reflection seems a chore, and teacher journals a form of torture – unless you ask yourselves the right questions. Martyn Clarke’s post on the OUP blog can help you do just that.
There are five ready-made activities: about changes in your teaching, your ‘mistakes’ and successes, relationships with colleagues and even your emotions during the working week – and two sets of prompts: one to help you zoom in on the details of your experience and the other to encourage reflective thinking. Any of the tasks can be lifted off the page and carried into a peer professional development group, or a mentoring conversation, or a self-reflection journal. Easy and fun!
I’d probably start with my teaching mistakes, and you?
P.S. And for those who got to the end of this post, here’s a tiny plug for Martyn’s upcoming webinar on classroom research. He is my MA tutor, so I know it’s going to be good 😉