Illalong News

  • 13th November, 2017

The Professional Practice Learning Hub

A.B. Paterson College has a long and proud history of high academic achievement and will always remain committed to meeting the needs of its students. To ensure that we continue to meet these high academic standards, we need our new teachers to integrate quickly into the A.B. Paterson College teaching methodology, and for their lessons to reflect our research-based Teaching for Understanding Framework (TfU).

To guarantee that our new teaching staff, firstly understand our teaching pedagogy - based upon research emanating from Harvard University Graduate School of Education – and, secondly, are fully supported with its implementation in the classroom, the College instigated the Professional Practice Learning Hub.

The Learning Hub has been running for two years now and all new members of staff attend this as a part of their induction procedure. During this program, participants undertake learning activities and attend workshops that guide and develop their professional practice.

Professor Richard Elmore, from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in his paper, ‘Improving the Instructional Core’ states, ‘The level of content, skill and knowledge of teachers, and level of student engagement define a school’s instructional core.’ This is a key focus of the Learning Hub, and this ensures that we have effective practitioners in the classroom.

As Sanna Järvelä and K. Ann Renninger state in their paper, ‘Designing for Learning: Interest, Motivation, and Engagement, to design learning environments that foster deep learning’, it is important to implement three constructs: interest, motivation, and engagement. With the Generative Topic as a keystone of TfU and ingrained in our teaching pedagogy, the College works very hard to ensure that this is the case. Generative topics are issues, themes, concepts, and ideas that provide enough significance, connections, and variety of perspectives to support students' development of deep and sustainable understanding.  Authenticity of learning tasks is another vital component. To prepare students for life outside of school, we need to develop children who can make meaning of their learning and understand the rationale behind each lesson, project or assignment. Research at Canterbury Christ Church University has found that placing, ‘each learner’s personal quest for meaning at the heart of curricular and pedagogical decisions, is likely to generate the resilient communities needed to face a future of unimaginable challenge and change.’

As mentioned, a research-based pedagogy has always been a foundation of what we do here at the College; indeed, it was a fundamental reason for integrating TfU into our classroom practice over 20 years ago.

Again as mentioned, however, we do need to ensure that this is delivered to our students in the classroom on a daily basis.

Participants in the Learning Hub work with an Instructional Coach and review specific aspects of their teaching practice. There will also be discussions and the development of professional practice, teaching and learning principles and the attendance at a series of workshops based upon the College’s vision of excellence in the classroom. These workshops consist of a diverse but vital range of themes, including such diverse but important topics as:

  • Cutting edge knowledge and expertise;
  • Differentiation: learning spaces, mode of delivery, resources, assessment, fluid grouping;
  • Student-centred learning: Inquiry-based and contemporary skills- collaborative, innovative thinking and creativity;
  • Positive classroom management: engagement, challenge, support;
  • Reflective, evaluative feedback loops to engender constant improvement.

The overall aim of the College’s Professional Learning Hub is to raise the standards of teaching and learning within the College through collaboration between high quality practitioners, to enable personal reflection, and to develop an understanding and appreciation of the role of an A.B. Paterson College teacher in delivering excellent teaching and learning. A fine aim which, with the advent of the Professional Learning Hub, has been made a reality!

Richard Worsey
Director of Teaching and Learning


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