The College has long recruited and will continue to recruit teachers who are expert in the classroom, have a passion for their subjects and are innovative, reflective and willing to collaborate and support their peers.
Armed with this knowledge, for a number of years now, the College has used one Professional Learning Day per year to run a series of workshops led by our own staff in order to share our very best practice and pass on effective skills and educational strategies to colleagues.
The intention of the day is to formalise something that we do informally every day – to share strategies, ideas and expertise – to ensure that we have the very best teaching and learning happening at the college.
The Professional Learning Day at the beginning of this term was ‘the day’ for 2017! The diverse range of workshops available to staff covered topics such as: Differentiation – an Academic Talent Development and English Faculty Collaboration, An introduction to Robotics, Teaching in a 21st Century Classroom, Effective Use of OneNote in the Classroom, The Male and Female Brain – Nothing versus Everything and Integrating Complex and Challenging Questions into Classwork. These are but a few!
As a staff, we do appreciate the support of our colleagues and as the co-ordinator of the day I, in particular, was grateful for how quickly the ideas for potential workshops come through once I had put out the request.
The workshops delivered on every level. One key learning point for College staff has long been that teachers must nurture and facilitate deeper thinking and the application of knowledge to generate understanding. Ultimately, we want students who are curious, sceptical, open-minded, strategic, metacognitive, reflective, truth seekers, inquisitive, responsible, independent, listeners, adventurous, inventive, original, creative, flexible, questioning, risk-takers, mindful, considerate, full of wonder, compassionate, balanced… and this list is not exhaustive! Helping us to continue to deliver in this manner was a theme for the day.
We also looked at what else we can do to assist learning in the classroom. A classroom needs ‘enculturation’ - creating a learning culture and hence enabling students to grow into an ‘intellectual life’. This is a key message of Ron Ritchhart from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Enculturation is a process of internalising the message and values that we repeatedly experience through our interaction with the learning environment. The teacher needs to assimilate the attitude to learning such that it becomes a part of the student’s nature. To assist with this, there needs to be identification of the message and values that surround the learning and then measures taken to ensure that they are both consistent and recurring. Mixed messages take more time to internalise and thus, the consistent use of language and the creation of an effective learning culture will accelerate the teaching and learning process. It is important to make sure the students in the class are aware of what good learning looks like in the classroom - how can we expect exemplary learning without an initial exemplar?
In conclusion, learning is a consequence of thinking. Students must ‘think’ with the content. They must be given time to, and expend energy, interacting with the content. Learning occurs at the point of challenge, thus at A.B. Paterson College we must continue to ensure that there is challenge for all students! We must also carry on making certain that thinking is valued, is actively promoted and regularly facilitated in the classroom.
You can see the full story in the next edition of Vision Splendid.
Richard Worsey – Director of Teaching and Learning