One size fits all fits…nobody?

Photo credit: Stephan van Es

We’ve run three Professional Learning sessions so far at Marsden. And, considering that there’s only 12 sessions in total, that’s actually a significant proportion. So, how’s it going?

Anecdotally, the feedback seems to be positive. We’re in the process of crafting a survey for the final session of the term, which should give us some more ‘concrete’ data from which to ascertain reactions. But overall, I would say I was feeling fairly positive, given the scope of the task in front of us. The school is, by and large, a fairly traditional one. Our students gain excellent results, which, in my opinion, makes it harder to convince staff that there is a pressing need to change our pedagogy and embrace the potentialities of e-learning. I think it would also be fair to say that, by and large, staff are reticent to explore technology. We have had our Learning Management System (LMS) for three years now, and staff turnover considered, there are still some teachers who don’t know how to set up their own class page. The professional learning sessions are presented to pre-school, primary school, co-ed secondary school and single-sex girls’ secondary school staff. So the fact that there are staff who admit they need to ‘get on board’, and there are staff who are starting to get excited about what’s out there, is good.

And then there are the staff who feel that it’s all a waste of their time as they already have sufficient technological know-how.

I find this criticism both useful and fascinating. Firstly, I’m very pleased that there are already educators in the school who have glimpsed what is possible and who want to learn more about pedagogy, because they feel comfortable in going away to play with tools themselves. At the same time though, the idea that the sessions being offered don’t cater to them doesn’t sit so well with me.

Perhaps what we’re seeing is this: an implementation dip (thanks to @GeoMouldey via @mosborne01 and @mcleod). Staff were initially intrigued and inspired by future learning, but then we hit mid-term, and the internal assessments have started, and the first wave of marking has come in, and we’re heading towards our first set of parent-teacher interviews, and, and … and, suddenly the time pressure is on and it all seems huge and scary and overwhelming.

I feel as though the model we’re following (20 minutes of big picture pedagogy and vision, 20 minutes of workshop – self-selected from at least 3 possible choices, 20 minutes of reflection) allows for a wide range of interests and skill levels to be catered for. We have actively encouraged staff to offer more workshops if they’re keen to do so. The presentations for the pedagogy and vision include loads of links for further exploration and learning. I’ve been tweeting (or, perhaps more accurately, re-tweeting) yet more links to useful and relevant sites and readings using the hashtag #MarsdenPL14. I actively promote #edchatnz Twitter chats and its blog.

This all sounds very defensive from my end, I guess. But I think it begs the question: at what point should learner educators be expected to take some responsibility for their own professional learning needs, and/or what more should we be doing to meet the needs of the learner educators in front of us?

Marsden Professional Learning Session 3

Today’s theme: Technology allows for personalised learning

I’m definitely becoming more comfortable with presenting to the whole staff. What I particularly liked about this presentation was that I considered modelling the less ‘teacher-directed’ or ‘direct-instruction’ and more ‘personalised’ approach. This meant outlining the concept of what personalised learning could incorporate; acknowledging that there is still a place and a need for some proportion of direct instruction; and showing how technology can allow learning to be personalised more readily. As always, the presentation includes numerous hyperlinks so that staff can go off and explore their own learning and interests themselves, but this time I specifically included a slide which catered for audio, visual and text-based preferred learning styles. In this way I was attempting to model one aspect of personalised learning.

A shout out to @GeoMouldey, @grantwiggins, @edutopia, @edudemic AND @coreeducation who provided me with content for this session!

I also ran a blogging workshop. I’m less sure how this was received – perhaps it would have been useful to find out what aspect of blogging teachers were interested in, as I referred to the possibility of having a class blog, a personal blog, a professional blog anf getting students to blog themselves all together! Hopefully my Blogging Workshop ‘help sheet’ is useful enough so that all those various possibilities are catered for…

(In addition to the list above, thanks to @mattynicoll too.)

In a slight aside reflection, looking at the rows of ‘@’s above – I must thank all the witting and unwitting members of my Professional Learning Network for keeping me up-to-date, informed and in-the-know!