The More Things Change . . .
. . . the more they stay the same!
I attended the term 3 SparkL PD in Melbourne today with two of my colleagues. It was a good day in that we had lots of discussion, a chance to reflect and time to plan. The downside is always the rhetoric and repetition that inevitably seems to be part of professional development. I have said before, this approach (project based learning) is not new but I spent some time today pondering what makes a good teacher a good teacher.
We have a new Principal at our college and his first few days have left us somewhere between shell-shocked and inspired. One of the first things he made clear was his vision for our school which he also made clear was “set in concrete”. However, the roadmap to achieve this vision is well and truly open to negotiation and he has created a buzz in office conversations as we begin to put ideas together.
As I worked my way through today’s PD it struck me that curriculum is the same. In my twenty years of teaching the content has always been a solid fixture. We have always been tied to the dot points of Frameworks, CSF, CSFII, VELs and now the National Curriculum. However, a good teacher realises that they have control of the delivery. The roadmap for achieving those set standards have always been open to the interpretation and creativity of the classroom practitioner.
My thoughts also wandered to the old debate between internal and external PD. We have been sending most of our team to these sessions as we are wrestling with taking on SparkL projects across our entire junior sub-school. (Most schools start with one or two classes, not the nine we took on!). It has been a chance for us all to have dedicated time to explore our understanding of project based learning but it is costly to the school to have so many teachers out on one day. This time we opted for a smaller representation with the responsibility of reporting back. It left me thinking, though, that it is important to attend external PD. Staying in school means we get bogged down in the mud of everyday issues. Even allocating an afternoon to team planning can be interrupted by any number of small things that eat into the time. Going off-campus and interacting with people from other teaching institutions allows us to see the bigger picture of teaching and learning. It gives us the opportunity to free our minds from the everyday things, allowing us become more creative in the way we guide our students along the roadmap.
A good teacher never stops learning and adapting. Learning to be better learners, teaches us how to be better teachers.