I won’t lie, I got into education in the first place as a fairly academic exercise. I’d just finished my undergraduate degree in developmental psychology at my fairly straight-laced, empirical university, was still getting a pretty massive kick out of learning, and wanted to go and gather some real-world ammo for a Masters project. Ten years later, I’m still in the delightfully surreal kinds of workplaces where it’s commonplace to assume a crouching position to discuss the effectiveness of sticking the boot in as a method of conflict resolution and the fact that I’m only going to pull a shoe out of the roof gutter ONCE, or where I’m expected to perpetrate the notion that soaking the bejeezis out of your shirt under the coldest tap in the building before you come back from lunch on a 36° day is not utter genius.
To cut a long story short, I’m still getting a massive kick out of learning. The fact that I get to see the looks on young faces as they learn to do it in new exciting ways, or when they crack ideas and approaches on their own or with friends is pure and unadulterated icing on the cake. The fact that there’s a kicking scene of educators around the world that get the same sort of buzz off having their approach to their profession challenged that I do makes the job exciting, and I thank the social media-infused conference scene I’ve fallen in with for that.
It’s been a little disheartening over the years to meet, talk to, and work with people who don’t have that hunger to learn, connect with their colleagues around the world or otherwise jump into the current of change that is sweeping the world’s approach to information and discourse – either through a fear of “breaking things,” a workplace that doesn’t foster innovation, or a lack of awareness that the changing way that people communicate with each other and receive information will have immense ramifications for society in terms of the employment prospects, workplace environment, and sociocultural demands to eventually be placed on the students currently in their care. I’ve been involved in a few different kinds of professional learning initiatives over the last few years, from conference presentations and workshops, to in-school PD on school development days, to ongoing programs embedded into the week, to varying degrees of uptake and application. I’ve visited schools around Australia and Hong Kong that do a pretty snappy job of making sure everyone in the building is constantly learning, and have given a lot of thought as to how I’d like to see such a program implemented in my own school.
This post is to be the first in a series that explains how I’d like to embed a professional learning environment into a school. For ease of reading and to keep it fitting with the blog format, I’m breaking it down into topics. Expect posts on the following:
Model, Culture and Ethos
The Role of Leadership
Curriculum Design and Demands
The Professional Learning Environment
Delivery and Engagement
Staffing and Sustainability
Have I forgotten anything?