On Monday, I was very lucky to attend, along with some other Bradbury staff, a lecture given by Professor Michael Fullan. Fullan is recognised as a worldwide authority on educational reform, he is a prolific, award winning author whose thoughts and ideas have been influential on the direction of educational policy around the world. It was wonderful to listen to him speak but mostly it was great to have my own thinking around what we do in our school challenged.
Prof. Fullan wrote a commentary recently entitled "The New Pedagogy: Students and Teachers as Learning Partners" (http://www.michaelfullan.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Commentary-Learning-Landscapes-New-Pedagogy.pdf)
While there are many interesting points that he raises, one that caught my attention is the notion of students and teachers as 'learning partners'. This is quite a radical departure of the traditional view of teachers, who are seen as the deliverer of knowledge and information to a passive, waiting group of students. This was certainly the view of teachers when I went to school, and possibly when you went also!
Certainly, the move towards an inquiry approach has changed this perception to some degree. When I interview for new teachers, what I hear from many, is that they see themselves as 'facilitators of learning' helping students to reach understandings themselves, to discover and apply their learning through a 'guide on the side' approach from the teacher.
This sounds perfect, until you consider Hattie's research, which I have written about in other posts, which found that this approach had only a .17 effect on learning- .40 and above being significant. But... with the teacher as the activator, or partner in learning, the effect size was .60!
This is challenging because some of the pedagogical approaches he lists as being part of the facilitator model: individualised instruction, problem based learning, for example, are practices that we believe make a difference, here at Bradbury.
At the same time, some of the 'activator' practices are also well embedded pedagogical approaches here as well: feedback, frequent checks on effects of learning, meta-cognition.
So the challenge for me as instructional leader is to be thoughtful about what we do here, to reflect critically on our practices, to ensure that I am current in my thinking and to change that which is outdated or no longer relevant.