Improving our teaching practice

Ever since I started training as a teacher I realised there was lots for me to learn. Now that I’ve been teaching for a while I’ve realised that I didn’t know the half of it! Any teacher who thinks they know it all – or even feels satisfied with their own practice – probably looks like this guy!

There’s a saying I started using a while ago (and have probably used on this blog a few times over the last three years) and repeat often – ‘Every teacher has a veneer of confidence covering a sea of insecurity!’ Every time I use it with another teacher I see a wry smile of familiarity with a touch of relief thrown in that says, ‘Oh, …I’m not the only one!’ We feel insecure, I think, because teaching is such an art with so many constantly moving variables… many of which are out of our control. But – many aren’t, which is why we are always learning and striving to be our best – or should be.
This year our ICT cluster has begun a journey of using the Teacher Inquiry Model to improve the use of eLearning and ICT in our classrooms. The focus is the area of student learning we would like to see developed with improved outcomes while the strategies are the tools / practises or techniques we will use to achieve those outcomes. The shift that many teachers are making this term is seeing an ICT tool as the strategy, not the focus. So, podcasting becomes a strategy to improve my focus of engaging reluctant writers rather than wanting to use podcasting in my class and seeing how it benefit the students writing. This has been an important part of the process and many teachers are beginning some amazing projects – from yes, podcasting to blogging and all sorts of other ‘mashups’ of technology that are looking like making some fantastic gains for our students.
This graph, below is something I’ve been creating in popplet – a mix between wallwisher and mindmeister (or a graphic organiser and online yellow stickies). It’s been a brilliant tool for guiding a teacher to create some strategies they will use to help them achieve their focus. The inside (coloured) ideas are some different forms that strategies could take. The outside (grey) ideas are the kinds of eLearning strategies that could help those strategies.
This example of the popplet is just a screen shot of the dynamic version – which you can embed into a blog and people can add to. Because I’m adding to it as we go I’ve posted a jpg as an archive. I imagine that this chart could be used to reflectively examine our teaching practice at any time, regardless of whether we are completing a formal teacher inquiry or not.
Some questions to ask…
– in what parts of our practice are we simply missing the mark?
– what kinds of strategies could we try using to improve it?
– what or who could help us?
– how are you sharing / reflecting your ideas?

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