This blog is especially for new graduates, as they step out from being students to becoming teachers in practice. As stepping from one phase of life to the next can feel daunting, especially if we are unaware of the support that is available for us. Thus today’s topic is the ‘value of support and connection for teachers’. However I would love it if experienced teachers also found value and or commented.
The rapidly changing nature of education means it is essential for teachers to keep up to date and progress our knowledge and skills. Consequently as teachers in practice, professional development (PD) is part of life and provision of support. There is such a wide and diverse range of support resources for teachers today; the question is how do we select the supportive resources and PD we use. Knowledge and skills are the focus of most PD programs for teachers. Interestingly Henderson (2014) discusses the importance of relationships for effective PD or professional learning (as he refers to it). Indeed relationships are key to professional support and development.
Henderson notes, the long established view, that learning is a matter of enculturation. That is we learn from those around us by exposure, modelling and adapting. For enculturation ‘community cohesion’ develops a sense of mutuality that supports this process. Henderson refers to ‘communities of practice’ that is ‘groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly’ (Wenger-Trayner, n.d.) as key to the process.
That you learn from and become more like those you are exposed to means it is critically important you are selective about the group(s) that you become a member of. By selecting your ‘community of practice’ you select what practice method and styles you will develop. If we do not consciously make a choice, we will simply go with the flow. In theory this could be fine, however in practice it means forward movement, in the development of teachers for the future, maybe restricted to old established practices.
To select the resources that will suit you best begin by identifying what type of teacher you want to be and find a community that will challenge you and support you in becoming that, to your very best ability. Your teaching philosophy will be a good place to start. Next reach out to find resources that align.
Naturally our place of practice (school) will be our primary community of practice. This may seem to you that it means little or no choice in your community of practice. However we can be selective of whom, within our school, we choose as our primary source to learn from. Consciously ask yourself, who among your colleagues do you wish to become the most like? Deliberately spend time with them, asks them the questions you have. Consciously observe, reflect on and implement their practices. Doing so means you have taken the first step in your conscious enculturation.
At the same time going beyond our place of practice provides more options. Look for other communities of practice can be as simple as Facebook groups or other online communities. Once you start exploring the options they can become overwhelming. Again use your identified intentional practice to guide your choice of community to participate in. To support you I have collected a small number of potential resources. I encourage you to check the different resources out and use them as best serves you on your endeavour to be a ‘teacher for the future’.
The value in support for teachers in practice is principle the ability to support you become the teacher that you want to. To maximise this it is important you select resources and communities that will do so. If you have resources for teachers that you recommend for teachers ‘teaching for the future’ please post in the comments below. Naturally all comments are welcome. Make a request of a topic or even develop a guest post….
All the best
TeachMeet: A gathering of teachers where ideas for practice are shared. I find it a wonderful and supporting environment.
TLN: (Teaching and Learning Network) a teacher association that publishes a wonderful journal and provides PD classes, primarily online but also face to face.
Digital learning: http://dern.org/
edutopia: I like this one on flipped classroom https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwvXFlLQClU&list=UUdksaQxXH13BMeHo09MorBg
Ted-ed: Even has communities https://community.ed.ted.com/teded
YouTube: Who can forget Ken Robinson’s Paradigm shift. Check out more of his work and thoughts by others. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huYxrSR4sW8
Henderson, M. (2014) In professional learning the relationships are more important than the content. Retrieved from https://dltv.vic.edu.au/sites/dltv.vic.edu.au/files/documents/in_professional_learning_the_relationships_are_more_important_than_the_content_-_dr_michael_henderson.pdf
Wenger-Trayner, E. (n.d.) Intro to communities of practice retrieved from http://wenger-trayner.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/06-Brief-introduction-to-communities-of-practice.pdf