Sunday, 14 October 2018

Evidence, Experience & 'Expertise'

“To free up creative energy we need to let go and divert some attention from the pursuit of the predictable goals that we are naturally inclined to pursue and use it instead to explore the world around us on its own terms.”  
Csikszentmihalyi, M. 1997. Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention

Attending the ACEL conference in Melbourne last week generated a couple of questions.

1.     Do we promote and provide time for curiosity to develop in students and teachers?
2.     Do we allow students and teachers time to explore their purpose or passions?
3.     How can my teacher-voice be heard?

Bryan Goodwin presented ‘Flip the script with student curiosity’. According to Goodwin, ‘Curiosity is as powerful a predictor of student success as IQ and student motivation matters as much to student outcomes as teacher quality. Yet both are often overlooked in our efforts to improve student outcomes in schools. In fact, the longer students stay in school, the less curiosity and motivation they demonstrate.’

With NSW reviewing the curriculum, I am hopeful that teachers will have a voice and contribute their experience and expertise. If curiosity is important to student learning, then it appears we need to go deeper into a topic and make learning more personal, engaging and authentic. Covering less content will provide the opportunity for teachers and students to dive deeper into a topic with an emphasis on motivation, engagement and curiosity.

In Robert Biswar-Diener’s presentation titled, 'What is experienced in experiential learning', he stated there is a long and rich tradition of attention to experiential learning in formal education systems. The common assumption is that it is through doing (behaviour) that learners have the opportunity to acquire skills, gain new knowledge, and interact with others. He suggests that although behaviour is integral to all experiential learning, it is possible that educators too often overlook the more psychological dimensions of experiential learning.

The teachers I know and work with understand that emotions are an integral part of the learning process. Teachers are struggling to complete the administrative expectations and unfortunately, it is my belief that if nothing changes soon their passion and purpose will be compromised. If teachers are provided with more support and time, they would be more effective and our students would benefit. With competing priorities, how are we supporting the teachers exploration of their passion and purpose?

I attended QandA last Monday night and because there were no politicians on the panel, it was all quite civilised. However, I do think a politician on the panel would compel them to hear the voices of those in the education industry. My question was not selected but using my 'teacher voice' I've since tweeted it to @pasi_sahlberg in the hope that UNSW Gonski Institute for Education @GonskiInstitute & Adrian Piccoli @PiccoliMp will respond.

Research is indicating that in the UK, USA and Australia, teachers are leaving the classroom within their first 5 years of teaching. While I received my teaching degree from a university in New South Wales, my 3 practicums were experienced in Washington state. I became credentialed in Washington State and then again in California. I was provided a mentor for 2 years, which was funded by the state governments to complete my teacher accreditation. Seattle School District also provides a mentor (outside of the school) to support the early career teachers in their first 2 years of teaching. If other countries are being proactive, why aren’t we?  How can we support our early career teachers in their first few years of teaching and through their accreditation process?

We need to support our teachers and reflecting back on the conference which was titled ‘Evidence & Experience’, I agree with Professor John Hattie, the word Expertise could have been included. While it is beneficial to have well-known keynotes with theory and research, it would have been great to hear from more general practitioners-those with expertise...
  • teachers who work with students daily
  • teachers who program with every new syllabus implemented (especially primary teachers)
  • teachers who write assessments and reports
  • teachers who work through the holidays planning for the Term
  • teachers who attend conferences to develop professionally (even in holiday time)
  • teachers who complete risk assessments & permission slips
  • teachers who know and care for their students way beyond 9-3
Teachers need to be recognised as the ones with the Expertise and need to be included at the table with the politicians, policy makers and academics. Teacher-voice and agency should be a priority because 'our students are our priority'.

I completed this data survey shared by Nicole Mockler on Twitter to again reflect my teacher-voice. 

Data, data everywhere! But what does it mean? How do we use it? To what end? Some of the qns @meghanrstacey and I are trying to get to the bottom of! Teachers in Aust, please consider doing our 15min survey & get your voice in the mix. (and pls RT madly!)

Let's put some play back in school!

Thanks for reading.


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  2. What an interesting blog post! I agree with your opinion that teachers must be brought to the table when negotiating their student's education. They know more about their students needs above anyone else and should play a much more important part. Great Post!

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