Reflecting on my pedagogical development

I finished my undergraduate teacher training in 2006 and I was taught many traditional pedagogical strategies, however, I was also taught the NSW Quality Teaching Model (QTM) and it was perhaps my first step towards realising the importance of reflection in my teaching practice.  I was constantly reflecting on the lessons I taught and how they were engaging students in aspects of the QTM.  As technology became a bigger part of my teaching practice, it became evident that the pedagogical strategies I implemented and utilised might have to change more as well.  

For a few years now I have been researching and reading up on heutagogy and andragogy.  I am always keen to investigate new ways to teach content and skills to my students.  Technology has been a huge catalyst in me doing this.  I realised early on in my career that technology was entering education institutes at a rapid pace and that there was going to be a need for teachers to develop further skills in ICT integration and that how we taught would also change.  

It was when I did the Intel Teach Essentials Master Trainer course that I realised just what kinds of pedagogical strategies would be required to harness the potential of technology and teach students who were engaging with technology more and more every day.  This PD course looked at problem- and project-based learning and how to integrate technology within it.  This was the first time I had learned about PBL and I quickly saw it as a valuable pedagogical strategy for the 21st century.

What is the significant position and place of pedagogy in education?  What is it in reality?  What should it be?  These questions came to mind as I was reading Lingard et al. (2003),  Zammit et al. (2007) and DET (2003).  Where is pedagogy placed within our current education system?  Is it placed in high enough a position?  I don’t think it is in reality.  When I look at the Australian school system as a whole, the focus is always on content… cover this, cover that and culminate in a test at the end.  Do educators today think of pedagogy as simply the foundation strategies they learned about when they were studying to be a teacher initially, but something that they don’t need to consider as much with experience?  Perhaps they do.

The QLD education department seems to have it going in the right direction when in their ‘Pedagogical Framework – FAQs’ they emphasise that: 

The State Schools Pedagogical framework policy requires every Queensland state school to develop a school pedagogical framework. It needs to be informed by research, yet respond to the local context.  From 2013, each school is required to enact a pedagogical framework that is collaboratively developed with the school community and aligned to state and regional requirements. This requirement is listed in the P–12 curriculum, assessment and reporting framework.” (p. 1).  

However, when I went to the NSW Syllabus website for the new NSW national curriculum syllabus documents, I did not see the word ‘pedagogy’ anywhere.  Where is the value placed on pedagogy in the new Australian curriculum? 

I believe that school plans should be made with pedagogy in the forefront of leaders’ minds.  Pedagogy is not just classroom teaching and learning strategies, it is the ‘art and science’ of teaching.  It is the facilitation of students and teachers alike, expressing and reproducing their learning with creativity and individuality.  It is the psychology, philosophy and specifics of how to teach and learn, how we process information and what we do with that information.  That is more important than the content we teach, because it carries into life beyond the classroom.

REFERENCES

DET, N. (2003). Quality teaching in NSW public schools. Sydney: Professional Support and Curriculum Directorate.

Lingard, B., Hayes, D., & Mills, M. (2003). Teachers and Productive Pedagogies: Contextualising, conceptualising, utilising.Pedagogy, Culture & Society.  11,3, 399- 424.

QLD Department of Education, Training and Employment, (n.d.). Pedagogical framework — Frequently asked questions. [online] Available at:     http://education.qld.gov.au/curriculum/pdfs/pedagogical-framework-faqs.pdf [Accessed 2 Sep. 2014].

Zammit, K., Sinclair, C., Cole, B. Singh, M., Costley, D., Brown a Court, L., Rushton,K. (2007). Teaching and leading for quality Australian schools: a review and synthesis of research-based knowledge.  Acton, A.C.T.: Teaching Australia, Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. LB1727.A8.T45

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What is learning anyway?

I’m the Leader of Learning Technology, and as our journey with 1-1 iPads continues and I plan for the long-term sustainability and development of the program I have been reading up on various things.  One book I am currently reading is Technology Together: Whole-School Professional Development for Capability and Confidence by Renata Phelps and Anne Graham.

Technology Together is a process for developing a whole-school approach to to professional development with ICT.  The book is a fantastic read and I have been getting a lot out of it.  I really want to lead the school in being visionary, competent and risk-taking when they implement and integrate technology.  Chalkboards and whiteboards were once considered ‘technology’ in that they were new and facilitated a different mode of teaching and learning from previous tools utilised.  Whilst 21st technology progresses at a much faster pace, I would love to ultimately see technology such as the iPad, be integrated into the classroom in much the same smooth and seamless way.

Educational leadership cover imageOver the weekend, I was also sent some professional reading to complete for a discussion amongst leaders at school today and it proved to help elaborate and shed light on these issues from another angle.  The article I read was ‘Students First, Not Stuff’ by Will Richardson, from the March, 2013 edition of Educational Leadership.  I loved the article, it was an honest take on how teaching and learning is and always should be about the students, not the tools or the technology.

Some of the other points that were made in the article that really resonated with me were:

“Right now, we should be asking ourselves not just how to do school better, but how to do it decidedly different… Learning is now truly participatory in real-world contexts… But it’s not about the tools.  It’s not about layering expensive technology on top of the traditional curriculum.  Instead, it’s about addressing the new needs of modern learners in entirely new ways.  And once we understand that it’s about learning, our questions reframe themselves in terms of the ecological shifts we need to make: What do we mean by learning?” (p. 12)

So this brings me around to what I’ve been asking myself for many days now: How can I lead my colleagues in integrating technology without focusing too much on the technology but on the teaching and learning?  What does 21st century learning look like at its core? How can staff develop ICT capabilities and become self-directed and motivated to do so? These are questions I really do believe Technology Together will assist in doing.

References

Graham, A & Phelps, R 2013, Technology together: whole-school professional development for capability and confidence, International Society for Technology Education (ISTE). ISBN: 9781564843258

Richardson, W. (2013).  Students first, not stuff.  Educational Leadership, Vol. 70, Issue 6, p. 10-14.

Professional development – What works for school-based training?

Given my current position at school, the professional development of staff in technology and technology integration is a high priority for me.  However, what is the best way to motivate staff and engage staff in fruitful professional development?  Teachers are time poor and essentially blinded by the tunnel vision that is there day to day workload and tasks.  Yes there are times of relief from face-to-face (f2f) teaching to complete such tasks but there is still inevitably not sufficient time to engage in ongoing professional development (PD) for most.  I want to be able to motivate my colleagues and engage them in ongoing PD but what is going to work as a model for all, not a one-size-fits-all model but a flexible model that can cater for all?

I’ve been reading a book called Transforming Classroom Practice: Professional Development Strategies in Educational Technology and its prompting me to consider many different factors effecting the culture of PD at school.  When I worked for PLANE I saw increasing numbers of teachers state-wide and then nationally, get on board with online learning for their own PD but not all teachers seem keen to use their own time to engage in these kinds of PD activities.  Should it be that this is an option but that is more of a blended model?  I think I’m leaning towards a blended model of offering certain sessions f2f but then supporting that with online modules as well, in a flipped classroom style.  (Related blog post).

What I envisage doing then is making videos and setting a very short reading perhaps to introduce a new concept or skill to the staff, then we can focus the workshop session purely on just doing practical design and development of learning activities, applying what is learned.  Will this work?  I’m not entirely sure but it’s worth a try.  From reading the above mentioned book I have learned so much about how PD should run and one of the very first points I wrote down was this:

“Students whose teachers are technology trained outperform those with teachers who are not technology trained.”

This was a confronting point and a real reality check for the importance of PD in educational technology so what is the best way to approach it?  The book suggests that PD could be individually focused or socially/group focused but there are clear points to consider for either.

  • Listen to the teachers and what they want and need
  • Find out how the teachers define themselves as a teacher
  • Facilitate growth
  • What is their individual and collective experience, interests and background?
  • Offer choices
  • Set goals both individually and collectively
  • Involve teachers in the design and planning of PD
  • Incorporate basic skills with higher order thinking skills
  • Allow self-discovery, less instruction and direction given
  • Allow mistakes
  • Interact with teachers and acknowledge their efforts

I have a lot more to read and research in considering the best design for PD at school when integrating educational technology but so far this book has been very valuable.

TPCK Model and Learning Technology by Design

As a Leader of Learning Technologies, I have a lot of technologies that I want to train teachers to use but as I have been confronted once again by research to consider the fact that it is more important to train teachers to enhance and transform teaching and learning experiences with technology and not simply use technology.  I am certainly guilty of it sometimes, but we often want to embrace new technology and in our haste and/or enthusiasm to do so we lose focus on the content and pedagogy that is just as important in the planning process.  This is where the TPCK Model comes into the picture and solves may issues with technology integration in the classroom.

[youtube http://youtu.be/0wGpSaTzW58]

I’ve done a lot of reading and research in this area and have written about Learning by Design before and the TPCK Model and LBD are almost consider one in the same (Koehler & Mishra, 2005).  The article by Koehler and Mishra (2005) was helpful but what I have found most valuable is the many different diagrams, mostly Venn Diagrams, that demonstrate and discuss the details of the TPCK Model and how to implement it practically.

colourful tpck model
Image sourced from http://randysresources.wikispaces.com/TPACK

I’m really keen to integrate TPCK into how I design, develop and run teacher professional development at school and I found this particular flowchart that will be incredibly valuable.

TPCK Workflow
Image sourced from http://infusingict.wikispaces.com/-+Integrating+ICT+into+T%26L

To help me integrate the TPCK and start the process of integrating technology with intentionality I am going to play the TPCK Game that is outlined in the Public Schools of North Carolina wiki.  The game is a collaborative way of discussing the three domains and the different relationships that exist between them.  An outline of the game can be found on the above wiki and the video below shows it in action with some teachers.  I look forward to trying it and seeing how it progresses in the future.

[youtube http://youtu.be/cq4LmgDEqnc]

 


Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2005). Teachers learning technology by design. Journal of computing in teacher education, 21(3), 94-102.