Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Sharing in the Pond

I have to say that I’m rather excited by the prospect of the Pond. Their rather inspiring promo video does an admirable job of covering what the Pond does. Along with excellent music and a dramatic structure all of its own, it really amps up the excitement around the possibilities Pond creates around resource collaboration for educators. Creating resources specifically tailored to the learning needs of our students has often been something we’ve done largely in isolation and too often resourcing collaboration with colleagues only happens in short bursts. Having access to something like Pond that can overcome geographical boundaries and facilitate the use of our diverse individual strengths is definitely some to look forward to.

Even if the architecture of our own workplaces isn’t quite as inspiring as that of the Pond developers in the video, there’s still huge potential here for us as teachers to use this collaborative tool effectively, particularly if we consider how we might adjust our approach to resource development with a mind towards sharing and collaboration. And even though creating resources that are useful in some way for others may take extra time to begin with the benefits our students can gain from this in the long term could be substantial. Here’s a few things we might consider when creating resources with shareability in mind:

Clear and relatively focused learning intentions for resources. If we really want to get all risky here, we could even link them with New Zealand Curriculum achievement objectives! While we’re still going to find some form of content-based searching across resources useful, are we really able to ensure the things we find solely based on topics and content searches will cater for the needs of the students in front of us? If we can provide learning intentions and curriculum based meta data for artefacts, I suspect we’ll have far more ability to find exactly what fits the students we have; their learning needs, prior knowledge, interests and contexts.

Add to the ‘value’ of existing resources. One of the really interesting features of the Pond is that it we’ll be able to add “learning ideas” to resources that we’ve used which will then further enhance their seachability by others. So if we’ve discovered a resource that meets to learning needs of a particular group of students well and this hasn’t necessarily been covered in meta data on the resource already, we can then potentially make this resource findable for other would-be users.

Consider contributing small “chunks” rather than a full-fledged unit. I’ll going to go out on a limb here and suggest that the days of a fully pre-planned unit are limited at best. While some pre-planning of units is essential, we can’t accurately predict every learning need of every student before starting an entire unit. The Pond could be particularly helpful here if we are able to find small resources which might give some usable material or even a bit of inspiration that allows us to take something and alter it to cover a particular learning need as it arises. As well as possibly being more useful for other teachers, small resources are also easier to adjust to be usable for other teachers than an entire unit.

Help your luddite colleagues navigate the tech! I have to admit here that I’m a stubbornly deliberate luddite when it comes to social media and it looks as if the Pond might provide similar functionality to other social medias. The ability to follow particular providers, create communities and communicate with different groups in different ways may mean people with low levels of social media UI turgidity tolerance need your help in figuring out how to use the Pond in a way that suits their needs. In an age where an ability to effectively use ICTs to develop our professional learning is becoming an essential skillset for us, we all need to be helping each other to discover the benefits individual ICTs could offer.

Give as much useful feedback to each other as we can. Not only does specific feedback help other users ascertain what is useful or a potential limitation of a resource, it could also be a way for us to sharpen our own practice when we receive feedback on own resources. Obviously this will take some degree of bravery and resilience on our own part as we submit resources but in the long run could provide us with just the learning we need to continue improving outcomes for our students. I regularly see a high degree of respect and professionalism when educators communicate over social medias (strangely different from what happens in other online communities) and I expect this trend will continue in the Pond.

Communicate, mashup and recontribute! While it’s not completely clear exactly how the Pond will deal with using and changing each other’s resources, there are real opportunities here to link up with other educators who might provide the ideal complement to our own skillset and ideas to create even more amazing resources. Reflecting on the resource design I’ve been involved with, it’s almost without exception that all the really good ones have been collaborative efforts. While this can be difficult on a short time frame the end results have always been of a far higher quality than things I’ve worked on largely on my own.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Educational social media - 4 things to do more of...

Social medias are being used increasingly by educators as part of our ongoing attempts to improve our practice. They’re effective for sharing and discovering ideas and are a handy go-to when we have a question or query that we’d like to put out there for people beyond our own institutions. There are also plenty of fantastic blogs about that provide all kinds of inspiration around (not just around my own eternal quest towards conciseness but also) educational thinking. We are lucky to have the VLN in New Zealand which is set up specifically to help educators collaborate and access the content they need at a given time.

While we gain access to some great educational ideas through social medias, it can sometimes be hard to find things that don’t only reinforce what we already think. Blog comment banks and social media discussions are full of feedback where we affirm and agree with each other and requests for help are usually responded to quickly and usefully. While there’s not anything particularly wrong with agreeing with each other and offering a helping hand when we have a moment, there are some other ways educators collaborate across social media that provide some further (pretty impressive) benefits for our professional learning. One of the really powerful things about communication across these kinds of tools is that even if we don’t participate directly in discussions (personally I’m more of a lurker) we can still benefit massively from seeing the thinking laid out in front of us when someone has taken time to do some of the following things:

1) Inquire into contexts. If we want to help each other with useful offers of advice or suggestions, it is often important that we inquire further into someone’s context. Both parties have access to some great learning this way and the person requesting help is more likely to have it specifically tailored to their situation. It takes time to inquire but in the conversations where I’ve seen others do this, the subsequent dialogue that came out of it did a much better job of articulating the complexity of the issues at hand. Successful teaching and learning relationships (and many collaborative relationships outside of education) are increasingly recognising the variation of contextual specifics when forming solutions to problems. Discovering these contextual factors often takes sustained communication back and forth in some manner. While the time pressures of teaching don’t always set us up well for this, it is still something we need to make time for if we want to use each other as useful resources.

2) Share unresolved questions and tensions. I really love it when people do this. Not only does it put ideas out there that we may all have been thinking about for a while but were too scared to bring up, it also invites some of the most well thought-out and helpful replies I’ve seen on social medias. Education is complex and full of unresolved tensions, situations with multiple contributing factors and diverse contexts that can make simplistic communication limiting. While there’s a risk these kinds of discussion can become long-winded rants or complaints, the quality of our responses to each others situations and ideas can really make these interactions worthwhile.

3) Explain alternative viewpoints. While this can be difficult, it is an important part of a successful dialogue around unresolved questions and tensions. Respectfully posed alternative viewpoints can give real insight into the different perspectives and parts of an issue and I have nothing but admiration for people who can lay out alternative viewpoints respectfully and clearly.

4) Friend and follow people we disagree with. This is a great natural progression from 2 and 3 and can help us avoid the social-networking-only-gives-me-opinions-I-agree-with effect (sorry, that’s a terrible name for it). Carefully considering the opinions of those we often disagree with can have a couple of positive outcomes. We are more likely to discover more of our own inadequate mental models and subsequently are able to better understand issues that we feel strongly about.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Teaching ‘Disruptively’ How? / 5 Guidelines on crazy new curriculums!

I like this blog post. It’s inspirational in the way it suggests how ‘disruptive’ teaching might help our students challenge the status quo through learning in a digital rich age. Sadly however, it stops short of making suggestions around how we might help our students to become disruptively deep learners. Of course it is no small task to suggest ‘hows’ when we are faced with so many new kinds of teaching and learning approaches. From modern learning environments that can deprivatise practice (enhancing teacher collaboration and learning) and allow us to better respond to learning needs to a plethora of ICTs that might provide increased learning outcomes right through to more flexible curriculums that recognise the importance of student choice and contexts and personalised learning. Some of these curriculums, like ones that include project-based learning, may also need to be structured in ways that differ quite radically from timetabled subjects. Decisions around what is learned about in schools and how to best teach it are gradually recognising the importance of how learners need to know about the actual learning process itself, how they can develop solutions in response to complex problems and how effective collaborative skills are essential in all of this.
While reading about exciting ideas around what exciting teaching could look like can be really inspirational, developing some of the necessary detail to actually take the plunge and implement it in a school can be really challenging. If we really want to provide the kind of learning that can give rise to “a kind of slow ash—of new ideas that aren’t always packaged how you asked, and don’t always do what you want them to do” there’s also some hard work to do. We will most likely face challenges as we try things that may not have been done before and we all know that the road is littered with exciting new approaches to curricula and learning that didn’t quite pan out. The reality of actually implementing teaching and learning that might provide our students with more options than traditional approaches can really stretch both our mental models and question many of the ways we’ve done things in the past.

Five years into a school where we have modern learning environments and a substantial part of the curriculum devoted to project-based learning and teachers tutoring a small group of students across all areas of our curriculum, I’ve noticed a few things that might be worth passing on. So if you’re presently looking at new ways of offering students more opportunities in a digitally enhanced, information saturated and slightly manic 21st century, the following guidelines might help in the slightly-less inspirational, quite difficult and ongoing “putting in the detail” / implementation part of the journey:

1) When developing structures and resources that can enable a shared vision and best practice in a new approach to curriculum, collaboration is essential - Yeah, we all know that collaboration is the new thing but in this context, it’s even more important. Constructing a curriculum that sits outside, across and between (or however you look at it) normal subject specialisms and in ways that require a high degree of learning personalisation is likely to demand more strengths or related expertise that any one person has. Collaboration sits as a bit of a prerequisite for the next 4 suggestions too…

2) Another specific thing we need to collaborate on is, supporting each other to identify the new skillset needed to operate effectively as “disruptive” teachers. It can be really challenging to see how radically this skillset may differ from the skills we’ve been required to have traditionally as teachers so far. Without useful support from each other, not only will we be unable to adequately identify the new skills we need, we’ll also may not be able to navigate our way through the difficult times when we realise just how short of them we are.

3) Collaboration is also excellent for unearthing mental models that may need revision for us to adequately understand how a particular approach or change might benefit our learners. Because useful collaboration is a process which can stretch us, it’s also important that we build a culture that supports challenging and supportive interaction. We also need to recognise the importance of conversations that may be challenging to start with but are more likely to lead to substantial professional learning for all parties. Check out OTLCs for info on how challenging conversations can actually be more useful in the long term for developing useful professional relationships. And remember, OTLCs aren’t just a tool for management unit holders!

4) Structures and resourcing may need to be context-free. Even two iterations into a national curriculum that involves a high level of abstraction and massive potential for useful learning, we still face challenges as archaic assessment systems which are, in some ways, less stressful for teachers because they make some parts of our job clearer cut continue to wrestle with NCEA in the public arena. Standards-based assessment and project-based learning in particular are two areas where a high level of teacher professional understanding and judgement are necessary to give students some pretty incredible learning opportunities through a context that is meaningful to them. But are our moderation practices and culture of professional learning up to the challenge?

5) Implement in phases and use everyone’s strengths. Don’t spend hundreds of people hours working on a complete educational ‘product’ (or go out and buy one) only to discover that it doesn’t fit the context. Of course, building a plane during flight is actually pretty risky too so something does need to be done to start with. As further support structures and resources are developed, work to identify strengths and interests of everybody involved and get them developing! If a curriculum change is solely driven by one member in a leadership team, or even developed by an entire leadership team without taking advantage of all the teachers in an institution who are keen to contribute, then at best the system won’t well as well as it could.

So there’s my five guidelines on crazy new curriculums! And good luck with whatever you’re trying at present!

foolish blogger HTML!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

ICTs at the beginning of a Teaching as Inquiry cycle

One of the biggest challenges in teaching is deciding how to best use our time. We are barraged with a large number of decisions each day and the effectiveness of our responses to these often aren’t immediately (or sometime ever) particularly clear. While not all the outcomes of these decisions have a big impact on student learning or our limited time and energy reserves, others do. In particular, how we go about identifying student learning needs and any subsequent decisions we make about our professional learning, planning and assessment in response to this are an important factor in student learning.

At the beginning of ‘a’ teaching as inquiry, developing a focus based on what’s going on for students’ learning can be a complex task. Our own priorities need to be lined up with the students’ learning outcomes despite all the pressures which might misalign these. We also need to be able to accurately identify the multiple factors that make up each student’s response to our efforts to make learning happen, develop some explanations for why this might be occurring and then choose which explanations are the most adequate to describe what we’re seeing and therefore the most useful to focus on. If that sounds like an overly complicated abstraction of the focussing inquiry, check out what can happen (school-wide in this particular example) when we incorrectly identify the learning need(s) behind what we’re observing. Good focussing inquiries can can take time and effort and this is all before we even get to figuring out what our response could be. We can over-generalise about what the contributing factors are, sometimes putting student needs all in one group when their contexts may actually be quite different. It can also be frustrating to see feedback or data that suggests that our best planned attempts at making learning happen haven’t yet hit the mark for some students.

A focussing inquiry can be a excellent time to use ICTs (and lowtek ways) to get an accurate picture of what is going on and developing some explanations or theories on why this might be happening. Developing our understanding of both what’s happening and why is important in a focussing inquiry as we want to use our time and energy as wisely as possible. Interpreting data and observations accurately when developing our focussing inquiry will ensure our efforts in a teaching inquiry are also as useful as possible.

Finding out from students what’s happening for them can be done in a conversation or interview, recorded on a smartphone or computer and analysed later for anything we might miss at the time. Google forms can be used to collect specific information and we can use colleagues to look over our questions beforehand to see they’re going to elicit the information we need. If we want a quicker way of collecting feedback on our reading of a situation we might use mentimeter, twitter or another micro-blogging client to collect data from students during a lesson. We might also set up a google doc to record our observations of whatever learning is or isn’t happening and add our ideas to explain what might be behind this. We could then invite a number of colleagues to give feedback on the document if face to face contact is a bit harder to organise. It’s also really easy (although perhaps slightly irresponsible) to spam a large number of people with a google doc invites so we can get as much input as possible into our explanations for what we’re seeing.

All of these methods can lead to more adequate, more effective focussing of inquires which, in turn, can lead to more useful and productive teaching inquiries. Hopefully, other outcomes from these two steps will be effective teaching and learning in response to our analysis and research and then some sustained change in practice or an effective response in the future a similar context that we develop in the learning inquiry. Obviously using all these ICTs to collect data are viable and perhaps more common in a learning inquiry but  if we can more effectively tune our focusing inquiries using similar collaboration and data collection, the learning gains at the back end can be even more effective for our students and their learning.

Monday, 3 March 2014

ICTs - More than just a content disseminator?

What types of functions do we expect to hear about when we hear someone mention a great ICT they’ve used in their practice? I imagine we want some really good teaching and learning gains for it to be compelling enough to put time into investigating. Do we expect to hear about more creativity in resource design to support learning or maybe some new ways to communicate concepts beyond the usual verbal delivery and written resource communication? Is it something that helps students reflect on their learning and consider what they might do next? Or perhaps make it more efficient for us to give students feedback and enable us to do it more regularly? How about an ICT that allows teachers and students to collaborate more effectively and across geographical boundaries? These are just a few of the opportunities I’ve seen offered by various ICTs in recent years.

With some sadness however, I often see discussion around ICTs relegated primarily to the dissemination of teaching and learning resources. Flipped classroom resources, online instructional videos, stringing together various electronic resources with some form of annotation, intranet course resource repositories - not that these aren’t valid uses for ICTs but perhaps if we rely on them too much we’re missing our main call as teachers. If, as recent thinking would have us believe, our main chance to help students learn is through feedback, feedforward and tailored discussions about a student’s individual learning then we should perhaps be cautious of thinking that suggests we can accomplish all that much just by connecting students with content and letting them go to it. I actually quite like the idea of helping students to work on things in their own time that they might not need us for but still have difficulty accepting the premise that much or any of what we’re tasked to help students learn is really all that worthwhile if they can do it easily enough without us to help. It’s obviously not that they can’t learn anything without us but just that our assistance within a particular learning area should allow them to really excel significantly more than they could without us.

If looking at ICTs as more than just resource disseminators is something you’ve done in the past, you may have also noticed that some of the more complex tools out there also take more of our time to learn. While getting one’s head around how to string a lesson together in Edmodo may take less than half an hour I’d suggest if it’s an ICT we can learn relatively quickly it may not always give us as much teaching and learning functionality as something more complex. I recently read a blog that listed a number of things that teachers want in tech tools. There was some great stuff in there but when I came across the following I was a little disappointed. “If a new tool is not something I can figure out a little within a half an hour then I doubt it will find a permanent home in my classroom.” Is this what ICTs like facebook and tumblr have done to us? Are we now in a place where if we can’t figure out an ICT straight away we relegate it to the useless bin? I can understand how this thinking works if we look at ICTs primarily as something that gets resources to students (hardly an ambitious aim) but if we’re open to ICTs that may have much more exciting and far-reaching teaching and learning potential perhaps we’d be more open to spending longer developing expertise in their use. Just because social medias and other browser-based technologies value ease of use doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to be all that use-ful in a teaching and learning context.

Of course we need to have a pretty good idea of what an ICT might be able to do for us if we’re willing to put a significant time commitment into its use. And this is where the sharing of best practice, in some amount of detail becomes essential. Instead of just saying to each other, “Oh hey, I used XXXX ICT, website etc and it was great!” Perhaps we might spend a bit more time explaining the actual way we used it and ways to describe the teaching and learning gains so we can articulate these to other teachers before we blog, email or post about it. If I’m given some more detail on a more complex ICT and why it’s useful in a teaching and learning context, I know I’m much more willing to consider putting time into it than wasting ten minutes of my life raging at facebook because I can’t figure out how to add a new album and put photos in it.

So I guess it’s all about the size of the potential gains. If we can get better at sharing these, then perhaps we’ll also be able to get better at convincing each other to put the time into learning about an ICT and using it in our teaching and learning. And if it’s about getting resources to students, that’s fine too. Just as long as that’s not the only thing we’re thinking about when we’re communicating with each other on the what, why and how ICTs with teaching and learning potential.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Two Truisms of Teachers and ICTs

Recently at school we decided to upgrade our presentation rooms with mounted speakers and new data projectors. As part of this project I decided to run some maintenance on the other data projector setups in our learning commons to sort out any cabling or plug issues so that teaching staff could access the technology as easily as possible. Including the presentation rooms, now complete with fancy wall mounted speakers, and the rest of the learning commons, we are lucky to have enough mounted data projectors for every teacher to use one during a class.

After constructing a fancy guide complete with helpful images and a table of contents on how to use the new audio and data projector HDMI setup, I thought it might be important to also include some compelling teaching and learning reasons for the use of data projectors. Over the years I've heard a number of people citing the thinking around the 'death by powerpoint' effect which, applied as a blanket criticism of the technology, I've always thought was a bit unfair. It seemed to me that it was akin to criticising the use of feedback by using an example a teacher who gives feedback consisting only of vague advice and generalisations. It's not the feedback or use of data projectors in particular that is the problem but rather how they're being used. At any rate, here's 4 reasons I feel are compelling for using data projectors and e-presentations of some kind in teaching and learning:

1) More time for the good stuff in class. Students spending less time copying frees us up for more quality instructional time. We get to do the stuff that really makes a difference like one on one explanations and feedback/forward etc. Fantastic!

2) My personal favourite - use images that relate specifically to the concepts we're teaching. Great for helping students stay with us when we're explaining and encouraging deeper understanding of concepts, especially complex ones. Google image search isn't amazing on a metaphorical level and using a graphics tool of some kind to composite/mashup our own teaching and learning images can be useful here. Check out these GIMP tutorials I made a few years back for an English task. They'll give you everything you need to cut, combine and fancify images for a useful e-presentation. Believe or it not, with a bit of practice it's even possible to do it really, really quickly!

3) Task instructions accessible for all. Next time someone says, "what are we doing again?" we can just point at the screen and say, "have a read of that Percy, think about it and then ask me for help if you need it." If combined with 2, we can cover verbal, written AND visual for the important stuff. Fancy. Or if a student is away, they can still access content without us going to extra work to provide it for them.

4) Helps mental wanderers. If a student loses track of what we're saying (although we know that never really happens because we're so incredibly engaging) a quick glance at a concise, non-wordy, to the point, point with images that support the main concept(s) get students back on track and with us.

While I've always believed that good e-presentations and data projectors can give some excellent teaching and learning gains I've also noticed that people can need support to use them well. In an effort to do this I explained to staff that the as well as the usage guide, 4 compelling reasons and new setups in the presentation rooms, I was happy to be available at the beginnings of lessons to help with any issues and more than happy to discuss the ins and outs of using these ICTs in classes. If we're going to use an ICT or group of ICTs in teaching and learning that we're not already using then it's likely we'll need some form of ongoing support in different forms to recognise the benefits and develop the necessary skills for their use. This is particularly true when the teaching and learning gains are greater with the use of multiple ICTs. When developing useful e-presentations in the past, I had always used not only the projector itself but also libre office and GIMP (an open source graphics app) to create images and lay them alongside content that illustrated concepts (both literally and figuratively) well enough to be useful.

A week or so after emailing the guide and my fancy list of compelling reasons for data projector use, I went for a walk round some classes and found that 41% of teachers were using the data projectors either for content delivery and support (via an e-presentation or online ICT of some kind) or for watching videos. Obviously the use of visual, written and verbal mediums via a range of ICTs isn't going to be happening in all classes all the time but given the gains I was still keen to see more teachers and students gaining the benefits of their effective use. Particularly given that we have open learning commons and some really impressive practice with useful images combines with concise written content and engaging verbal delivery was openly on display for other teachers to see. Given all this I'll attempt to combine my thoughts on this into two truisms around teachers and their use of ICTs in teaching and learning:

Truism 1 - We need to be able to recognise compelling teaching and learning benefits for an ICT or group of ICTs before we are willing to put time into developing the necessary skill to use them. This usually needs to be more than just listening to someone else explain the benefits and may require us to actually see them in action and even better, be able to look at some data that shows learning gains of some kind.

Truism 2 - After we are convinced of some potential learning gains, we need ongoing support in developing expertise in using the ICT. If this involves the use of multiple, new ICTs, this is even more important.

Expecting teachers to suddenly become proficient in three different ICTs, in retrospect, was perhaps a little unrealistic. In the case of the use of data projectors, I realised that if all of us were to use them well teachers actually needed to develop skills in two additional ICTs as well as the projectors themselves. Firstly a presentation ICT of some kind and secondly a graphics app to adequately manipulate and combine images to a useful state to illustrate the concepts being taught. One of the key aspects of this support is that it needs to be ongoing and timely. While one part of this might be a staff-wide delivery of some description, this will only be useful if combined with on the spot support when we need it. As with the data projectors, many staff had tried to use them in the past, had some trouble around plugs, cabling and/or their laptops and basically given up in frustration.

In summary, if any of us are going to risk investing a significant amount of time in up-skilling to use ICTs in teaching practice, not only do we need to see compelling teaching and learning gains, we also need ongoing support to become fluent in their use. It's rarely enough to present something and then expect others to be convinced enough to invest time in upskilling or even worse: believe some ICTs are worthwhile and then lack the necessary support to develop adequate expertise to lead to a sustained change in practice. This has major implications for 'rolling out' an initiative in a school and what we choose to put our time into developing. If we believe that the use of particular ICTs can really give some good teaching and learning gains for our students then we need to be careful and realistic around our planning and implementation of the support around them for other staff. Perhaps if it's something that a number of people already have skills in while other teachers could see some serious gains in their classes we might even question whether a staff-wide approach is appropriate or effective at all. Staff-wide approaches can also suffer from timeliness issues – if something could be relevant to us as a teacher at a later date but isn't relevant right now, we're unlikely to invest time into learning it. To avoid these two pitfalls, perhaps we might look more towards an inquiry model or implementation at a department of professionally learning group level. However we make these decisions though, if we want to see teachers develop the necessary motivation and skills to use useful ICTs effectively, I'd suggest it's well worth keeping the two truisms of teachers and ICTs use in mind.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

A Christmas ICT Teaching as Inquiry Wish

There are a lot of resources out there online for teachers to use. There’s so many that sometimes the time spent looking for exactly what you want isn’t worth (and sometimes as satisfying) as creating something yourself. And it’s not just resources to use in the classroom either. Thanks to ongoing funding from the Ministry there are a heap of great support documents for teacher professional learning, TKI, NZQA, Down the Back of the Chair, the Senior Secondary Teaching and Learning Guides and the NZ Curriculum page just to name a few.

So we’re rather well resourced, resource-wise but there’s another ICT I’d really like for Christmas. A resource that gives me access to the learning and effective practice of other teachers! A store (if you will) of the amazing professional learning of colleagues from all over Aotearoa where I can access the findings of teacher’s Teaching as Inquiry inquiries. Somewhere where I could read about the context that a teacher had found themselves in and the specific needs of the students in front of them. Not just a stab in the dark guess at the picture of student needs but a rigorous process (as rigorous as we can manage given the craziness of teaching) of developing theories or readings of the learning context of students who have the greatest need. A focussing inquiry process that is improved by querying data and the analysis, critique and questioning of multiple colleges and students. Then, after the focussing inquiry, a teaching inquiry that is informed by research, further conversations with colleagues (online or face to face) and students. Then a go at some different teaching and learning from what’s been done in the past followed by a solid analysis of the learning outcomes of the interventions or practice changes the teacher tried.

Imagine a place we could go to read about these rich kinds of professional learning journeys! Where our problematic mental models were challenged and we were able to question the things that aren’t working and make sustained, meaningful changes in practice helped improve outcomes for students! It’s unlikely we would take anything wholesale from a context that is different from our own and our students’ but golly, we’d sure learn a heap about quality teaching and learning. And if we were looking for something specific for our own inquiries, and this fancy ICT came with a useful search function, we might also be able to find useful information and learning and subsequently help improve our students’ learning. Teaching and learning is a super complex process and while this complexity isn’t always obvious to start with, sometimes resources that don’t take into account contextual complexities aren’t always going to help us. Having access to the quality professional learning of others however, might be just what we need.

Well, that’s one thing I could do with for Christmas! Although to be honest it’s pretty unlikely I’d be actually reading it on Christmas day. But for the rest of the year, that’s a massive “yesssssssssss” from me.