Saturday, 20 February 2016

Sharing in Isolation?

For all that teaching is a high social role, it is not without its fair share of isolation. Perhaps more than its fair share? We spend most of our working hours surrounded by the young people who inspire us to become teachers, which is as it should be. For many teachers these hours are bookended by solitary periods of planning and marking, and punctuated by mad dashes to the bathroom or photocopier; not much by way of meaningful adult interaction; not much time to share our practice and encourage each other's growth.

It's the lack of sharing and encouragement that, I think, is particularly troublesome.  I know a lot of teachers who shrug their shoulders and say 'it is what it is' at this point but, as you know by now, I'm not that kinda teacher.

This morning I spent a number of hours at a Reflect Growth meet up where one of the the goals is always to try to address this very issue.  Under the wise guidance of Selena Woodward (she'll laugh at that description) we talked quite broadly about our teaching practices and then had the pleasure of listening to Chantelle Morrison talk about the innovative and student-lead process she used to set up her classroom this year. Following this we spent some time individually reflecting on big picture goals we want to strive for this term and perhaps more importantly sharing those goals. I was quite humbled to sit next to Chantelle who shared with me that she wants to work on her use and understanding of anchor charts. She asked me about them because she remembered hearing me talk about them. It was reaffirming that my experience could be used to encourage someone else. (I'm not 100% convinced she was encouraged but let's just leave it there shall we?)
I wondered, at the time, if everyone else found the act of sharing our goals confronting? And why did I find it so? Last year I shared my goal of developing my understanding and skills using working walls, and with the sure knowledge that I was going to share my growth in a public presentation. The act of sharing meant that I felt compelled encouraged to work towards my goal and gave me a sense of accountability. And you know what? I loved it. What was different this morning? I don't know.
We eventually used a (new to me) web based tool called canvaniser to build a plan around our goals using some of the language of 'lean change'. And again, we had the option to share this plan as we made it or within our virtual Reflect Growth forum. The idea of sharing our goals is to garner support, share ideas and encourage each other.
Created using
Notice the common themes here? You got it: sharing and encouraging.  Whilst I've been really blessed to have worked with some amazing people with whom I've shared and offered/received a lot of encouragement there is nothing quite like the coming together of teachers with the explicit goal of doing it.  The ways of achieving this sort of network are endless and I encourage all teachers to seek out a group, a friend or even online network that works well for them.

I feel renewed - and considerably less isolated - after spending the morning sharing with other teachers.  (I wonder if I'd feel even more renewed if I'd taken advantage of the free massages from KindaKneady that were on offer this morning?)

(Incidentally: my goals are around sharing learning goals and working with students to develop success criteria and learning more about the pedagogies that make stations/carousels successful in a rigorous classroom. If you would be willing to talk with me about these things I'd LOVE to hear from you. If you live locally, I know a really great coffee shop...)

This relates to the following Australian Professional Standards for Teachers...
Standard 6 Engage in professional learning
Standard 7 Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community

No comments:

Post a Comment