Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Teachers: What are you Learning?

At the end of May, a group of educators from across the province came together in Wikwemikong to launch a writing project aimed at giving principals the tools for becoming leaders of learning in online environments.

Though online curriculum is, course-by-course, the same as what is taught in-class, there are obviously different practices at play when a teacher potentially never sees their students face-to-face. Our task was to look at how an eLearning teacher's teaching practices could be assessed by their local administrators. 

When principals walk into a traditional classroom, they can immediately pick out what is working well, and what might need some help/encouragement/leadership to change. But can a principal walk into an online "classroom" (be it a Google Classroom, a D2L shell, blog, etc.) and make the same assessments?

We started by looking at the five domains of the provincial Teacher Performance Appraisal (TPA), and the competencies associated with them. We refined and "e-ified" the competencies, and arrived at 10 questions that principals could ask their teachers (or teachers could ask of themselves) to assess their online teaching practices.

(This week, we have gathered again as a group to really examine these questions, pare down the "big ideas" behind them, and create a resource that both teachers and administrators can use to better their practice.)

Throughout the original process, there were two big questions which - though refined during our brainstorming process - really stood out to me as questions ALL teachers (online or not) should be asking themselves:

What are you learning?

How do you share what you are learning?

Two simple questions that pack a lot of reflective punch. 

There's value in reflecting on the culture of teaching as a culture of learning, be it learning to lead, or co-learning content with our students. As teachers, take a moment to ask yourself these questions (as I find I'm also asking myself): 

  • When was the last time you learned something new as it applies to teaching? 
  • When was the last time you tried something new in the classroom based on something you learned/read/heard about/experimented with? 
  • Are you learning on a regular basis, or only occasionally? 
  • Are you learning on purpose, or do you pick up new ideas passively? 
  • Are you learning as much as you'd like to be learning?
  • What could you do to learn more?

And if you are learning, can we learn along with you?

  • Do other teachers in your school know what you are doing? (And oppositely, do you know what your colleagues are doing?)
  • Do you have a digital portfolio?
  • Do you keep a blog of what you're learning and trying (both what works and what doesn't)?
  • Do you use social media to share?
  • If you aren't sharing, why not?

Check out what other Ontario educators are learning and sharing - there are great lists of Ontario edubloggers here and here. And if you learn something new, pass it along...

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