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What do I pass on?

Sometimes, if I get stuck on something, I’ll write out a blog post. They usually descend into stream of consciousness and I either find a solution or get a headache and stop. Either way I usually then delete the post.

This time I’m going to publish it. Partly because it fits in with the stuff I’ve been writing about rebooting my teaching and partly because Bianca just tweeted a link to this:

This sums up my last 2.5 years of teaching. #plsm13

“Unless the whole school is convinced this is the way to go, you’re fighting this huge uphill battle,” he says. “No one else has the students working together in teams. No one else asks students to make presentations or assesses them the way you do. Your class is significantly more rigorous and more challenging, even though you may assign less homework.”

 

and it chimes with what I’ve been thinking through this evening.

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I’ve spent the last couple of years reinventing the way I teach to incorporate more technology and a more project based learning. I’ve been doing it with the blessing of the school and my Head of Dept, but I’ve largely been left to my own devices. I teach in a block away from the rest of the dept, and everyone in the dept is a very experienced teacher in their own rights. While I’ve mentioned what I’ve been doing, and people have been down to see the projects from time to time, I haven’t had to worry about writing it up for other people. In fact, I suspect it’s the freedom FROM that that has played a large part in being able to try out lots of new ideas without worrying to much about having to get other people to follow in my footsteps.

However, for a range of reasons, we’re now reconsidering not what we teach, but how we teach, especially at KS3, and the time has come to start sharing my experiences and starting to spread some of that practice across the department.

But I’m aware that where I am NOW, is in large part because of the experiences of the last two years. The time spent volunteering in one of our feeder primary schools, the connections I’ve made online, reading up on Project Based Learning and sharing ideas with people at conferences and teachmeets.

I’m worried that dumping these projects and these approaches on teachers who haven’t shared that journey with me might not work. Will they get the ‘why’? Will they make the investment in time and passion?

 

On the other hand, reading that last paragraph back, I sound like a complete idiot. Of course they’ll make them work – they’re professionals.

 

So why the nagging voice?

 

Ah, maybe this is it…

I think it’s because it’s not about the projects. It’s my view of ME in the class and in relation to the class that’s changed so much over the last two years. That’s one of the things that makes the projects work and I don’t know how to write that into a scheme of work, or deliver it in an inset.

I’ve written before that one of the biggest problems with the idea of ‘sharing best practice’ in education is the underlying misconception that you can something that works in one school (or one classroom) and put it into another school (or classroom) and will have the same positive effect. It doesn’t. And it’s partly because the people are different. Not that the second school or classroom has worse teachers in it, but it has teachers with a different view of themselves and education.  So like taking a tube of deep heat because it made your back better, and applying to your haemorrhoids in the same hope, sometimes it’s just the wrong cure.

So, I’ll write up the projects, share them with my friends in the department and try and find some time (that most precious of teacher resources) to spend with them – just talking through how it’s gone, sending the odd link or video clip now and again and try and see if I can share the buzz that you get when something just works and the wall that you need to put up to block out the nagging voices about whether or not they know enough facts or if they have enough written in their books!

If I’ve been willing to try and fail and learn with my students for the last two years, I’m going to need to the same now with the staff.

 

Dave Stacey

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