We’ve had the pleasure of welcoming Stephen Heppell back to the diocese. Stephen spent three days during the last week of term 3 at one of our secondary schools to challenge teacher thinking and deepen student engagement.
It’s always engaging to hear someone as passionate as Stephen talk to teachers about the opportunities and challenges of learning in today’s world. Ask Stephen and his response is that students can do anything if they are challenged, engaged, inspired etc. Ask many secondary teachers and they will tell you how constrained they are by rigid timetables and syllabus requirements.
These are the realities faced by teachers everywhere and until governments change the policy from testing and assessing to learning and teaching it will stay the same. This is a clarion call to stop playing the game – to develop our own policies and use the expertise, experience, and professional judgement to look beyond what has always been in schooling.
We don’t need excuses, we need action. The government wants an education revolution then let’s give them a real one. As someone once observed, a crisis is a terrible thing to waste! And let’s start with teachers sharing their own practice of what is good learning and teaching. This has to be our policy framework.
I am not sure why there is still such trepidation to change schooling – perhaps it is the fear of not having all the answers or a single road-map! The good news is we have the tools, the experience of innovative teachers and the voices of students to forge our own paths.
As Stephen says the curriculum requirements are just one corner of the classroom so what is happening in the other three? I believe the greatest challenge for systems and leaders and the profession itself is giving teachers the green-light; supporting them to take risks and to experiment with new learning tools.
There is great liberation in realising that you don’t have to be an expert in IT to be a good teacher. Good teachers will continually look for new ways of improving learning outcomes using the tools available including the design of learning spaces.
Stephen told our teachers that the only way to move forward is to work in partnership with students – to involve them in decision-making; to challenge them to set (and reach) their own targets and to see what is possible rather than what is expected.