Who is my class?

When ‘Teacher Professional Learning and Development: Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration (BES)‘ was published in 2007, we invited one of the lead authors, Professor Helen Timperley to speak about the teacher inquiry cycle and its effect on improved learning outcomes.

More than a decade on, we are still referring to the ‘inquiry cycle’ in our conversations within the office and in schools. One of the themes from Timperley’s keynote was the concept of ‘Who is your class?’.

Within a classroom, it is the ability of the teacher to identify the skills and knowledge students need, which determines the skills and knowledge the teacher needs in order to deepen professional practice, develop expertise and so on.

As Timperley explained, the ‘class’ extends beyond the classroom. It relates to school leaders identifying the skills and knowledge teachers need and system leaders identifying the skills and knowledge school leaders need. This idea of collaborative inquiry leading to collaborative learning and teaching was one of the reasons I began a weekly video conference call with school leaders.

Each Monday morning, I invite four school leaders to speak openly about the learning needs of their school communities. It has become part of our professional practice yet when I floated the idea with school leaders several years back, it was met with reticence.

For me, the why was made clearer after hearing Timperley speak because the process of inquiry is how we learn to do the work better through targeted action and critical reflection. Over time, our leaders have come to appreciate the open dialogue, inquiry, mentoring and accountable to each other.

As another school term ends, I’ve been thinking ahead to next year and how we expand ‘the class’ to include school leadership teams. Luckily technology makes all of this possible but the real power comes through the collective inquiry into new and effective ways of learning and teaching.

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