Teachers owning their learning…

Have you ever been presented with PD and then had no time to follow up?

How often do you have an uninterrupted chunk of time to inquire into something that interests you, to push your thinking and improve your practice?

Do you have enough opportunities to explore and think collaboratively, to unpack and discuss big ideas with others of varied experience?

On Monday we will have a half day of professional learning, different to any of our previous PD days. It’s based on a survey in which staff  indicated their preferences for the structure and content of the day.

Here’s what it said on the Google doc which was shared with teachers:

This table shows by far the most popular choices in our survey. Please put your name in the group you’d like to join. Use red if you are willing to facilitate the group inquiry (more than one person is fine!) Note: There will NOT be a presentation. The purpose is to work on a shared inquiry.

I have no idea how the morning will go, but, here’s what I do know…

  • Teachers should have ownership of their learning, just as children should.
  • Having choice in what and how you learn is powerful for all learners.
  • Teachers voted for time to inquire in small groups.
  • Teachers chose what they would like to work on.
  • The volunteer facilitators have taken their role seriously and done a great deal of thinking in advance.
  • The most meaningful professional learning I have experienced has been by teachers for teachers.
  • It is rare to have a chunk of time at school to explore something you want to take further.
  • You never know if a new idea will work till you try it!
  • If this is successful, next year we will extend it further…

A friend commented on the fact that I often write about innovations, before they happen. He thinks it demonstrates confidence on my part, since I am willing to blog before the vision becomes reality. Maybe. Or maybe not. Perhaps blogging in advance means that if it’s a failure, I can simply avoid writing about what went wrong! Or  (more likely) … I like the excitement of visualising and planning new learning experiences, even if I can’t predict the outcome. Watch this space… maybe!

24 thoughts on “Teachers owning their learning…

  1. Thank you. I often find your blog insightful and interesting.

    I recently took 6 months long service leave and after a much needed break of a few months, found myself doing my own inquiry learning. It was invigorating and having the time to actually do it is what kept me going. Back at work now I am putting my inquiry into practise
    and I’m loving it! My principal has even asked me to share my work with the staff.


  2. Wow! Thank you for putting into words how many of us feel. You have made some excellent points. I sit with my photographs in one folder and rough notes in another but two months later, my blog is not yet started….. This sounds like a wonderful, open-ended professional development plan.


    1. Sam, who did a workshop with us recently ( see earlier post) said that at his school teachers were given two days to do whatever they liked/ needed… It seems they used their time very wisely.. Something to explore! Requires trust on the part of admin, and why not?


  3. Great idea for your PD day! Maybe not possible but wouldn’t it be great if some one was able to document the types of questions they asked in the session using something like Google documents? Then as a follow up the teachers could choose to add in their possible answers and you could people like myself to provide information on areas that you are unsure of?

    Probably a crazy idea and a bit personally motivated as I’m interested to know their questions on blogging and social media because it helps me help everyone better.


    1. Hi Sue and Edna, the follow up is really important. Whenever I present now, I create a google document with the resources that I am sharing, contact details, an opportunity for session participants to share contact details and an area for questions. I encourage the participants to earmark that google doc and to use it. Depending on who is in the audience, I can get quite a lot of questions after the event, which I do sit down and answer for them.


      1. Hi Anne

        You are right, that’s a great idea for presentations. But the difference is that this is not a presentation. It’s a small group of teachers at my school exploring for themselves how they can take their blogs further.We are constantly working within the school with different groups on this. It’ll be great to have Sue Skype in for a while, but I am not sure how the idea of questions for later will pan out. Game to try anything though!!


  4. Hi Edna

    Always happy to Skype in. Best option that works is if you can have video skype of the room as it helps me with pace (ie making sure I’m explaining at an appropriate level). But would also love list of their questions for later reflections because i’m reflective and often I’ll think of things later that I didn’t think of during OR I’ll get others to share their thoughts.


  5. “I have no idea how the morning will go” – Edna

    I can tell you that your time of professional learning is going to be a roaring success. You are modelling to the teachers how they should provide learning experiences for their students. Collaboration, flexibility, choice, communication and personalisation are vital. Please tell us how it goes.


  6. I participated in this session and was invigorated. I have often had the experiece of leaving a proffesional learning day, feeling like I have the world on my shoulders. Yesterday I felt like I was flying. I did the session on Twitter and am well and truely hooked. I see the possibilities for my future learning and I am so excited by that.


  7. Thanks so much for sharing this Edna. We need more if this kind if PD in all schools. I hope you will blog about how it goes- I would love to hear of the positives and the challenges- much to be learned from both!


  8. Hi Edna,
    I use the same approach for developing PL as we have gone 1to 1 with iPads which has caused a huge change in pedagogy etc -a workshop approach utilising the teachers as facilitators and sometimes I use our students. I am working on tweeking it as it requires more time allocation.
    Great idea!


  9. Love this. It’s criminal that it’s only an annual event! Would love to know more about the survey. Secondary or primary teachers? Private or mainstream? How many. When….
    Thanks. Creative collaboration for students & teachers would make learning so much more exciting & engaging.
    Thank you :0)


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