I’ve been meaning to reflect on the Staff Development Day (SDD) that took place on our first day back in Term 2, but the impending departure of the Jones collective overseas has left me with too few spare moments to sit down and write.
When the focus for the SDD was revealed at our executive meeting, I groaned inwardly. Quality Teaching and coding of example lessons were to be the main thrust of the day. I didn’t groan because I didn’t think it was important, for indeed I do. I believe that the quest for quality teaching is an admirable (indeed essential) cause for modern teachers, and an ongoing one.
My greatest fear was of the impression that many teachers have of the QT framework. Whilst many, if not all, of the teachers I know are aware of what the QT Framework is all about, many worry about not KNOWING it. Like kids cramming for an exam, they make the mistake of trying to know ALL of it. I’ve never tried to know it all. I’ve cherry picked what I think are the kernels at the center of QT, tried a few things and watched what happened. I was worried that as soon as QT was mentioned, the pooh poohing would start.
I was pleasantly surprised. In fact, the day was quite good in one particular way, and that was when cross curricular groups were formed and we reflected on a lesson that we regarded as our “best lesson ever”. It was great to hear of what worked in lessons, as they were all good news stories. I shamelessly plugged a Laptop Wrap that I had designed, partly because it did engage a hard-to-engage class, but also because I wanted to introduce to the group, as a captive audience, the possibility that tech was a viable engagement option.
One thing that became apparent was that Core subjects with external exams in the junior school (English, Maths, Science & HSIE) were caught between the rock that is external credentialing and the hard place of making examinable work engaging and significant. Many spoke of loving to have the time to ‘play and have fun’, but a definite timeline of teaching, assessment and exams didn’t allow them to stray too far off course for the exams. During my talk on the Laptop Wrap is spoke about how I could make it engaging because the work was posited in the real world, and had the kids create real world projects. To me, that significance leads to Deep Knowledge and Deep Understanding.
“But you don’t have external exams to prepare for” said the Maths guy. “Its’ like algebra…” he said. “Try to tell a kid they’ll use that in the real world, and they can’t see it, but its in the exam”.
This raised some issues for me:
- Striking a balance between exam preparation and engagement leading to Deeper Knowledge or Understanding is crucial for both students and teachers.
- How can teachers (and for that case, their employers) maximise the effectiveness of teaching 21st Century students, when they subscribe to 20th century ideals of format and structure
- And how do you put algebra in the real world?
I still reckon that last one is the toughest!