For the first time this school year - about half way through now - I have time to sit back and think about what is working and what is not, as well as what I'm doing well in and where I can improve.
Over the last few weeks, as Qld teachers and schools continue to bear the fallout of the Master's Review and the ensuing comments in the media (many made by those who think they know all about being a teacher) I've been involved with a number of conversations with other teachers, our Head of Curriculum, friends, my husband and other fellow members and random people I catch out in the street (well not so much the randoms), about what teachers and schools need more of to increase student performance.
The regulars are all there - money for resources, better facilities, testing that makes sense, a refill in the lolly jar - but there are some other more serious topics that arise (not that the lolly jar isn't serious).
One that comes up a lot is the kind of in-service/professional development we get as teachers. Earlier this year I, along with all the other Year 4-7 teachers in the state, were shipped off to a 5 day literacy training course. During this time, I learned one new thing I could use in the classroom (from the presenters, anyway. My peers gave me considerably more knowledge.) While this was a worthwhile thing to learn, it wasn't worth 25 hours away from my students.
It's a recurrent theme with professional development. Many times they are someone talking at us, with little thought for the different learning styles or previous knowledge which may already exist. So when someone tells teachers (in the newspaper) that they need more in-service in Grammar (or maths, or science, or whatever we're failing in this week) it gets me a little irritated.
I think this is because I use reflection to work out where I'm doing well and where I could improve. I then build on this with personal reading, watching lectures and listening to pod casts. I search out new ways to teach and try them before reflecting again. Over the four years I've been teaching, I've built up a good understanding of how I teach, what my teaching philosophy is and where I want to go next. None of which will be improved by another 'talk-at-a-large-hemogenous-group' professional development.
I honestly believe that a greater focus on teacher reflection and the chance to shape our own professional development, using the tools we have available (and with the internet we have access to the best minds in the world) will create more professional teachers in Queensland, along with improved results.
In that vein - how do you reflect on the work you do (what ever that work may be) and do you undertake any of your own professional development?
My reflection master list