Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT)

Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT)

My name is Linda Shardlow and I would like to introduce myself, and my role, to the school community. At the start of this year, I was appointed to the role of Director of Staff Learning and Research. I am also the Director of the school’s Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT).

“For classrooms to be cultures of thinking, schools have to be cultures of thinking for teachers”[1]

The term school culture generally refers to the beliefs, perceptions, relationships, attitudes, and written and unwritten rules that shape and influence every aspect of how a school functions.

We would like our students to leave school as adults with an openness to learning and a sense of agency, which is a sense that they have the understanding, knowledge and skills with which to actively and positively interact with the world and enact change.

Education traditionally focused on the known; involving passing on a body of knowledge and transference of content. Education for the unknown (typically called the “21st Century skillset”, somewhat ironically given we are now in 2018!) has become our new focus. Imitative mastery of a routine body of knowledge won’t assist students to operate effectively in a world of complexity and change where the capacity to learn, unlearn and re-learn quickly is more valuable. Our students need to be able to cope with the unfamiliar and lean into challenge, persevere to increase ‘frustration tolerance’, think creatively and critically, have an open-minded disposition in order to problem-solve through reflecting on the efficacy of alternative solution pathways, make multiple connections and transfer that thinking between various contexts. They need to be able to communicate, and make visible, their thinking. They need to be open to mistakes as a necessary part of learning development and the associated instructive implications of error-making. They need to be able to work well both in interdependent and self-directed ways, and evaluate when one mode is better than another. They need to be able to choose the correct tool for the job and they need to be mindful of themselves as learners to better direct their learning pathways and their ways of living and being in a world of diversity and change.

And so do their teachers. Teachers are learners too.  Parents may be aware of the Principal’s Unicorn Series. The first event for 2018 was held on March 5 and featured a Question & Answer panel discussion on “What Makes a Good Teacher?” We were delighted to see some of our parents in attendance. Although somewhat obvious, one of the aspects of good teaching is that which leads to good learning.

The learning of staff needs to positively affect student learning outcomes. This is its prime, yet not only, focus. John Munro wrote[2] of the importance for schools to have “pedagogic capital”, the teaching power of a school. Part of my role is to not only accelerate the development of the school‘s ‘teaching power’ but also the power of ALL learners within the school and its broader community. Munro asserted that school leadership teams have an important role to play in developing a positive learning community and support an innovative, action-research based and collaborative approach to investigating issues associated with learning. The institution itself should thus take on responsibility to provide the climate, and the means, by which teachers can build capacity and adapt their current levels of expertise as available research becomes known.

It’s about asking the right questions about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. It isn’t about re-stating what is known but, rather, critically exploring and evaluating our own practices, taking educated risks, taking notice of the effects of these explorations and scaling up those that had the most impact on learning.

We are living in a particularly exciting time for education. We currently have a sufficiently large body of evidence that allows us to know what classroom practices and what professional learning practices will deliver the most effective learning outcomes for our students. We also have the technological means by which to share ideas and knowledge and collaborate as we have never had before.

My role is an opportunity to collaborate with, support and extend the reach of the school community, as we seek together to positively influence learning behaviours and educational outcomes and move from current, to best, to next practice.

Ms Linda Shardlow
Director of the school’s Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT).

 

[1] Ron Ritchhart – at AISV’s Establishing and Sustaining Professional Learning Communities inservice February 29, 2008

[2] Pedagogic Capital: An Essential Concept for Effective School Leaders in CSE Seminar Series No. 161, February 2007

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