This year, an extremely passionate colleague put me onto the work of George Couros.
I am a keen follower of George’s blog, particularly his posts relating to leadership and change. As an aspiring leader, I am fascinated by George’s innovation, passion and commitment to building teacher capacity and creating collaborative communities in schools. You can access his blog here.
One of George’s recent posts about A New Staff Experience has got me thinking about the need to invest into our staff and to make the most of professional development opportunities, particularly Staff Meetings.
George comments on the need to engage staff in their professional learning, just as we would engage students in their learning. We need to recognise that teachers are at different places in their learning journey, just like the students we teach. Therefore, shouldn’t our Staff Meetings and PD days reflect this in some way.
I loved George’s example about blogging. He writes:
We spend a lot of time in schools telling people about how teaching and learning should look. Yet, how do we create opportunities for them to experience it? I watch a lot of schools talking about things like blogging initiatives with students, yet their own staff have never blogged. How do you teach something that you have never done? More importantly, how do you have people embrace the unknown? Well, my belief is that you make it known.
I felt it was imperative for our students to use blogging to create digital portfolios of their learning. It was essential that staff blogged as well. To create this, I did not simply say, “Thou shalt blog,” but I actually did it myself first. I spent time doing something that I wanted to trickle down to staff and students. It is easy to say, “Do this.” It is more important to say, “Let’s do this together.”
Jumping into blogging and seeing the amazing opportunity that it had created to reflect, collaborate and make learning transparent, we started to give this opportunity to staff. For example, on one staff Professional Development Day on a Monday, staff were asked to have a blog post written for Friday to share with others. The catch was that if they did not feel comfortable doing it on their own, we would provide time at the beginning of our staff day for them to have support. For the staff that were able to do this on their own, they had the opportunity to come in later. If it is a priority, you will put time and resources into it. If you do not put those two elements in place, it is not priority. That simple.