My TEFL Story of Significant Impact

Here in South Australia, we have a pedagogical guide known as TfEL (Teaching for Effective Learning) which is the how that backs onto the what of the Australian Curriculum.

From the Guide:

What is the SA TfEL Framework?
Just as a compass guides navigation, the SA TfEL Framework provides an ‘internal compass’ for guiding our designs for learning  and decision making about our practice. It gives us confidence that  our professional practice incorporates the most recent evidence and  understandings about learning and teaching that maximise student engagement and achievement.

My school has a TfEL specialist teacher who has provided professional learning for our staff, conducted research and supported teachers in their familiarisation and implementation of the TfEL Framework. She has been incredible but like all good things, her tenure is drawing to a conclusion at the end of 2012 as the department re-prioritises some of its expenditure. As part of the project completion, all staff have been asked to write a short “most significant impact story” that tells of the Framework’s impact on their pedagogy. As a new leader and someone coming in six months later than everyone else in the new school, I wasn’t sure what to write. Only one of these stories will be chosen to tell a perspective from our school. So the likelihood of mine making any further than my desktop and the specialist teacher’s eyes  are slim. I personally would want a story from a classroom to represent our school any way because that is the important place I would want TfEL to be making the most positive difference.

But for posterity and my own learning, I will post up my story for others to read and query.

Personalisation of Staff PD

Story of Significant Impact by Graham Wegner, Assistant Principal (Learning Technologies & Admin), Woodville Gardens School B-7

a.

My role includes the provision of Professional Development in the early of Learning Technologies for my colleagues. I have attended a lot of this PD during my career and delivered a significant amount of technology focussed training and Professional Learning sessions over the last ten years. It has always been ironic that as a classroom teacher, I would design learning that catered for individuals with multiple entry and exit points but teacher focussed PD still seemed to be a one-size-fits-all model where everyone received the same information or worked through the same activities using the same tools.

Earlier this term, I had a staff Professional Learning time allocated for eLearning which was focussed on having the staff explore the use of PBWorks as a wiki based tool which could be used as a linking off point of entry to the internet for their students. In the past, I would have designed a lock step process to lead the whole group paced so that no one got left behind. But this model, as with students, has problems with providing the right balance between support for the less experienced and freedom to move ahead for the more confident and savvy. So this year, I have moved to making staff PD closer to the way I would approach a group of younger learners. I have made conscious efforts to design the learning using tools like Understanding by Design in a manner similar to designing an inquiry unit.

I attended a PLC session earlier in the day focussed on Learning Intentions and Success Criteria run by our TEFL specialist, Louise Barker. As we discussed what these looked like in the classroom, it became clear to me that I needed the same thing for my staff PD session. As the PLC continued, I started to re-design my approach for later that day, rewriting the Learning Intention into a WALT “create links in an online space”. I added a second part to show the value of what I wanted the staff to engage with by using TIB (This Is Because) “we can then create and develop an online space for your students to easily access a wide range of digital resources.” Finally, I added in WILF (What I’m Looking For) otherwise known as the Success Criteria – (i) you can create and edit your own space  (ii) you can add hyperlinks to important digital resources & (iii) you develop and use a strategy for find, add and review links in your space.

Lousie had also used a road metaphor that categorised learners by comfort level and confidence which I seconded for the session. This way, the confident could move ahead without feeling constrained but the less confident could seek more structured and incremental help. These elements created clarity around the purpose of the session, and empowered the staff to find their own comfort level in engaging with the learning, and the purpose behind that learning. I received very positive feedback from many colleagues about the value of the learning and how it enabled them to be successful without feeling pressured. Other leaders complimented me on the session as a solid example of how to cater for a wide range of adult learners, and act as a template for other staff running their own PD sessions.

b.

I can see great value in carrying over these key ideas (Learning Intentions and Success Criteria) which we want to be integral in our students’ learning and applying it to the staff PD to show that these concepts don’t just apply to students but to any learners.

 

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