Transparent Teaching

One of the sessions that helped blow my mind at the #EdChatNZ conference was Alyx Gillett’s session on teaching transparently. Her idea is…

…that teaching and learning should be as open and collaborative as possible. Students, teachers, parents, faculty, colleagues and peers should be able to see and articulate not only what but how and why we are learning.

This struck a chord with me.

Last year I returned to full-time teaching after three years out of the classroom. Returning was a true baptism of fire. In the three years away I had totally dispensed with any memories of precisely how insane the workload was. I fully admit the first six months of 2013 was a real struggle trying to insert myself back into the teaching groove.

During this struggle things lapsed – particularly my planning. Pressures of time led to much ad-libbing of learning. Literacy and maths I planned well for, but other things not so well. As the year continued things did get better and I now feel I am on top of things.

These are all excuses for not doing giving my learners the opportunities they deserve, but they do provide some context as to why Alyx’s presentation had such an impact on me and my decision to change the course of what and how I am doing what I am doing.

As reflective practitioners, teachers owe it to their learners to be the best they can be. We must reflect on what we are doing and question ourselves and our practice. Is what we are doing the best for our learners? Can we do things better? If we need to reform, how do we reform?

In essence I have spent much of the last year asking the hard questions of myself through our Teaching as Inquiry professional development. Having given myself a swift boot in the pedagogy, I am determined to continue filling the gaps as I move forward.

So as part of my quest to utterly reform my teaching practice I have written a comprehensive plan for what will be coming up in the class. I’ve listed the what and the how but I’ve also asked why we will be studying what we are. Today I messaged all my students giving them access to the planning for our upcoming unit on pioneer New Zealanders. You might also want a look at it. In this new era of collaboration please do feel free to offer suggestions. Twitter has already been a great help during this planning mission. I am feeling most positive about it.

Opening yourself up in this way can be harrowing, but also cathartic. I am finding the latter to be more relevant at the present.

Enjoy your week!

Mike

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6 thoughts on “Transparent Teaching

  1. I’ve had a really similar experience to you, coming back to teaching after being out of the classroom for around 3 years or so. I’m a primary teacher but when I came back to teaching I taught Yr 9/10 for a bit then worked for CYF and this year started back teaching Yr 7/8. I love my job but oh man was I overwhelmed for the first few months! I feel like I am pretty open with my students and colleagues about my planning and teaching, but I really like the idea of being transparent also providing a sense of collaborative accountability. This term we have trie out a much more student constructed program which is great, but I have definitely felt a little like I am making it up as I go along and would like to be a bit more intentional about it particularly to give my students some kind of framework to work within and also to support those who find it difficult to have so much independence. Thanks for sharing your plan, it is so useful to see what other teachers are doing!

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    • I know what you mean. I have a handful of students who have particular needs unsuited to that fully independent self-directed learning. I’m finding I rely on my independent workers to go it alone while I go one on three with them. That’s going to be another post.
      Let me know how you go or whether you want bash some ideas around.

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      • Yeah, me too. Which as I’m sure you’re aware has its up and downsides! I think I’m going to post about it too, it’d be great to chat about it and see what ideas each other has, too!

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      • Totally. I hooked up with Amy from Hobsonville Pt Primary on google hangout last week. That’s what they all used to organise the conferences. There’s no reason we can’t use it for collaboration too!

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      • Definitely! Do you use Google+ much? I just found you on there and added you to my ed circle so we could set up a hangout sometime when we’re free 🙂

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      • Have only just started since #edchatnz – to keep in tough with all the Google teachers. Plus – I’m not on Facebook.

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