The Master of Ed is all done and dusted now with the submission of the final assignment at the end of last year. The assignment, not a full blown thesis but rather a more manageable double credit professional inquiry paper, focused on Professional Collaborative Inquiry and Technology.
The driving force for the inquiry was to support my belief that professional inquiry (aka teacher as inquiry in NZ), is significantly enhanced through a collaborative model where teachers and school leaders work alongside each other to share, discuss and analyse problems of practice and together, using their collective expertise, plan, implement and review a range of approaches to improve outcomes for their learners. Especially relevant too in schools adopting a team teaching/innovative learning environment approach.
It seems so logical and simple and there is plenty of research to support such an approach, yet I believe there are still high proportions of schools where teachers are inquiring in isolation. Problems of practice should be owned by the whole school, not by one teacher!
If you are interested in reading my report, here it is.
So what about the implications and flow on effect into my leadership practice. Completing this report only confirmed my beliefs around the collaborative approach and it is now embedded within our school’s professional inquiry and performance management process.
We view teaching as inquiry as the foundation of professional learning and development and we are emphasising teachers engaging in a collaborative teacher inquiry alongside each other and their learners.
Learner involvement is a key ingredient, and something that through the research was not strongly documented. I believe that the best person to talk about their learning is the learner and their thinking about what would make them improve is vital in developing theories of improvement.
Our inquiry is designed to happen on 2 levels; collaboration between teachers, and, collaboration between teachers and learners. (One immediate question you may ask is “Where do the parents fit into it?” and is a good one, but for this context the focus was on the inquiry, with how and when we collaborate with parents is documented in a complimentary system).
Working in partnership with other teachers will allow for collaborative;Working in partnership with learners will allow for;
- data collection and analysis
- problem solving
- developing theories of improvement
- planning and goal setting
- observation and feedback
- team teaching
- review and reflection
- development and sharing of replicable approaches.
- learner voice and learner choice
- active learner involvement in decision making about their learning
- personalised and differentiated learning
- opportunities for self directed learning
- ako (reciprocal learning)
- whanaungatanga (relationships)
The diagram above is an attempt to visualise this approach, with more thinking and development to come.
Perhaps one of the best resources that has shaped my thinking has been this text:
It provides ample background into the why of collaboration, not only within schools but between schools. I would suggest anyone who is part of or currently planning for a Community of Learning should definitely read this book, and anyone looking at reviewing or implementing collaborative practices in their own school would find great value in it.
Since having completed this paper and introduced some change, two publications have since crossed my desk which and additional weight to my the collaborative approach is a must. These are the ERO report Raising student achievement through targeted actions and Hattie’s What Works Best in Education: The Politics of Collaborative Expertise.
More to come on what these mean for us and our learners.