If you actually look like your passport photo, you aren’t well enough to travel. ~ Sir Vivian Fuchs
For the last few years I have been working with others in my school on a consciously-developed, research-based and teacher-driven model for teacher growth and professional collaboration. Our work over the research and pilot years has been based in some central assumptions around learning, school change and leadership: that all teachers have the capacity for reflection and growth; that going slowly and deliberately will result in more positive roll-out; that leadership is distributed; and that leaders are responsible for facilitating the self-driven self-managed learning of others, rather than telling, advising and solving.
Pleasingly, our work so far seems to be fostering that which it originally set out to cultivate by:
- developing a common language for and shared understanding of ‘good teaching’;
- strengthening professional culture by connecting teachers across the school, and by formalising professional conversations about teaching practice;
- depersonalising classrooms, with teachers more open to and familiar with having others in their lessons;
- providing a formalised process of reflection which is meaningful to teachers, allowing them to improve their teaching and develop their capacity for reflection while honouring their individuality and respecting their capabilities; and
- supporting teachers as leaders and experts, both in their collaboration with others and in their own capacity for self-reflection and growth.
Our experience continues to be that our work on teacher growth has subtle immeasurable ‘butterfly effects’ across our teaching, relationships and communities.
Sitting in the departure lounge at Sydney International Airport I am reflecting upon what I might find during my time in New York visiting educators, researchers, trailblazers and edu-organisations. It’s time to ride on a big jet plane and find out.