Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What and How are we Teaching... and are our Students Learning?

Over the past two days I've been fortunate to attend the I Love Teaching Conference in Invercargill, New Zealand.  Every two years a group of educators passionate about teaching and learning, put together a conference that is always energizing and always thought-provoking.  If you don't go away from the conferences inspired to make a change in your practice then, perhaps, you are in the wrong profession.

The theme of this year's conference was about remembering why we went into teaching in the first place.  To quote the Conference Convenor, Marlene Campbell:   "In challenging educational times, we wanted to remind educators of their passion for the job they do; and to refresh their love for their craft: hence the "I Love Teaching" brand for this event."  

Speakers included:  
Professor Francoys Gagne - developed a theory of talent development - the Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent.  (DMGT)

Dr Jeni Wilson - a proponent of reflective and personalised teaching and learning and meeting the needs of the 21st Century learner.

James Nottingham - the developer of p4c - Philosophy for Children and director of Sustained Success - his own company.  James delivers powerful methods about feedback - the good, the bad and the ugly!  He explains why praise feedback is ineffective and why process feedback is essential.

Allie Mooney - Allie delivers fantastic - and entertaining - messages about the different personalities we come across in life... and how to appreciate and value those differences.

Wilson McCaskill -  Director of The Game Factory one of the most passionate and energetic proponents of teachers and teaching on the planet!  His key message is to value the children we teach and to help them develop self-management strategies.  His Play is the Way programme has much to offer in these areas.

Graham Watts - Graham is a developer of thinking and learning programmes and an Associate Director for the Habits of Mind for the UK and Europe.  His practical ideas for the classroom are inspiring but, most of all, he encourages us to take a critical look at what we do as teachers and whether we are heading in the right direction for our 21st Century learners.  Looking at the future of education - where are we heading and how is it going to look in the next 100 years?

Each of these speakers had important messages to share so I'll devote separate posts to each of them and how their messages are so important in our classrooms - and for the future of education if we're going to meet the needs of our 21st Century learners.  Are we really the 21st Century teachers we think we are??

The greatest message I've taken away is:  Are we teaching children HOW to learn or WHAT to learn? Which is more valuable??

As part of my postgrad degree I've been reading an enormous amount - no exaggeration! - of research around just these issues and, as it's an area of passion for me, I think this is what will ultimately guide what I research as part of the degree and where my teaching and learning will lead me in the next stage of my own learning.

The speakers had so much to offer and, to reflect on this, I think they need their own posts.

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