You can lead a horse…



We speak so often about the need to differentiate, personalise, and scaffold our teaching programs to our students to ensure that what is being taught is done so in a way that engages, enhances and gives purpose for the students at their particular point of learning need.

I am a big believer in building teacher capacity in a variety of ways which of course then has a direct flow on effect for the learners that a particular teacher is responsible for. Being in a role that oversees the effective use use of technology across 1900 students and 220 staff is, well, a large role, however one that is supported by a host of staff whose own skill sets and capabilities in using technology to support learning is outstanding. Those supportive staff have a particular drive and passion for continual self improvement that they are very willing to share with those around them and that is the difference that sets them apart.

I am a large believer that professional learning for teachers must be invested in heavily by schools if education is to progress in that particular setting. The challenge I find is that some settings do not either place a high enough focus towards this, do it in a way which is the opposite to what we should be doing, as mentioned earlier with our own students, that being said, providing a professional learning culture amongst staff that disengages, does not enhance capacity and has little to no purpose. The other issue I see is professional learning being driven based on the needs of the college or school, and not the staff, and there is a very large difference between the two.

I am pleased to say that I have attended some absolutely outstanding professional learning in my time. PL that has been engaging and had me thinking and challenging my own pedagogical practices and educational paradigms. PL that has been hands on with a focus on creativity and innovation and thinking in ways that I would perhaps normally not. I feel that these professional learning events were, and are rare. My recent trips via Apple to the ADE Institutes in Bali and San Diego, as well as attending the GTA in Sydney in 2011 certainly were (rare) examples of the above. The focus on these accounts were teachers becoming the learning and learning at points of need. Teachers knowing their own strengths and weaknesses and building their professional learning around these.

Recently I have delivered alot of professional learning to educators both within and certainly without of my college setting. This is something that I really enjoy and is a great part of my role. The fact that I can model lessons for other staff, assist them through planning processes, observe and deconstruct taught lessons as well as deliver more formal means of PL all allow me to assist in the building of teacher capacity. I think, or believe for the most part, I am very good at this. I am passionate about working with staff and it is this passion which drives me going forward. There are times that I have delivered professional learning that has not been wholly effective however and I have used these few experiences to better my own capabilities for future scenarios.

In saying all of the above I am keen to determine how I can better, or… be more effective at building teacher capacity. Does this comes down to the way in which I present and run professional learning, or am I needing to focus more upon inspiring staff before I worry about adding to their skill sets?

Regardless, I feel that I am needing to get more of a ‘buy in’ from staff to better and further improve their own practice. The image below sums it best.

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 8.26.28 am


Finding the time to run professional learning in a teacher’s, or teaching team’s hectic schedule can be very difficult. What is not difficult unfortunately is finding excuses to not run the professional learning. A personal goal from here forward is to ensure I keep working hard in supporting staff to build their own pedagogy no matter the focus, or lack of time. What will go a long in supporting this is that ‘buy-in’ from staff to want to improve. A want and desire to better their practice to ensure that they are delivering the highest quality teaching and learning programs that they can offer.

You could say that I will not force the horse to water if it is not thirsty. Teaching reluctant learners does not improve when I force content upon them. What does work however is finding ways in which to engage and hook them into wanting to learn and to improve… and this is my (exciting) challenge.

Watch. This. Space.



  1. Great post Corrie. Professional development is a massive challenge in and out of school. For example, I found the recent #DLVT2014 Conference was awesome because it was practical and personable. However, after reflecting, I wondered whether this was because I sort to get the most of my experience http://readingwritingresponding.blogspot.com.au/2014/08/creative-expression-as-form-of-eduvoice.html I think that it is so easy to fall into the trap of making excuses as to why we can’t do something or why a particular vision for the future isn’t possible http://readingwritingresponding.blogspot.com.au/2014/06/are-excuses-holding-us-back.html Sadly, an emphasis on accountability in regards to the recent P&D changes does not help either http://readingwritingresponding.blogspot.com.au/2014/03/when-assessment-of-performance-is-not.html I guess in the end the best thing that we can do is to work together to achieve a better education for all.

  2. Again, heaps to think about, Corrie. Thanks. I’ve grown to doubt specifically asking staff to “buy in” to a new process, program or pedagogy. Sadly, some staff recoil at the notion of doing something because they are asked to, and some great ideas – and not so great – fall over with only 10% working towards a goal. Teachers can be a highly cynical bunch at times, and I guess aiming to build a critical mass in any movement can make all the difference. As with “The Lone Nut”, sticking to your guns and picking up followers along the way works. The Lone Nut has “evidence” that what he is doing works. He’s having an absolute blast, which validates the experience for everyone else. If he was too serious with his dancing (giving off a vibe that it’s not working) the outcome may have been different. This really applies to teaching. Make it look hard and they run away…easy, and you have a chance.
    Maybe buy-in comes more easily from providing proof something new actually benefits both students and teachers. This can be hard when teaching very different subjects, because as you say, there’s always a reason why “it can’t be done”. The great up-skill challenge rolls on! Cheers, great read!

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