Exceptional Teaching for Collaborative Learning
Presented by Erica McWilliam

We have known for some time that learning is a social process. But we also know that, when young people imitate what their teachers do in classrooms, many still mimic teachers talking endlessly from the front of the classroom. The inevitable result of too much teacher talk in the classroom is student passivity, and passivity is the great enemy of learning. This is exacerbated when the talkative teacher uses ‘death by dotpoint’ Powerpoint summaries to ‘cover content’ before high stakes assessment. And the problem has not been mitigated by the advent of digital devices on student desks. When the ‘thousand-dollar-pencil’ meets ‘type-and-pray’ on Google, the learning culture is even less likely to be vibrant or collaborative. As a result, many well-intentioned teachers, from novice to experienced, are still struggling to build and sustain collaborative learning in their classrooms.


There are exceptional K-12 teachers, however, who really know how to design for, and engage their students collaboratively in, low threat, high challenge learning. Their students are introduced to the pleasure of the rigour of engagement with complex ideas and processes. Such teachers create learning environments in which individual students at all levels of growth and ability are given access to the best thinking and doing in their classrooms. Peer-with-peer engagement is a cornerstone of their pedagogy, augmented with judicious use of virtual tools and evidence-based technique.

The workshops draw on the practices of such teachers as observed and mentored by Erica in her current work as a consultant to Australian schools. The day’s program is designed to introduce teachers in both single sex and co-educational schools to the approaches and techniques of these highly effective teachers, ie, what they actually do to build and sustain collaborative learning cultures in their classrooms from day one, class one.

The workshops are underpinned by the following assumptions about teacher learning directed towards improving their practice.

(a) That the most effective teachers in these times are those who have pedagogical repertoires that continue to be broad and deep enough to maintain the best of the old while incorporating new skills and techniques relevant to learning as a collaborative activity.

(b) That collaborative cultures are built around routines that are sustained and enhanced in classrooms over the duration of the school term.

(c) That while most teachers can see with rational clarity the value of a more collaborative approach or strategy, when it comes to doing something new or different, breaking with normal classroom routines is very difficult.

(d) That ‘first day first class’ teaching presents a unique opportunity for establishing the routines necessary to building and sustaining a collaborative learning culture.

Unique Features:
The one-day program will feature:

  • Exemplars drawn from recent observations of, and engagement with, highly effective teachers in high performing Australian schools;
  • A collaborative pedagogical approach with participants, not on them;
  • Generic teaching practice relevant to all year levels and subject areas;
  • No reliance on particular digital tools or learning platforms.

Completing Exceptional Teaching for Collaborative Learning program will contribute 6 hours of NESA Registered PD addressing 6.2.2. from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient Level Accreditation in NSW.


ACEL Member: $360 p/p
Non-Member: $380 p/p
Combine and Save: $540 p/p
Receive a discount when you combine your registration with a new ACEL membership – normally $195.


Brisbane QLD
Wednesday 4th September 2019
Time: 9am - 4pm
Venue: Victoria Park
Click here to register online