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.
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.