Masters Sprints 11-14

Sprint 11 Place Based Education

Amy Demerest suggests that we can take questions and shape them from subject questions into place-based questions. When we do this we start to combine place and pedagogy. Some example subject-distinct essential questions that can be shifted to Place-based essential questions are:

How do birds survive?Becomes…What do our birds need to survive?
What is ecology?Becomes…Is our local pond an ecosystem?
What is democracy?Becomes…How does our city council make decisions?
What are mathematical Patterns?Becomes…What mathematical patterns are found in our places?
What is interdependenceBecomes…How are animals in the bush interconnected?
How does the surface ofthe earth change?Becomes…How was this land formed?
What is art?Becomes…How do people round here express themselves?

Place Based Education

How does Place Based Education enhance effective collaborative practice?

The notion of place (or space) explores a locations characteristics both natural and cultural and the relationship people have with that as individuals and/or groups and the influence this has on their identity. These characteristics are often contested and therefore through collaboration we can view place through others lens’s and begin to develop a better understanding of this.

What do you need to consider to lead Place Based Education effectively in your context?

To do this effectively you need to constantly reassess the notion of place and what it means in your context. At times this may be abstract and may be subject to temporal changes such as day or night or seasonal variations. This should meet the needs of diverse learners as often their relationship with place may offer a different lens that contributes a wider understanding and allow them to contribute in a valid experiential way.

What learning environments and or pedagogy need to be in place or implemented for Place Based Education to be effective?

To be effective there needs to be a supportive learning environment where individuals viewpoints and shared experiences contribute towards a co constructed idea of place. Place based education is fundamental in promoting an authentic cultural responsive environment.

How does Place Based Education provide culturally responsive solutions that address authentic problems in your context?

There are many examples of this but perhaps most relevant and critical in society today is in understanding the impacts of colonisation based on the hegemonic which was, and in which place has been redefined. As we explore the impacts of this and start considering decolonisation we do so through a system of place based education.

Sprint 12 Collaboration and School Improvement

Collaboration can lead to improvements. By working together we can collectively solve problems. To do this we need to actually hear each other. Teachers need to receive and be inspired by leadership. Intensive support may be needed, for example, leaders could say: “We need you to do this and this is how we will help you to do it.” One school gave teachers 30 minutes a week, and asked them how they wanted to use the time. By allowing teachers to lead the meetings, they developed a culture of solving problems. Slater, L. (2004).

Self managing schools is a mega trend in education. There is also a trend towards reinvention of teacher professionalism. Teachers’ ongoing learning and development will develop a stronger knowledge base for teaching.

Collaboration reflects the notion of school as a community. This could be seen during lockdown as schools provided hope for recreating a sense of normality.

Collaboration is not about people getting along. It is about differing perspectives resulting in challenging questions, while engaging in mutually beneficial relationships. The essence being, working towards a common goal through interdependence.

Sprint 13 Communities of Practice

Community of Practice was developed in 1991 by Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger. It was used to facilitate and enhance learning and knowledge management in a shared context. A CoP or Kāhui Ako can provide an environment for people to connect; interact; build and extend the shared resources within shared learning goals. If effectively cultivated, it can result in improved practice.

Having been part of a Kāhui Ako for four-plus years, this is the ultimate goal: to raise achievement through effective sharing and collaboration. What works well is the informal learning and sharing, lesson reflections and discussions around practice and programmes. The difficulty is taking this shared understanding to a wider group, beyond the so-called inner circle, and out to the wider community of teachers. The biggest challenge is to enlarge the focus to include all teachers and all students in all schools.

Another challenge is the clearly defined role of leadership, and the perceptions of this. In addition, equitable allocation of resources can become an issue of contention. Suffice it to say, developing relational trust goes hand in hand with collaboration- and both take time. Relational trust is a prerequisite for engaging and robust professional discussions, where the outcomes are agreed and transparent.

Finally, common goals need to be both inspiring and measurable. Goals with no measurable outcome can become meaningless.

Sprint 14 Collaborating in the Project Team

What knowledge from this sprint helps me better understand an aspect of collaboration with my project team members?

Part of the MCE is facilitating collaboration. This is because much of the learning is online. We are encouraged to share ideas, get feedback and develop our thinking through discussions. I feel very fortunate to have landed in a team of teachers who get on well, are entertaining and supportive, and at the same time hard-working. Even though our online meetings have appeared to be somewhat social, I have gained a gem from each meeting, ironically just the nugget of information that I needed at the time. We have trialled a number of collaborative approaches, and continue to look for what would work best for us and fit into our busy schedules.

Examples of effective practice with collaboration include:

  • Trust-based relationships with collective purpose
  • Well-developed communication
  • Exchange of ideas
  • Transparent sharing of data
  • Members confidently share what they don’t know, and feel supported to take risks
  • Education focused relationships

Wyllie (2011) stated that collaboration can be linked to higher teacher morale. High collaboration and learning centered school processes can lead to good opportunities for learning.

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