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Inside Teaching : October 2010
www.atra.edu.au | firstname.lastname@example.org 10 THINGS I’VE LEARNED ABOUT TEACHING 23 things I’ve learned about teaching 4ENGAGE IN PROFESSIONAL CONVERSATIONS – BECAUSE YOUR SHARING OF PRACTICE AND IDEAS, SUCCESSES AND FAILURES, WILL LEAD TO ENHANCED TEACHING AND LEARNING. While it’s important to engage deeply in the world of education and our professionalism as educators, it’s also important to look outside our usual world, to be alert to what learnings we can take from other fields of endeavour and how we might embed these in our own practices to make us better at what we do. We have much to gain by looking outside our immediate world and seeing what other disciplines and experiences have to offer in terms of improving educational understandings and practices. 5IT’S OKAY TO FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE AND CHALLENGED BECAUSE THAT’S WHEN WE ARE OFTEN MOST RECEPTIVE TO NEW LEARNING. We don’t know everything, and we’ll never know everything, but we should strive to know and learn as much as we can in this rapidly changing world as we prepare young people for their roles in the community of tomorrow. There are two further related lessons to this one. 6THERE’S MORE YOU DON’T KNOW THAN YOU DO KNOW OR, PUT OTHERWISE, YOU DON’T KNOW AS MUCH AS YOU THINK YOU DO! 7STAY HUMBLE, KEEP ASKING QUESTIONS AND KEEP LEARNING. Of course, points 4, 5 and 6 need to be understood in the context of a rapidly changing world where education and schools face many challenges. New challenges seemingly emerge on a daily basis and many of these threaten us and make us uncomfortable. These are the realities of the world into which the young people in our classrooms are entering – uncertainty and difference are hallmarks of this world. On top of that, unfortunately, education has become a key player in the political ‘wars,’ where governments seek quick fixes to highly complex issues in schools. As educators, we need to help our politicians and policymakers to understand the things outlined below if we’re to achieve real change and improvement in what we do. 8CHANGE IN EDUCATION IS COMPLEX; IT’S POTENTIALLY THREATENING FOR MANY; IT NEEDS TO BE RESOURCED; AND IT TAKES TIME. In engaging in change in schools we must never lose sight of the next thing I’ve learned about teaching and learning, a thing that is often overlooked in debates about education that I’ve seen easily reduced to the trivial. 9EDUCATION IS THE KEY TO IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF LIFE OF INDIVIDUALS AND THE COMMUNITY GENERALLY. 10REGULARLY ASK YOURSELF THIS QUESTION: WOULD I BE HAPPY FOR MY CHILD TO BE IN MY CLASS OR TO ATTEND MY SCHOOL? If the answer is no, you have a professional obligation and moral responsibility to do something about it because, as an educator, you have to take professional responsibility for your actions and do the best you can. You’re likely to answer yes if, rather than asking your students what they are doing in your class, you ask them what they are learning. Learning, not ‘busy work’ or ‘child minding’ is what you are on about – and that learning refers not just to the young people in your class, it also refers to you as a professional educator. ■ Neil Cranston is Professor in Educational Leadership and Curriculum at the University of Tasmania, Honorary Professor at the University of Queensland and Adjunct Professor, Department of Education, at Unitec New Zealand. His most recent book, edited with Lisa Ehrich, is Australian School Leadership Today, published by Australian Academic Press.