By Mathilda Joubert
At the beginning of the year Stephen Lee challenged us all to embrace change. I recently came across this blog post by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach on why we, in education, should continue to change, learn and grow.
Someone in a community I belong to recently said, "Why should teachers change? We are asking them to work harder, do things in a new way, unlearn the old ways of doing things, and when they do all that we have asked we do what? Tell them thanks? I know we don't give them more money. Maybe if they are really lucky we ask them to help the others who just don't seem to get it. What a reward! I face the same problems, some jump on board and others don't, and I have started asking myself why should they change?"
Here's why: you change for the same reason you went into teaching in the first place. You change because what you do for a living was never just a job - but more a mission. You change because you are willing to do whatever it takes to make a significant difference in the lives of the students you teach. You change because you care deeply about kids and you know that unless you personally own these new skills and literacies you will not be able to give them to your students.
Why change? You change because, of all the people in the world, teachers understand the value of being a lifelong learner. You change because you know intuitively relationships matter and you are interested in leaving a legacy to your kids, through what you do for others’ kids. You change because you understand learning is dynamic and that to not change means to quit growing.
Why change? Because you made the decision when you first became a teacher to do something that was larger than life and more meaningful than money, recognition, and status. You became a teacher because of change; the changes in the world you wanted to make one kid at a time. You change because you want to do what is right, simply because it *is* the right thing to do and you understand the need to model for others so they can do what is right as well. You are used to hard work and long hours. You are used to commitment with little recognition. You know what you do has lasting results.
You change because the world has changed and you know that not challenging the status quo is the riskiest thing you can do at this point. You change because you love learning and you love children and you know they need you to lead the way in this fast paced changing world and to do that you have to find your own way first. That is why you and they should change. (Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach)
The SCEA Institute of Teaching and Learning has been created to provide opportunities for SCEA staff to keep changing, growing and learning – just as we would expect continuous learning from our students. The Institute is coordinating a number of professional learning programmes across SCEA schools this year for example the New Graduate Teacher Development Programme, training for senior and middle leaders on improving quality teaching and learning and a range of computer based and personal development activities.
Research also suggests that professional learning can be most effective when it is embedded in school-based learning activities and directly focused on improving teaching and learning practices. Consequently the Institute often provides, supports or facilitates bespoke professional learning activities in our schools. Topics vary widely from assessment to behaviour management, from creative thinking skills to differentiated teaching and learning, from effective questioning to feedback – and I can continue through the alphabet.
What is most important is that it is directly focused on implementing and mastering, rather than merely acquiring teaching strategies.
Please get in touch with the Institute (firstname.lastname@example.org) to explore how we can keep changing, keep learning and keep growing together.
[Prizes available for any completed A – Z of professional learning topics – extra points will be awarded for alliteration, humour or irony.]
 Cole, P. (2012). Linking effective professional learning with effective teaching practice. Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. (http://www.aitsl.edu.au/docs/default-source/default-document-library/linking_effective_professional_learning_with_effective_teaching_practice_-_cole)