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work shadowing

June 15, 2013

Shadows may heighten a mysterious atmosphere, create tension or conceal danger in suspense texts.

In the work context, though, shadowing can yield insight, often by illuminating patterns through interplay, overlap and contrasts.

shadows

CC Image Source: http://mrg.bz/Y3tosL

Yesterday, my Monday-Friday car trek north was exchanged for a train trip to West Leederville.

With the generosity of an English team who operate dynamically to make learning visible (theirs with students, of students, and also in the moment-to-moment with each other) I shared an opportunity to work shadow at Perth Modern along with two teachers from Geraldton. Powerful improvements in learning occur

…when teachers work together to develop plans, develop common understandings of what is worth teaching, collaborate on understanding their beliefs of challenge and progress and work together to evaluate the impact of their planning on student outcomes (Hattie, 2012, p. 41).

Here’s a whimsical narrative literally on the path (Old Perth Road, Bassendean) to whet our appetites for what lies ahead:

2013-06-14 16.29.00

Come join the post-train-ride experience (or view a PhotoPeach version):

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Takeaways:

  • culture is crucial
  • focus on the learning
  • lectures can work with tag-team teaching to extend thinking, and ensure student engagement
  • possibilities exist in seeing how others do – teaching/ learning – what you often undertake in isolation
  • I love the idea of a cross-curricular thinking group which hones the heartbeat work – driving promotion of learning
  • learning with + learning of = leading next practice

Documentation pictured below illustrates how

…students’ thinking serves another important purpose in that it provides a stage from which both teachers and students may observe the learning process, make note of the strategies being used, and comment on the developing understanding. The visibility afforded by documentation provides the basis for reflecting on one’s learning and for considering that learning as an object for discussion. In this way, documentation demystifies the learning process both for the individual as well as the group, building greater metacognitive awareness in the process (Ritchart, Church & Morrison, 2011, p. 39).

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To say I learned a great deal would be faint praise for the inspiration afforded by colleagues sharing what they do. One busy Friday spent inside another school’s praxis reveals that

It’s not a good thing when teachers work alone. Nor is it good when schools operate in isolation either, no matter how collaborative they are internally. Teachers improve when they collaborate with and learn from other teachers. Schools also improve when they collaborate with and learn from other schools (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012, p. 136).

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Selected references

Hargreaves, A. & Fullan, M. (2012). Professional capital: Transforming teaching in every school. New York: Teachers College Press.

Hattie, J. (2012). Visible learning for teachers: Maximising impact on learning. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Ritchart, R., Church, M., & Morrison, K. (2011). Making thinking visible: How to promote engagement, understanding, and independence for all learners. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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