Teaching today requires dollops of courage
|SMT of Prince George Primary School|
|SMT of Prince George Primary deep in discussion|
Teaching has always been challenging. In this fast- changing world, teachers are expected to lead the their children to become well- balanced, critical problem solvers who can live and work harmoniously with their communities of family, friends, fellow colleagues - everybody! How tall an order is this?
There is often some glib talking about the higher order thinking we want our children to master and the need for teachers to develop these cognitive skills of the learners. As if thinking is automatic, as if all teachers themselves have the capacity to teach the new content and the new thinking skills without the necessary training and support. it is one thing knowing say, certain content and making sense of it for yourself. But, having to mediate that same content and having to teach children the various skills to master the same, you need a basket of strategies and a solid understanding of the pedagogic demands to reach all the children successfully.
And, this requires hard, hard work and a willing spirit by our teachers, school management teams and district officials to navigate this learning curve. Fortunately, we are ready to be stretched, knowing learning is the work, as Michael Fullan argues.
I suspect I may have benefitted more from the three cluster sessions just because I was there at all three. Each session had its own identity, but all three SMT clusters shared the same goal: being willing to suspend all assumptions and engage in gaps analysis of the ANA questions so that classroom teaching practices can be lifted. How inspiring is this??
SMT of Delta Primary School
So,in our third and final SMT cluster session, the four groups of school management teams and we grappled with those Maths questions which learners struggled with. We teased out the questions, dissected them to the bone and interrogated the classroom practices that also limit higher order thinking. There were times when we laughed at certain language practices and question structures we embedded in our teaching without having realized their limiting power. Then there were also those ah-ha moments when colleagues liberally gifted us with their insights and wisdom.
SMT of Floreat Primary School
One thing's for sure: if teachers are willing participants to develop themselves in a nurturing, empowering environment, such spaces must be institutionalised and protected by the Heads of schools and their school management teams .