The nature of evidence

Do educators really learn anything during professional development workshops and seminars?

Well given that a big part of my jobs so far have involved delivering professional development I would like to say a resounding YES! But I had an interesting situation at work today which got me thinking about the nature of evidence of learning.

As teacher registration authorities shift up a gear in their requirements and demands for evidence against the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, I wonder how much thought has gone into this process and to what end does it serve? I for one am guilty of attending a professional development session and at the end walking out thinking it a total waste of time as I picked up my certificate of attendance; another piece of evidence! But evidence of what?!?

My best learning experiences and development? Walking and talking on site with colleagues, students, parents, and visitors about all manner of things relating to learning, teaching, and the curriculum.

Maybe it’s time I invest in a GoPro… then again there’s probably a policy about that.

What EXACTLY are the “Skills” needed by 21st Century TEACHERS?

We’re almost three years on from this post and I’m left thinking that we are still asking the same questions…
In technology terms three years is a lifetime!
In students eyes three years probably feels like three lifetimes!
But what does three years feel like for a teacher being told to engage with technology in their classroom?


I have been heard to say that you can’t throw a rock into the blogosphere these days without hitting a post or article on the 21st Century “something-or-other”.

Love it or hate itthe notion of 21st Century Skills is one of those HOT topics these days – especially in Turkey.

I blog about this area far too frequently (my darling wife, Nazlı Hanim, just says I blog about “everything” too much), have a “big mouth” and live here – these are probably some of the reasons I have been invited to give a keynote at the upcoming Maltepe University Conference in April.

I didn’t have to think about it too much at all – this is the first time I have heard of a conference that specifically links the 21C concept to the “business” of what teachers need to “do” with what they know about

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Farewell to a friend

Today a former colleague of mine retired. Somewhere in the vicinity of 40 years in public education working in some of the most challenging schools, supporting some of the most difficult students, and throughout it all insisting that he still had so much to learn about learning and how best to support students.

Now what? I don’t mean what’s he going to do with all that extra free time… we’re teachers so we must be all too familiar with extensive holiday breaks! I’m talking about all of that wisdom, knowledge, passion, integrity, wit, and educational nous that is transitioning out of the profession. This isn’t in isolation either.

The OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey reports that the average age of teachers in Australia is 43.4 years and 53.2 years for principals. More alarming is that 37.1% of the workforce was over 50 in 2013 (a 5% increase from 2008 levels).

Now I’ll be the first to say good riddance to a small proportion of that statistic but the overwhelming majority of the group, like my colleague, have considerable insight into the fundamental nature of learning and I worry that we are not capturing that essence… before it’s too late.


(Retire In Peace).

‘Teacher bashing’ Australia’s favourite sport?

So I’ve just finished reading yet another article that provides plenty of commentary about how shit (pardon my Australian) teachers are and the fundamental problems with our education system, yet in the same breath complain that we don’t have enough highly skilled professionals as teachers!?!

“Counting the cost of national maths failure”, The Australian, 6th December.

The article starts with an interesting and rather misleading graph depicting the ‘rapidly’ declining PISA scores for Australian students. I know that this style of writing ‘sells’ more papers but I wonder what kind of outburst there would be if the shoe was on the other foot… imagine if all teachers taught students that newspaper journalists were rubbish and were dumbing down the nation with their continual literary dribble, and that most of them were writing about things they weren’t formally trained to write about! hmmm… that’s actually an intriguing idea…

“The steady decline in mathematics performance in Australian schools has resulted, in turn, in a shortage of qualified maths teachers.” Really?!? Is this the root cause of the declining number of specialist teachers? Or maybe the once respected profession has been dragged through the mud once too often by the ever criticising media.

There is no easy answer for ‘fixing’ the declining levels of achievement in mathematics and anyone that thinks switching everything back to skill & drill rote learning is the way obviously missed the memo on 21st century learning.

Do you have the answer?

Is blogging at school ok?

Should schools be footing the bill for our online time?

Sure! Why not?!… Heck no! Wasting taxpayers money!Hand on keyboard

Well is it really that simple? If I write a blog post during school hours, which I would say many people do, then who’s paying for my time and who’s benefitting from my blogging?

I suppose this reaches beyond just the blogosphere into most online personal social networking spaces. As technology in the classrooms becomes ubiquitous we are redefining our ‘average day’ to embed more and more creation and consumption of knowledge online. But is it all for work purposes? Should it be? Are online environments replacing the conversational chatter of the staff room, cause they most definitely aren’t all educational.

A couple of years ago the IT manager at my school sent out a usage stats list for Facebook’s website ranked in order of the number of hours it was opened on the end users computer… 3 of the top ten in that list were teaching staff (including number 1!). This may have been legitimate use for educational purposes… or it may not, who’s to know?

Should schools be monitoring this sort of behaviour and getting staff to justify their virtual timetables or should they embrace the collaboration that may stem from our meanderings through cyberspace? Tell me what you think…