Connected Learning

Jarrod Lamshed

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Listening to Outsiders – Weekly Round Up

answerhub_quote_nyedesktopipadThis week I’ve been listening to a series of interviews from the ABC (I hope it survives the budget cuts) podcast ‘Conversations with Richard Fidler’. Interviews with Julia Gillard, Molly Meldrum and Matthew Evans have been varied and entertaining company on my morning walks. In particular though, an interview with Adelaide Craniofacial surgeon Dr David David stood out this week. As well as being a good story, Dr David hit on some pretty important points that are completely relevant to schools.

When discussing the early years of  craniofacial surgery, Dr David made the statement that the successful outcomes they see today didn’t start until true collaboration became the common practice. He explained that to provide truly successful outcomes for his patients, he worked with a social worker, eye doctor, brain surgeon, ear specialist and a dentist. He went on to explain that this was a ‘true’ collaboration. They don’t work under a traditional method of referral through letter writing, but instead have become a team that communicate, strategise, plan, operate and consult with each other. They share office space, and meet everyday to fine tune and improve their practice.

This is something that we’ve talked about in schools for a long time, but it’s something that we could still do better. We know collaboration is a powerful thing. In our job, we are busy… I get that. As school leaders, we need to be looking at ways to create time and space with timetables and structures, and as teachers we need to prioritise collaboration over the ‘busy’ stuff. I know the busy work is important, but we need to look at how to balance this with real, ongoing collaboration that will improve our practice and create better outcomes for students.

It’s a fact of life that we can’t all be experts on everything. What if we found a way to truly collaborate and worked with and draw on each others strengths? What if we were able to team teach when it was beneficial and free each other up to work with students that need some extra support or extension? What if we planned critically together more regularly? What if we saw asking for help or advice about our practice as a natural and comfortable thing rather than a threat or sign of weakness? I feel confident that this is all possible… I just haven’t really ever seen it in action in a sustainable way.  It’s certainly something to aim for.

Listening to this conversation really pushed home the idea that we really need to be listening to people from outside of the teaching profession. As teachers, I think we can easily become caught up in the world of ‘school’ and forget that there are other ideas and experiences out there for us to learn from. When we think like this, we are really limiting ourselves.

After this, I’ll certainly be listening to more of these ‘outsiders’. I think that it it important, and will only help my practice and professional learning.

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52 Recommendations for Boys in Schools (Recommendation 2)

Recommendation 2:

Since boys convert feelings to movement it is essential that parents and teachers realise that boys need to move when faced with emotions and that a good way to open boys up is to do something active with them that they enjoy. In the middle of some physical activity they will often reveal what problem they` may be facing.

This is a recommendation that I believe we are following well in our classroom. The ‘walk and talk’ strategy is one that we use very regularly. Within our unit team we support each other with the supervision needed to be able to do this and school leadership are also happy to cover classes when the need arises. 

Although the logistics of this strategy can be difficult, it is important to find ways to make this happen. Talking to boys ‘side by side’ rather than ‘face to face’ makes a big difference. Often speaking with a boy face to face about a difficult topic can cause them to feel confronted, where as the same conversation side by side or during physical activity seems more supportive and relaxed.

This is a strategy that I have see and use everyday with great success. Several years into our boys program we are now seeing the boys use this strategy with each other. Regularly, students will notice an issue ‘brewing’ before I do and ask to take another student for a walk to try and help them. It is amazing to watch and has really become something that we take for granted in our classroom now.

For us, this recommendation has been a ‘game changer’. It has helped to create an environment where we talk to students rather than at students. It has helped to create a classroom environment where big blow ups are rare and where students are managing their issues with much more success.

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