Thursday, 26 June 2014

Golfing and teaching - the same but different.

To help teachers understand the concept of teaching as inquiry, I use the analogy of golfing. When you start golfing, it takes a while to learn how to hit the ball and send it in the general direction you want it to go. After the first few months you start to get the hang of it and then you start trying to refine and hone your game.

You think about the way you hit the ball. You try different clubs and irons to get the best result. You start taking into account the conditions on the course, wet, dry, long or short grass, wind from what direction? You don't go out on a golf course and hit the ball and say "that is as far as I am ever going to hit that ball, I can't get any better". You go on and try different strategies to stop the ball curving in the direction you don't want, and you seek improvement in any way that you think will work. You practice. You ask you golfing buddies to help you. Sometimes you seek help from a professional, Sometimes you might even become a professional but you never, never, never say, "that is it, I cant do any better." You analyse what happened after you hit the ball. Did it go where you intended? Why or why not? Do you need to try it again?

So when you talk to any teacher, ask them what their inquiry is this year. They will be excited that someone is interested in their role as a professional. Teaching as inquiry starts with looking at the evidence (know your students using student data, and information about their environment) and then deciding where do you want to get your students to. You put together a plan based on your experience and you trial new strategies that you think might work, and if they don't, then you try another strategy. You reflect on the influence your strategies have had on the outcomes for the students. If it does work, you keep practicing and striving to hone your practice. You don't ever, ever, ever, give up!

The difference is, that in golf you can go home happy that you gave it a go, good day or bad. In teaching, the well being and future of the children is at stake. You see - same but different!

Note: - Teachers in New Zealand must be registered. Their principals must attest to the fact they they have satisfied the "registered teacher criteria" every three years for them to remain fully registered. There are twelve of these criteria and they can be found online.

Criterion number twelve is that a registered teacher must 'use critical inquiry and problem-solving effectively in their professional practice.' This means that teachers must strive to improve their practice. They must continually look at ways that they can improve outcomes for their students. This is known as "Teaching As Inquiry" (TAI) in the profession.

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