Over the past few weeks I have been running an eCafe for staff at 7.45am-8.15am. Surely, the lure of freshly brewed coffee, Meshino muffins and the chance to learn about a "cool" elearning tool would have teachers queueing up? Well, some people turned up, a little disappointing initially but the real benefit was not about who didn't turn up. The best aspect of a few people stopping by for a coffee and muffin was about sharing ideas and the learning conversations that we have had over those weeks.
Yes we looked at QR codes, Quizlet and embedding videos in Moodle pages. However, the amazing learning that took place was the sharing of ideas, discussing how we could use those tools to enhance the learning in our classes. How using different approaches and ideas could help our students. It was these learning conversations and sharing of ideas that was at the core of eCafe.
I think that we need to make time to talk about learning, not just about assessment. Yes, assessment is important and for Secondary teachers ,we plan our year, based on the assessment timetables. But learning is always at the heart of our core business. Somewhere in our department times we need to be having those learning conversations. And not just with our colleagues, we need to be having those conversations with our students. After a great seminar on boys' learning with Joseph Driessen, I managed to have a few of those (corridor) learning conversations with some of my more difficult boys. I felt it made a difference to them and me. It was not about discussing their behaviour in class, but about what we could do to make learning happen for them.
I believe that as teachers, we are always thinking about how we can improve our lessons, teaching, assessment, unit plans, learning, class management, time management, data collection, report writing etc etc. We need to stop the conversations in our heads and have those conversations with our colleagues and our students. That's when the real improvement will take place.