Tag Archives: learning and teaching

Everyday learning – a shout out to colleagues who inspire me to think

My dad’s a big fan of saying, ‘Well, you learn something new every day’. I never paid much attention to it, but I think that dad is right about it and that this is a message that has soaked into my pores over my lifetime. Today I did some learning and I did some thinking. It’s not always comfortable and it’s not always easy, but it got me musing on the nature of learning and on the colleagues who inspire me to learn more. 

It began with an email from Amanda – I’m mentioning her by name, because all day I’ve been thinking about how much I love working with her – and today I sent her an email to tell her this. I really like the way Amanda looks at the world and at her practice as a teacher educator and academic. She wants to know more about learning and teaching and this is never in simplistic and easy ways. Today she’d sent out some feedback from our GDE (Sec) students from last year – there was lots in this feedback to learn from, with students commenting about what they found positive in their experiences of our courses and what they would have liked to have seen improved, or areas that could have been approached differently. Amanda and I exchanged some emails about the feedback and I was telling her that I was excited about the opportunity the feedback presented to learn something new about my practice. Despite my excitement, there is always a moment of trepidation, something I shared with her in my email today:  

I think there’s always a moment where I think ‘oh god, please don’t let it be horrendous’ but that’s because so much of our professional work as teachers is linked to our personal views of ourselves and our emotions as well – but in a supportive environment these kinds of things can be seen as ways of opening up discussions for learning. I looked at the feedback and thought ‘right, what can I do in my teaching to address these comments? what’s the gap between what I was aiming to do and what might not have worked with the students?” – and I had a couple of lessons with them last year where I wasn’t happy with the way things went so I went in and talked about that the following week – to try and model that idea that we learn through reflection and critiquing what we do. This has been really hard for me to get to as a teacher though – I was always so hung up on being a ‘good’ teacher (I’ve always been ‘good’ at things – what if I’m suddenly not?! shock horror) that I was scared to look at what might not be good – worried that if I opened pandora’s box, who knew what I might find out? That’s so limiting though and so at both uni and school I’ve had to challenge myself as a teacher (and a person!) to make myself vulnerable to learning (and I choose those words deliberately as at the beginning it was a lot more about being vulnerable to learning, rather than open to learning). 

Another colleague, Robyn, introduced me to a quote that reverberates in my brain constantly. It’s from Schute, and I must dig out the actual reference details, but it says ‘One needs to stand in one’s vulnerability in order for it to become a strength’. I LOVE this concept. As a teacher and a teacher educator, it represents everything that is possible, challenging and worthwhile doing in our work. Learning involves risk, it involves being courageous enough to say that there are ways we can do things better, that we all still have so much to learn. 

Today I send a shout out to three of my colleagues, three people who inspire me to learn more about who I am as a teacher  – Amanda, Robyn and Maryann. I feel lucky to work with teacher educators who question the ways things are done, who seek to find ways to do things differently, who challenge me, question me, make me think and inspire me to keep learning. In working with them, I become a triptych learner – vulnerable, engaged and eager all at once.

So, who inspires you to learn and think more? 



Have you flipped yet?


Well we are heading into the silly season when calendars become jam packed, people start to crowd into shops stockpiling like the zombie apocalypse is about to hit and I start to look a bit like I’m crawling rather than running towards the finish line of December -so asking if you’ve flipped yet might seem like a reasonable question. What I’m talking about though is your classroom – have you flipped it yet?
Despite the fact that the end of the year is drawing closer, at this time of year I always start to think about next year- what will I do to make my classroom a better learning environment for my students? What is it that I want to experiment with – what things have caught my eye over the course of 2012? Yesterday I decided that classroom karaoke will go on my ‘to do’ list for 2013. Today I’m thinking about flipping my classroom and about using paperslide projects as a learning activity in my tutorials and in the classes I’ll be teaching at school next year as well. If you haven’t come across Dr. Lodge McCammon  yet check out this brief introduction:

Maryann and I were talking about ways we might play around with the ‘traditional’ lecture format in one of our classes and use the lecture time for more seminar based work – flipping our classroom might be a good thing to experiment with in order for this to happen. I’m also interested in experimenting with the paperslide projects for differentiation in the tutorials and my school classes to see if adolescents and adults respond differently to this kind of task. You can find out more about flipping and about the paperslide projects by visiting the FIZZ website:



I’m planning, plotting and getting ready to flip – what about you?