Sunday, 8 February 2015

Day 8 of #28Daysofwriting - Art of Teaching

At the start of year HPPS staff retreat Daniel challenged us by leading a discussion on the Art of Teaching. Staff PD in education is littered with many different teaching methods and philosophies so I must say I was a little curious where this was to head, although we did have three questions to enlighten us somewhat about Daniel's direction:

  • How might we develop an understanding of the “art of teaching”?
  • How might we challenge our practice to make sure it’s future focused?
  • How might we develop a diagnostic pedagogy?
Daniel's first point was to outline that this was once this great All Black fullback called Christian Cullen, I was instantly wide awake. Where was this going to go? I don't know that all of the staff were as engaged as me, but nonetheless. Daniel related that one of Cullen's talents was to play the game as it developed in front of him, he was able to adapt as the game changed in front of him, often with amazing results. As soon as Daniel had mentioned Cullen and this ability I'd instantly been transported to an amazing day at Carisbrook, Dunedin where as a young scarfie I'd watched Cullen score this fantastic try. 

What has rugby got to do with teaching? Cullen's ability was to read the game was integral to his success in the oval ball code, he was always in the right place when the opposition kicked and he had a penchant for being able to make the cover tackles when you didn't expect him to. As teachers we need this ability also, not to cover the crossfield kick or drop someone as they dive for the line, but everyday our children provide us with many different challenges that we hadn't conceived as we planned for the lesson, day or week. It is the teachable moment, the technology that doesn't work, the idea that just doesn't make sense or any other deviation from the plan that occurs. How we deal with this challenges is what Daniel was referring to, the Art of Teaching.

How do we develop this ability? You would think our ability as an Artist will develop as we grow experience and skills, I know that my adaptability is far better as a teacher today than what it was at the start of my first practicuum. There were so many verbal signals to listen for, without even worrying about the non-verbal cues. 

In the last few days of been starting to read Nuthall's The Hidden Lives of Learners and in the back of my mind I have Dweck's Mindset and I'm starting to think myself into some tight corners when I think about this Art of Teaching. Thinking about all that occurs in the classroom, much of it beyond the knowledge of the teacher, how is one able to teach the classroom as it develops? I'm at a distinct advantage, I work in a team-teacher environment. Yes, that means there are more students in our learning space, but together there is far more skills,  experience and mental capability in that space than an individual would have. Cullen was a naturally gifted rugby player, while I recognise that he would have worked incredibly hard to develop his skills over the years he was also blessed with speed, agility, strength and a feel for the game. No matter how hard I could have worked I struggle to think that I ever would have reached his level. So then where do I stand as an Artist of Teaching?

My query is, does that mean that we have teachers who are more able to read the classroom than others, or in other words are some teachers more accomplished Artists than others? Or is this purely about experience and development (a growth mindset). Sir Ken Robinson talks about this also, teachers who have many tools with which to engage learners as the classroom develops.

28 minutes is buzzing on my phone, my thoughts still aren't clear on this but the Art of Teaching needs more investigation and reading.

I'd be interested in your thoughts.

1 comment:

  1. Cullen also had the brilliance of 14 others around him on the field that were at the top of their game. The trust one has in their support networks is integral to your approach of risk and reward. That is an awesome analogy and one that really resonates with me.