Category Archives: TTA Presenters

Teachers GIVE and GIVE and then GIVE some more

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You have possibly heard of many of the volunteer organisations that work to effect the lives of the people in other less developed countries. One of our presenters Jenny Osler has a close connection with a special volunteer organisation ‘Teachers Across Borders’.

Jenny can you tell me more about what got you involved originally?
I got involved with Teachers Across Borders because it was an opportunity to use the skills I had built up over my years teaching to work alongside a group of teachers who work in very difficult circumstances in Cambodia. I liked the idea of an organisation run totally by teacher volunteers with no hidden agendas. It has been a wonderful professional development experience for me where education is pared back to the essentials.

What is the essence of the work of ‘Teachers Across Borders’?
The work of Teachers Across Borders is to work alongside Khmer teachers to develop their teaching and learning skills to improve the learning outcomes for their students by running a workshop program in three locations across Cambodia annually during term holidays. More than 200 teachers attend each of these programs. A Train the Trainer program is also run as part of the workshop program with the goal that Khmer teachers will co present alongside their volunteer colleagues and to their colleagues in their schools and districts.


Karly Thaw
is a young teacher from Strathmore Secondary College in Melbourne and has recently traveled to Battambang in Cambodia..to GIVE professionally to her colleagues overseas.

“I had travelled to Cambodia first and fell in love with the country and saw the need. A teacher in my school was already involved and it was an easy next step to get involved. I found that the cambodian teachers were hungry for the same things as we are..how to engage their students.”

Listen to more from Karly and Jenny and their work with teachers in Cambodia in this podcast.

Taken during a creative writing session where the teachers were asked to move outside and write about what they could see, hear and feel.
Taken during a creative writing session where the teachers were asked to move outside and write about what they could see, hear and feel.
This is at Angkor Wat walking along the outside of a temple called Ta Prohm, famous for the the huge figs growing amongst the ruins and keeping it up!
This is at Angkor Wat walking along the outside of a temple called Ta Prohm, famous for the the huge figs growing amongst the ruins and keeping it up!
This picture was taken at the end of the workshops with my colleagues, our translator and teaching assistant.(Karly 3rd from the left)
This picture was taken at the end of the workshops with my colleagues, our translator and teaching assistant.(Karly 3rd from the left)
Working with the Cambodian teachers, the workshop leaders and their translators.
Working with the Cambodian teachers, the workshop leaders and their translators.
The gang! This is a photo of all the teachers involved in our workshop taken on the last day.
The gang! This is a photo of all the teachers involved in our workshop taken on the last day.
Working with the Cambodian teachers, the workshop leaders and their translators.
Working with the Cambodian teachers, the workshop leaders and their translators.
Every morning the students at the teachers college, where we were running our workshops, lined up for an assembly where they sung the national anthem and heard important announcements for the day.
Every morning the students at the teachers college, where we were running our workshops, lined up for an assembly where they sung the national anthem and heard important announcements for the day.

Know your stuff – the importance of depth of subject knowledge

Brainy School Kid Reading A Book

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Today’s teacher is pulled in many directions – from the focus on teaching the curriculum, to results and endless paperwork.  Where is the time for keeping yourself up to date and developing a true depth of knowledge in your subject area?  And why should you bother?

Here is what some of our presenters think:

1.  Greater teacher confidence

Greater knowledge of your own subject area is generally linked with greater teacher confidence – and job satisfaction.   Dr Karen Lambert, Lecturer in PDHPE at The University of Sydney offers advice to teachers in the early years.  “Master your subject area and get even better at it.  Mastery is very important.  It is important to see you are good at your subject area.  And also to know you will get better and better as you go.”

2.  Better student engagement

“The world has changed.  The quality of what we teach and the way we teach needs to be different if we want to engage all our students,” says Anita Chin, maths teacher and consultant working in schools across Australia and New Zealand.

“What students value has changed…Knowing specialist content for your subject area and knowing your students [will help] to engage your students.”

3.  Improve student outcomes

Student outcomes will always benefit from teachers’ own depth of knowledge.  “In my experience,” notes Ken Webb, History and English HSC teacher and TTA presenter, “kids feel confident if their teacher knows what they are talking about.  There is no short cut – you need to read and research yourself.”

“If teachers don’t know the content in depth, in terms of developmental teaching sequencing, they can’t cater as well to the wide range of needs in any classroom,” says Anita Chin.

In the middle years, for example “…the challenge for high school teachers is that they need to know primary content and be able to go back [if students have gaps]…and ask how do I implement primary content in a high school content.”

How to achieve deeper subject knowledge

  1. Collaborate and draw on the knowledge around you.  There will be a wealth of knowledge in your own staffroom.
  2. Ensure that at least some of your professional development is centred on your own subject area, particularly for those teaching in secondary schools.
  3. Change your focus.  If you are doing too much of the hard classroom work yourself, is the balance right?  Can you work smarter not harder?

 

“The people who should be working hardest in any classroom are the students,” are Darryn Kruse’s wise words.   Darryn is the Principal of Williamstown High School, history teacher and expert in the area of the Inquiry Classroom.

“As a primary teacher – we don’t specialise but rather work across lots of areas so it is about connectivity.  It is about teaching literacy and numeracy within the context of say history.  So as primary teachers we need a deep understand of how things are connected… of how learning happens…Content is important but the pedagogy should come first,”  argues Jo Blannin, ICT specialist and primary teacher.

And finally, a message for leaders:  teachers need the time and space away from their classroom commitments in order to continually keep their subject knowledge up to date.  How about Ken Webb’s idea? Allow teachers to get out of the classroom for periods of time – perhaps in the form of a sabbatical in another school – so they can add significant value for themselves and other teachers.

 

To read more about these presenters and the courses they offer, visit their profile page on the TTA website: Darryn Kruse, Anita Chin, Ken Webb, Joanne Blannin, Kery O’Neill, Karen Lambert

TTA offers over 300 fully accredited, high quality practical professional development courses for teachers, delivered by over 200 experienced presenters across Australia via face to face or online.  www.tta.edu.au

Quality Teaching and the 21st Century Learner (Part 2)

EducatorQuality Teaching and the 21st Century Learner

We asked 6 of our presenters about their thoughts on “quality teaching” and the “21st century learner”.  What does it really mean to be a 21st century learner?  What does quality teaching really mean?  In Part 2 of this post, here are the answers from our final 3 presenters:

 

Darryn Kruse

Principal and teacher at Williamstown High School, Victoria.  Teacher of history, social education and English Years 7 – 12.  Widely published author in the area of The Inquiry Classroom.  Experience teaching across Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and USA from Year 3 to university level.

I don’t think you can divorce quality teaching from quality and effective learning – practices that provide challenge and success for young people.  Knowing where a student is currently at – achievement levels, preferred learning styles, what engages them – and having a shared conversation with them about next steps for them and ways to challenge and support them towards growth.

We need to support students to be cognitive not passive learners – to take responsibility for their own understanding; to be independent, self-motivated and receptive so they can adapt and be flexible enough to learn new things, collaborate and think creatively – all of which are skills of the future.

This will not be achieved with a curriculum if students are passive consumers of teachers’ cleverness.

 

Joanne Blannin

Primary Teacher in France, England, America and Australia.  ICT Coordinator, Laburnum Primary School, Victoria and currently undertaking a Doctorate of Education focusing on the use of ICT in education

“For me, I am really excited about what technology can do for teaching and children in primary school.  The barriers are now so low, so we can personalise learning.  The intuitive nature of the technology – the 3 gestures of tapping, swiping, zooming – has removed a barrier to learning, especially for younger children.

 

Quality Teaching comes in when the teacher can negotiate with the child, and provide feedback about what they know, what they need to know and what the next step is.

 

It comes back to the teacher though, who sets the culture and expectations, rather than the tools; and our focus should be on what the tools can do for learning.”

 

Kery O’Neill

Veterinary surgeon. Research scientist. Science educator at primary, secondary, tertiary and community levels. Post Graduate Certification in Brain Based Training.  Previously a Senior Biology Teacher and HSC marker.

Often teachers and others focus on the numbers, the results.  But you automatically get the results if you focus on the learning rather than the numerical number.  Science often gets a bad rap, yet we do science every day, and the skills learned in science are important for decision making in the future.

For me, quality teaching means:

  • Empowerment through understanding
  • Educating the whole child
  • Learning for life in the 21st century
  • Achieving results without focusing on results.

 

See Part 1 of this article to read more comments from 3 other highly respected educators.

To read more about these presenters and the courses they offer, visit their profile page on the TTA website: Darryn Kruse, Joanne Blannin, Kery Neill

TTA offers ver 300 fully accredited, high quality practical professional development courses for teachers, delivered by over 200 experienced presenters across Australia via face to face or online.  www.tta.edu.au

Quality Teaching and the 21st Century Learner (Part 1)

TTA presenters are all experienced practitioners.  Most are currently teaching in classrooms across the country.  Our presenters include secondary school subject matter experts, primary teachers, principals, teacher educators and specialists in classroom skills.

We asked 6 of our presenters about their thoughts on “quality teaching” and the “21st century learner”.  What does it really mean to be a 21st century learner?  What does quality teaching really mean?  Here is the first of a 2 part blog post their answers:

Anita Chin

Mathematics Consultant, K-8, across Australia and the USA.  Secondary teacher. Lecturer The University of Sydney.

To me quality teaching means a teacher that can engage all their kids, a teacher who knows their content areas and a teacher that is able to cater to the wide range of needs in their classroom.

Teachers need to know the specific content for their subject area, know their students and know the right ways to engage their students.

It is vital to have a range of teaching strategies – ways of imparting that content to their students – even more so than 10 years ago.

The world has changed.  What we teach and the way we teach needs to be quite different if we want to engage all our students.

 

Dr Karen Lambert

Lecturer in Human Movement and Health Education, University of Sydney, HSC marker, PDHPE Specialist

For me the term “quality teaching” is old hat.  21st century learning in the new national curriculum focuses on improved teaching outcomes and student outcomes.

How do you compete with social media and information technology?  What does a 21st century learner look like and what are their needs? How does quality teaching need to evolve to address this?

For me, it should include setting up a quality learning environment, which is safe and engaging; an environment and place where students can connect with each other, the teacher and themselves, and where deep exploratory learning can occur; learning that is meaningful and relevant in and outside classroom.

The teacher should not be the giver of information but rather the facilitator of the learning process.

21st century teachers need to be able to self-coach.  They have to mentor, guide and coach students to think deeply about their role within diverse and complex 21st century economic, political, environmental and social issues. Doing this with compassion, care and purpose is what 21st century learners need.

 

Ken Webb

Stage 6 teacher, Government and Independent schools in Modern, Ancient and Extension History. Senior marker for the NSW HSC, Member of the Independent Schools Examination Committee. Highly regarded author of History texts and Study Guides Australia wide.

Often new ideas can quickly take on orthodoxy.  To me the phrase “quality teaching” can be a little too simplistic.  It is easy to use because it is “motherhood” and no one can disagree.

My approach is to keep your mind open, listen but don’t jump on the band wagon just to be seen to be doing something.

Ask yourself, is this really making teaching and learning better?  If it has legs, let’s integrate it.  Have an open but a critical mind, and ask, in the classroom what does this actually mean?

 

Part 2 of this article will be posted later week.  Look out for the comments from 3 other highly respected educators.

To read more about these presenters and the courses they offer, visit their profile page on the TTA website: Anita Chin, Karen Lambert, Ken Webb

TTA offers ver 300 fully accredited, high quality practical professional development courses for teachers, delivered by over 200 experienced presenters across Australia via face to face or online.  www.tta.edu.au