For the past year we have had the privilege to work as part of the BeL (Blended e-Learning) team. This allows us to work alongside teachers, leaders, and students as they explore learning, teaching, and technology.
This year our project has changed its name to LwDT (Learning with Digital Technologies)*. This change was to reflect the deepening understanding that learning and learners must be at the centre and that technology is a way to enhance this learning. Building the understandings and capabilities of teachers is at the heart of improving outcomes for our students.
As we discussed this name change as a team we reflected on what we had learned as we worked in schools to support teachers to strengthen their understandings and capabilities.
Here are ten ideas:
- In the short term schools and teachers might want you to just do the work for them. But, by helping them upskill, in the long term they will thank you that you enabled them to do it themselves.
- Be responsive to the needs of the school, learners, and community, and remember that a powerful approach can be to help them see that they might need something different.
- Facilitate in a way that respects the skills and knowledge that each person brings. Listening is the key.
- Provide opportunities for people to tell you what they hope to get out of the session first and what they will take away from it at the end.
- You don’t need to know everything. You have the time to find out where to direct and support people to find things for themselves.
- Always consider Universal Design for Learning principles, catering for all learners — adult learners included. Plan for the margins and extend to everyone.
- Be prepared: So that you can make the most of the opportunity find out as much as you can about the school, the community, iwi, hapu, and participants before your session(s) — using whatever ways you can.
- Make resources available afterwards to enable the rewinding of the learning or and for the participants to carry on learning and trialling approaches in own time.
- Be mindful and considerate of how busy our teachers and principals are — you are one of MANY visitors to their schools.
- Provide the opportunity to “lurk”. Sometimes we all need to have time to feel comfortable before we engage.
I and my colleague Greg Carroll collated this list from suggestions put forward by the LwDT South Team.
* The Learning with Digital Technologies project also includes the Virtual Professional Learning and Development (VPLD) initiative, and the Future Focus Inquiry (FFI) initiative. These aspects of the LwDT mean that, as well as the support offered to whole schools, there are also opportunities for individual and group professional development.