Inquiry and Reflections of a Professional Learning Day

Monday 29 April was a pupil free day where teachers @materdeiwagga enjoyed a Professional Learning Day with @aussietony, Mr Tony Ryan. Tony Ryan is a consultant who offers professional support to schools both within and outside of Australia. Tony has presented over 1500 keynotes and workshops at state, national and international conferences in the past 15 years. He is and was quality!

On Monday, Tony reminded teachers of the world which awaits our students and affirmed that student-centred learning will assist students to prepare for that world. From there we explored more/other/new ways to support and promote meaningful learning which will value-add to the very good work already being done. Furthermore, we deepened our understanding of inquiry learning.

There were many powerful messages that came from the presentation and workshops which Tony delivered throughout the day. Tony reminded us of the need to “future-proof” our students for the world in which they will have to work. We can essentially do this by:

  • increasing student skills and knowledge as prescribed by curriculum;
  • developing student capability to use digital technology for both critical and creative thinking;
  • supporting the development of student personal and social capabilities; and, last but not least,
  • ensuring students become authentic, lifelong inquirers; that is, to constantly ask discerning questions about life and work.

As we already know, our students of today, the adults and leaders of tomorrow, will not need to remember facts because they will be accessible at the touch of a button on a smartphone or other device. Rote learning and recall will not be as necessary as it has been to date. In fact, the more and more I read (and stated by Tony on Monday) reaffirms that adults of tomorrow will increasingly work in jobs (most of them not yet known) where organisations will require new and expansive thinking from employees who continually work in teams to solve real world problems. Schools of today and tomorrow are obligated to balance the need for curriculum compliance with the obligation to nurture the creativity and imagination required to address such real world problems.

The best schools will re-design their learning. Re-designing learning does not mean ‘changing everything’; however, it does mean implementing new strategies to complement the (right percentage of) direct instruction required to develop the essential building blocks of literacy and numeracy. It is NOT a case of “either/or”; it IS indeed a case of “both/and”. That is, schools of today and tomorrow are obligated to balance the need for curriculum compliance with the obligation to nurture the creativity and imagination required to address such real world problems. The best way to nurture creativity and imagination is to continually inquire by asking questions.

For a long time now, some say since the days of Socrates, asking questions to assess student understanding has been a core component of teaching and learning. So, asking questions is not something that is new to today’s classroom learning. In fact, it’s difficult to picture a classroom in which a teacher isn’t asking questions. The ability of teachers to ask good questions is critical to success, not only for our students but for our own growth as learners. As teachers, we need to model for our students the need to ask important questions, positive questions reflective questions by starting with “why?” “how?” “what if?” Developing our ability to questions is at the heart of cultivating the creativity and innovation required to address future real world problems.

Greg.

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