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Responding to change and uncertainty

June 24th, 2009

In a recent Teachers Work project we provided a small group of teachers with a professional learning experience that aimed to encourage them to become more conscious of their existing tacit beliefs about education. In this project we noticed that despite the similarities between what the different teachers said about this professional development,  the teachers seemed to deal with uncertainty and ambiguity in a  range of ways.  This made us wonder about  the personal and biographical factors that influence how different individuals respond to change. We tried an activity with the teachers based on the Thinking Object: Change and Growth.  When reflecting on change in their own lives most of the teachers mentioned a “sense of belonging” or at least the support of others (both within and outside school) as being important factors that influenced how easily they coped with change.

It seems to me we talk quite a lot about the importance of students feeling a “sense of belonging” to school but maybe this is just as important for staff. Do we create learning environments where teachers (as well as students) feel they belong – so that they are secure enough to be able to take risks, try out new things, be open to new ideas? What are the factors that encourage risk taking and innovation? What are the best ways to support teachers (who after all have been conditioned by 20th Century ideas about schools) to try out new ideas and model the sorts of learning behaviours we want for our students?

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  1. fcottam
    | #1

    (From Fiona Cottam at Epsom Girls Grammar School) The development of thinking on this blogsite is really helpful. I agree that teachers need all of the thinking and being dispositions that are listed and I think it essential that we (as school leaders) create the context for people to manifest these dispositions. Perhaps when we interview applicants for jobs we explore their dispositions so we only appoint teachers who have them so we have a common disposition already among our staff. Obviously the principal and senior leaders must demonstrate these dispositions themselves and be future-focused. I am in the process of trying to develop school structures that allow teachers to indulge their desire to learn and am also trying to figure out how digital technologies can help this. I see appraisal as a potential tool in assisting teachers to learn but my ideas are as yet inchoate. This all has to be integrated with compliance issues (assurance that staff meet professional standards so attestation is achieved).If others have systems that work in a way that encourages teachers’ learning, please add your thoughts.

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