I love my job, there is no doubt about it that I enjoy going to work. The reason for that is that my role is primarily about supporting teachers to improve their teaching and the learning experience for their students. My focus is primarily technology, but I am also on the observation team so I get to see a broad range of teaching styles and innovations, as well as some not so great attempts at teaching. Seeing staff interactions with students means that I get to see the end product of all my hard work. I loved teaching because I was able to watch my students grow, develop, become successful and make progress. I now get to see this with teachers. Being able to see the impact I have is one of the biggest motivators I have for getting out of bed in the morning. When I see the positive impact of the work I do on staff and therefore on students, it is it clear to me that the concept of sharing is key to improved teaching, learning and assessment and therefore student outcomes. Everything I do is about sharing ideas, technologies, information and opportunities.
One of my colleagues paid me a huge compliment this week, she said that since arriving at the college (January this year) the culture and approach to using learning technology has greatly improved and staff are keen to try new things without fear. It was great to hear that, but at the same time, I didn’t feel I could take all the credit. Rather than spending the last 8 months telling staff how they should be using learning technology, I have instead been building communities of practice, developing groups of innovative teachers, chairing a new working group with an open floor approach to discussions, training early adopters to deliver wider staff training and developing a blog where we can share stories of great teaching and learning from across the college. It hasn’t all been down to me. The teaching staff in my college have risen to the challenge and have loved having the chance to share ideas, support each other, challenge themselves and push the boundaries of their comfort zones. By surreptitiously sharing the responsibility for improving teaching through the mechanisms I have employed, staff are happy to make improvements. They feel a part of the shift, that it isn’t happening around them or to them, but that they are integrated with and important to that cultural change. I have thrown staff in the deep end with new technology, and by that I mean a completely new Virtual Learning Environment, and asked them to deliver training to the remaining teaching staff within a fortnight. They did brilliantly – proof that sharing responsibility, resourcing and enthusiasm can make all the difference.
Changing the culture of a college, school or any institution cannot be done by one person alone. It can only happen when staff feel empowered to share their own experiences, try new things without fear of failure and work together towards a common goal of improving the student experience. Sharing is genuinely caring, it’s all to do with caring about the student at the centre of what we do and knowing that by engaging in collaborative practice, each one of their learning experiences will be improved.