I feel very strongly that the aim of all educational organisations should be to model lifelong learning. This has the advantage of teaching students by example that learning is an enjoyable process that really is on-going. However, to create teaching and learning communities, proof must be made that the professional and personal development of each member of the group is taken very seriously indeed.
Nothing will happen if the only way of sharing is through monitoring. Sharing has to happen in all directions and this can be tricky as some of the group members’ skills will be more visible than others. Every contribution that has the potential to move Learning and Teaching forward by making us consider a different way to do things should be valued. This should be considered regardless of experience or status within the organisation.
Within our Faculty, I have considered different ways of “growing together as a learning community”:
· Providing opportunities to share ideas and resources through my bulletin and Faculty meetings -by asking for contributions and allocating meeting slots for sharing-“Bring and Brag”-example of a powerpoint by a colleague who wanted to reflect through educational reading on how students’ concentration and listening skills could be developed ;
· Identifying niches of expertise that have a potential for positive impact in the classroom: cross-curricular, extra-curricular, pastoral, ICT integration… ;
· Constantly evaluating our practice as a group and providing opportunities for self-assessment. The evaluation needs to be honest and respected by the other members of the group if it is shared. The discussions started by the self-audit will also help support the more formal development plans linked with performance management;
· Providing resources and opportunities to find out more about a particular area of interest through our Faculty bulletin and its links to My Languages and Diigo /Del.icio.us . This would equate to developing our students' independent learning skills-provide scaffolding and opportunities for extension work!
Locally, ideas can be cross-fertilised through subject meetings and StrategicLearning Networks consisting of a number of local schools with very different profile.
Nationally, lists like Linguanet and mfl resources are also invaluable to refresh and exchange ideas, but participation will often depend on ICT skills and access at home. The same goes with the international professional connections now possible through networking sites like Twitter or Diigo .
To some extent, a number of Wikis have also been set up with that aim and I hear that Second Life is likely to be the next developmental tool, with an International Language Conference being scheduled for 23rd/ 24th May 2008…