Space for teacher creativity?

Core to Tide~ approach is the idea of designing ‘space’ for practitioners to take the lead and be creative in the context of outcomes for learners.

How do we see this? 

Core to any project process is the question: what will learners gain?  This question does not lend itself to a tick box approach. It generates questions about learner perspectives, their skills and how they apply their learning.  Planning engages work on dispositions as well as ideas, competences and skills.  It also involves work to offer experiences.  See Development Education Commission document: Essential Learning [link] - [pages 21 - 27] 

Global learning is about engaging with real world concerns but more than a means of “getting a message across”.  It is important to recognise the educational value of global learning and how it can contribute to meeting the needs of learners. Teacher to teacher learning proved to be an effective strategy. It is core to Tide”s approach.  Also it can improve delivery in schools drawing on the creativity of those with leadership potential working alongside those new to global learning work and those in need of particular support.  However it is also essential to recognise that building practitioner confidence in this way of working takes time.  Notions of both ‘leadership’ and ‘creativity’ are key.

It is important to engage practitioner priorities.   Such priorities are driven by many factors including every day pressures, personal motivation and interests and professional development.

The principle and the strategy was, from the outset, about a model of enabling teacher to teacher work.  Learning about Africa [link] pages 12 -14 gives you a flavour of how it was seen in the early stages of our work - [1979].  

A project provides a defined opportunity [for example focusing on an issue or challenge] linked to a particular group [who for example have a common interest eg in particular curriculum] with a time-frame and a commitment to share outcomes with other practitioners.  The latter commitment provides both focus and motivation to the process.  It is useful to think in terms of creative leadership. 

The six components of ‘professional learning communities’ described by Alma Harris reflect our experience.  They are: “focus on learning; a collaborative culture stressing learning for all; collective enquiry into best practice; an action orientation [ie learning by doing or trialling]; a commitment to continuous improvement; and a focus on improved learning outcomes.”

Her article 'Creative Leadership - developing future leaders’ offers useful insights.  Link:  http://www.almaharris.com/downloads/creative_leadership.pdf

The work of Etienne Wenger who talks about  “cultivating a community of practice” provided a stimulus to Tide~ thinking about process and the elements of project design.  He also highlights the importance of the relationship between practitioners with different roles [eg Policy makers, Heads, Teachers].  That inter-relationship is key to much of Tide~ strategy.

He suggests, as is reflected in our own debates, that it is important to pay equal attention to “the domain, the community, and the practice”.  

Learning from this the Tide~ approach seeks to:

  • build an identity profiling shared interest and seeking membership commitment from practitioners to the challenge of improving learner understanding and engagement with development and global issues. - [the domain] 
  • enable network members to engage in joint activities, help each other, and share information and resources.  And facilitate sub-networks focusing on particular projects and through that enable them to learn from each other. -[the community]. 
  • support practitioners to develop shared resources: experiences, stories, tools, and ways of addressing recurring problems ... in short a shared practice - [the practice]. 

Link: https://wenger-trayner.com/introduction-to-communities-of-practice/