Not Invented Here…Improved here!

I recently took up a new position with Junior Cycle for Teachers as Team Leader in the North East of Ireland for Whole-school Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

It is taking me a while to learn about my new role and as a consequence reposition eLearningIsland. This is my 328th posting since February 2009 and I want to continue blogging about aspects of my thinking on matters educational.

The tagline of eLearningIsland is thinking about teaching and learning and that is what I have been at over the last number of years. The context however was by and large as a classroom-teacher with an interest in all things digital.

eLearningIsland has been good for me personally and professionally as I grew in confidence about my practice in the digital space and made it explicit in regular blog postings.

I am now out of the classroom and in time will be increasingly in the staffroom – what will I draw on for my musings and reflections? The weekly Monday night #edchatie discussion was recently about “What type of CPD would you like/find useful? Fred Boss had it collated in Chirpstory and I have pulled out a number of themes (there are more)

  • The importance of Twitter as an online professional network
  • The lack of time (or quality time) for CPD
  • The role of the Inspectorate from the Department of Education and Skills
  • Peer-observation in class and self-observation on video
  • Reading research (or not)
  • The Not Invented Here syndrome
  • The quality of reflection
  • Sources of CPD – subject associations, unions, supports like the Professional Development Services for teachers

This #edchatie discussion was on the same day that I attended the Joint Managerial Body 2014 Education Conference in Croke Park Dublin.

Three of the speakers, Chief Inspector Howard Hislop, National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, Director, Norman Emerson and Education Consultant, Dr. Mark Fennell all spoke about the importance of a collegiate approach to CPD – teachers working together, sharing practice to improve teaching and learning.

The work of John Hattie, Paul Black, Dylan Wiliam and Daisy Christodoulou was regularily cited. Many of you will be aware of Hattie’s analysis on what most influences student learning in the tweet below.


We definitely as a teachers, and I am speaking here in a worldwide context, need to take the best from research. We need to read what was “invented” abroad and reposition it in our own contexts.

Yes, take Hatties research and examine effective feedback in your own context and share and discuss it with others. Make notes, look at the copies, talk regularly with the students – see how they (and you!) develop over time, reflect…Not Invented Here, Improved Here


Professional development: Walk-through/Walkabout!

A challenging educator I have come across on Twitter is Craig Kemp.

Kemp is an advocate of positive reflective change in teaching and learning. The piece that I first noticed from him was published on his blog last November. It was titled “Classroom Walkthroughs – Inspirational PD for your school“.

I had intended writing about his posting for the past-while and was reminded last weekend when Amy Burvall (on Twitter of course) wrote a posting (with some great graphics) called “PD Walkabout: A Tourist in One’s Own Land“.

Like Kemp, Burvall asks great questions!

  • What if we were able to visit other divisions and departments and do a little ethnography?
  • What if teachers could give tours of their classrooms, sharing examples of student work, discussing the learning spaces and their pedagogy?

Both educators give practical worked examples as to how we as teachers might go about this, in a way that celebrates learning by teachers, who appreciate themselves and their work in the classroom, as adult learners.

Both blogs are well worth reading and I would love to hear of examples from Ireland and beyond of teachers who have engaged in this type of process.

In Ireland we have many staff-meetings where teachers share aspects of practice. I wonder could we encourage a sharing of that practice into our classrooms? I’m sure its happening – anyone happy to tell us about it?

 Image credit: Amy Burvall, published in her blog posting cited above.


Pedagogies for Change… and Martin Buber

I want to give a “shout out” to an online resource I refer to from time to time in my own research on things educational -

They describe themselves as “millions of users and hundreds of pages exploring education, learning and community. We specialize in the theory and practice of informal education, social pedagogy, lifelong learning, social action, and community learning and development.”

I find infed particularly useful for readable pieces on educational researchers and educational ideas.

It is the type of site that is non-threatening to the person not trained in research and also useful to the researcher who needs some insight into an aspect of education.

Have a look at their full list of “Thinkers and Innovators” here.

I rather like the one on Martin Buber and the acknowledgement of his focus on relationship and the dialogical nature of existence. I wonder what Buber would have made of social-media?

I like to think though that he too might have used

Photo: The picture of the Martin Buber stamp is taken from from Flickr and is reproduced under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) Creative Commons licence. The photostream is listed as ‘On Being’. photos/speakingoffaith/4970374742/