30 Jan 2015

Professionalism...what does it mean?

On Wednesday my school's staff attended a seminar with Tony Burkin from 'Interlead' titled 'Developing Mindsets for Learning and Leading'.

It was a really interesting insight into professional practice (not to be confused with teaching practice) and how our professionalism, and having a 'growth' mindset (ie willing to learn, change, reflect) as adults makes a difference to our teaching practice and working relationships as teachers.

Tony gave us a hand-out with comparisons of 'fixed' mindsets and 'growth' mindsets.

These are the notes I made along the way...


Andragogy. Leading adults. 
Pedagogy. Leading children. 

In our schools we need teachers who are learners and don't see themselves as experts, as experts think they know it all and don't want to change or learn more. 

Book: Carol Dweck 2006 'Mindset'

Book by Jim...? 'Unmistakable Impact'

To learn we need to feel anxious. This anxiety happens because we often hold a mindset we believe that "above all else I must be successful in my eyes and the eyes of others - success defines my worth." So if we don't think we will be successful we get anxious and from this we feel threatened and will either fight or flight to avoid it. This might include blaming others (staff,pupils, leaders, parents etc) and avoidance tactics etc. 

This means we prefer to want positive feedback aka praise over honest feedback and therefore do not learn or progress. It is a FIXED mindset. No growth. 

The opposite mindset of this is seeing the challenge as an opportunity where we feel fearless. We don't fear failure as we see it as evidence of being stretched and on the first step to growing/improvement. "I have to risk failure in order to grow. ". This person will internalise the blame for failure and look inwards firstly their own contribution to the failure.  This is a GROWTH mindset. Teachers need to embrace failure and see it as a way to move forward. 


Michael Fullan. 'professional capital' 2012
There is a difference between teaching practice and professional practice:
Teaching: happens in the classroom: (competency): positive behav management, curriculum knowledge, instructional practices, formative assessment. It's how you deliver your programme WITH the children. 

Professional: happens outside the classroom: (professionalism/disciplinary): meet agreed standards, accept that actions we take contribute to reputation of our profession, choose to work in accord with high standards of the profession even when we could get away with less, assess practices to see if try belong and add to those practices, seek to have continual growth. It is the planning,reporting,collaborating with others, appraisal and reflection,compliance re reporting and budgets etc. 

Teachers Council Principles of Professional Practice: autonomy, justice, responsible care and truth (see code of ethics for registered teachers)

Carrying these out is what gives public confidence in you. 

Engaging in professional practices will have flow on effects on your teaching practice. 

Hidden links between the two practices:
Teaching practice is visible (like the top part of the iceberg), while prof practice is the huge part that holds up good teacher practice (the hidden part of the iceberg) - if don't attend to the prof practices the 'ice' at the waterline will start to melt and the teaching practices will melt away too.

Thinking: What's the difference between Reflecting and Wondering?
Reflecting: is about self-improvement (see Parker J. Palmer 1998 book) - needs to be focused and a habit - Lt.  Col. Hal Moore, Vietnam: What's happening? What's not happening? How can I influence what's not happening?  - a reflective practitioner has a select set of questions that they never deviate from, and these take you deeper and deeper into your thinking each time, it takes structure and discipline and energy to do it. 

Wondering: just happens, is not planned and tends to be random, takes little energy, and is often not useful

See the Teacher Council handbook for the 12 characteristics or good reflection points. 

reflection v inquiry:
Prochaska's Model of Change: 
1. Pre-Contemplation (state of bliss)
2.  Contemplation (thinking about it)
3. Preparation (putting together plan of action)
4. Action (trying it out) often gets to a stagnant point  as it is hard to implement the change
5. Maintenance (developing it into a habit)
6. Termination
STEPS 1-3 are reflective steps while STEPS 4-5 are the inquiry steps, the action steps. Only in the action step will the right questions come up that you need to find answers to that will see you grow in your teaching practice. Inquiry is putting into practice our reflecting. It goes beyond 'learning' to CONTINUAL IMPROVEMENT. 

Lifelong learning = continual improvement
Taking what has been learnt and applying it. 

Professional journaling rather than a professional diary. 

If only commenting on steps 1-3 of Prochaska's steps, then that is a diary merely of inner thoughts. 
The important stuff is steps 4-6, the comments on what is happening while implementing the changes, this is the learning trip,the questions I'm finding as I action changes to my teaching - concentrating on the failures (growth mindset) rather than just the success (fixed mind set)

Learning is about feeling uncomfortable, it will mean at some stage feeling ignorant or incapable, ignorant or negative or disruptive. A person with a fixed mindset will want to avoid being seen as these things but someone with a growth mindset will expect it to be par for the course as part of professional growth. 

Three types of failure: preventative, complex, intelligent. We want to foster intelligent failure: adapting, innovating, attempting, trialling. To do this you need to operate in Steps 4-6, and with intelligent failure eventually you will inquire and change and repeat the steps until you have a teaching practice or programme that is successful. 

Professionally serious OR gifted amateur?? Are you not satisfied with where you are at OR do you think you are an expert and don't need to make changes?

NEXT STEPS for me/school:
*return to my coaching notes from 2012 2013 to see about giving feedback and coaching/mentoring eg within appraisals. 

be sure to speak to colleague ASAP after an observation and to be open to the comments as the person receiving the feedback/suggestions

Staff personally each journaling about a priority learner. All do that so trying it first time together.

Look at our code of ethics and what it means for us as the professionals working here at this school

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