Building on our October 2017 Professional Learning Days ‘Collaborative Learning: learning together, inspiring success’, our 11 Professional Learning Partners from distinct roles across BSB worked to create an ambitious, innovative and effective Professional Learning Symposium on Thursday 25 and Friday 26 October, 2018:
Connecting, Collaborating, Creating: A Celebration of Learning
This year’s unique event developed on last year’s aims to invite all staff to share good practice, allow time and space to reflect, and offer colleagues autonomy to customise their development to their needs, by pushing the boundaries a little further to develop student learning across all phases of education, as we came together as one-school, one organisation, united in its learning.
A powerful start and integral part to this year’s symposium was the active involvement of our students. Close to 40 students took part in this year’s Professional Learning Days, opening our symposium, speaking in the keynote presentation on their learning preferences, delivering sessions for staff on ‘The Use of One-Note’, ‘Effective Student Leadership’, ‘The Year 10 Student Project: Barriers to Learning and The Value of Round Table/ Outside Speakers From Student Perspectives’, providing technical and administrative support at the event and taking on the role of reporters to gather immediate feedback and reflection on our learning. These were first steps as a school to directly include students in staff professional learning.
This year 56 of our BSB colleagues from teaching and operational roles volunteered to lead sessions on the themes of: Leadership, Exploring Practice, Tools for Learning, Effective Learning and Voices with the aims to connect, collaborate and create, inspired by our guiding statements.
To give a flavour of the two days, some examples of sessions held were: ‘Learning To Coach Colleagues’, ‘Enhancing Learning With Green Screen’, ‘Understanding More About Dyspraxia’ and ‘A View Behind The Scenes Of The Maintenance Team‘.
Another new element this year were the close to 20 guests we invited, from like-minded institutions, with the purpose of respectfully challenging our thinking, combining our wealth of inside expertise with external experience to create a knowledge bank that was greater than the sum of its parts. Being challenged in our learning in this way requires confidence, courage and resilience, it’s not always easy to open-up to colleagues and receive feedback, but as long as there is enough respect and trust, we are able to share new perspectives, stimulate creativity, deepen our learning and build capacity.
A strong emphasis across the two days was one of respect and autonomy. There was an expectation on staff and students to reflect after sessions and take ownership for their learning; essentially, each of us took from the days what we invested in them.
Talking to a group of our Year 13 students about the two days, they commented that they were initially curious and excited about “entering the world of how teachers trained on such days”. They experienced much more “excitement in the atmosphere” than they had expected and remarked on how “caring and supportive BSB staff were of each other”. They reflected personally on how “giving and receiving challenging feedback was an important life skill” and the importance of a ‘growth mindset’ to respond to adversity. It is clear that the student perspectives were enlightening and more work needs to be done to build on their capacity as agents of change.
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* Leadbetter, C. (2008) We-Think: Mass innovation, not mass production. Profile Books, London.