In my last post, “Are these the greatest challenges teachers face?” I shared a curated collection of challenges ranked in their priority order by a mix of educators. The greatest challenge as listed by the 40 participants was Quality teaching time with students.
The more time I spent looking at the data, the more questions I had. What does quality teaching time with students mean? What is the meaning of quality? Now the wording of the questions on the Google form most definitely influenced the responses so contextual colour is required. It is always required. While we may have similar problems in our schools, it is different in each context. The environment, the culture, the cohort, the policies, the community, these all play a role. A lack of quality teaching time with students for one teacher may be as a result of a school’s expectations to perform well on NAPLAN or it might be as a result of too many competing extra-curricular activities. It might be as a result of the range of capacities within the class itself. It might be parental expectations. Whatever the case may be, a problem is an opportunity or as Taiichi Ohno calls it “a kaizen (continuous improvement) opportunity in disguise”. Taiichi Ohno is the Former Executive Vice President of Toyota Motor Corporation and is the pioneer of the Toyota Production System, a system that allowed a small time Japanese car company to compete on a global scale with the big American car manufacturers. The 5 Whys technique was developed by Taiichi Ohno as a systematic problem solving tool and it was (and still is) an incredibly effective tool.
Spending time in this post trying to decipher the why for the number one listed challenge would be time spent speculating. What I want to spend this post talking about is how we bring colour and context to these challenges so that we can kaizen or continually improve. Solving the big (and small) challenges in education is a passion area of mine. I am interested in the subtlety, the details and the possibility to influence positive change through innovation. At the bottom of the form I sent out, I put the call out to see if there were educators out there who would be interested in working together to try and develop solutions for some of these problems. The rationale behind the survey was the development of the CoLearn MeetUp.
The CoLearn MeetUp is a meeting of educators and innovators to collectively problem solve the challenges teachers face in their classroom and schools through local action research and innovation. The CoLearn MeetUp is a meeting of educators and innovators to look at the challenges that you face in your classroom and to help you to design solutions to solve them CoLearners will share their insights and observations with other educators and be open to the collective feedback, insight and ideas you receive when you do. The CoLearn MeetUp is free, designed by educators and for you
The CoLearn MeetUp is not me selling a product or pushing professional development. It is built of the same ilk of a TeachMeet. It is reciprocity, teachers giving to other teachers and colearning together. Look at the CoLearn MeetUp as a gym buddy for innovation and change at your school. It is a set of friendly eyes asking how your innovation experiment is traveling. It is a sounding board for ideas and feedback. It is collaboration of the truest nature and professional learning of the highest degree. The more you put in, the more you get out of it.
We will be running the first CoLearn MeetUp on Wednesday July 13 at Collective Campus (1/20 Queen St, Melbourne) at 6.30pm. To continue the conversation, we have a Slack group set up that will allow educators a real-time communication platform to discuss the experiments or projects they devise. The CoLearn MeetUp is free. Please also connect with CoLearn MeetUp on Twitter (@colearnmeetup). We hope to see you there. Please RSVP on the CoLearn website and we look forward to colearning together.