The Only Experts in Teaching are Teachers Themselves

This pearl of wisdom is one of my very favourite quotes; it is written on a pinup board…

This pearl of wisdom is one of my very favourite quotes; it is written on a pinup board by my desk as a constant reminder of the calibre of teachers I have the honour of working with on a daily basis.

In my role, I read a lot of literature about teaching, learning, leadership and all that lies in between. My desk is heaving under the weight of the minds of the likes of Hattie, Sharratt, Fullan, Tomlinson, Sherrington, Rosenshine to name a few, but this quote comes from a slightly different type of text; it can be found in chapter 1 of 10 Things Schools Get Wrong by Dr Jared Cooney-Horvath.

In the chapter, he compares the academic theorist to education practitioners. As educators we are inundated by academic theorists who inform us on what we should be doing in the classroom and what should work in theory. However, our teachers, the practitioners, inform us on what is realistically achievable, and more importantly, impactful in the classroom. They can articulate what they do and why they do it at any given moment within a sequence of learning. While they can articulate what should work, they have the expertise to ensure they implement what does work! And that is the difference, in my opinion, between a theorist and an expert.

Based on this notion that the experts in teaching are teachers themselves we redesigned our professional learning strategy to recognise and celebrate the expertise within our school, our teachers and staff.

And so, our St Hilda’s Learning Summit was created. With this year’s theme being Evolving the Expertise we engaged purely with staff within the school. A conference by our staff, for our staff. With seven themes for the day and four sessions per theme, there was absolutely something for everyone:

  • Teaching and Learning (Differentiation)
  • Teaching and Learning (Best Practice)
  • Innovation
  • Technology
  • Action Research
  • Operational Practice

Staff enjoyed the ability to tailor their professional learning to their specific interests, areas for growth and teaching and learning goals through their choice of sessions to attend. Run in our new ESSTEAM Studio, we utilised the technology to record the sessions and have since uploaded them to our Professional Learning Hub so staff can watch any sessions that they had missed. (That was one of the biggest complaints of the day; too many sessions staff wanted to attend running at the same time!)

Following the Summit in the morning, each department came together to share lunch at various locations around Perth. This gave the staff the opportunity to sit together, share their new learnings and socialise their thinking from the morning.

Overall, the first St Hilda’s Learning Summit was a resounding success and thus, we have already begun planning next year’s Summit; so watch this space!

Nicole Adams

Director of Learning Reimagined.