FE Teaching and Learning Conference

FE Teaching and Learning Conference

FE Teaching and Learning Conference

The conference started very promisingly and I found that I recognied many of the themes from Toni Fazaeli’s keynote. She started with a brief history of IFL, and it was interesting to see that as the organisation returns to it’s voluntary body roots that membership continues to rise.

I often struggle when teaching is presented as an analogy, especially when this is an analogy to some kind of performance, but I liked Toni’s analogy to the hypocratic oath. She said that tutors always want the best for their students despite the stretch they feel from funding, managers, awarding bodies. & OFSTED who seemingly want different things. This certainly came through during the session on Passionate Teachers at the RSC-YH conference this June.

She made comparisons to other professions, making links with the freedoms/autonomy that belonging to a professional allows with the accountability that is attached to that. She suggested that, if you are not experiencing this freedom/accountability then a debate needs to be had within the organisation need on how to get to this.

What is professional development?
She talked about the many definitions for CPD and the dual professionalim model that IFL propose around improving relevant skills in subjet area and updating methods and approaches in teaching.

From this stage of the presentation I took away the following themes:
1) planning ahead is important.
2) the importance of networks to stop isolation
3) We all have different CPD priorities, so a mass ‘CPD’ product is never going to work. A personalised approach is needed with a richness of activities beyond workshops, events.
3) It is hard for teachers to identify the impact of their CPD.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by this as these were the very themes that emerged from my small scale project. She quitly strongly stressed the ‘one off, whole day’ staff development event wasn’t the most effective CPD for tutors to undertake and I’m not sure what I think about this. Such events are important networking, team building events and I would question the role these would play in establishing and maintaining a strong culture of sharing and discussion.

Research
Research shows that teachers have an impact on learning and almost all of this is a positive impact. She cited the work by John Hattie, and it was interesting to see that only about half of the room knew of this research. What does this say about teaching and evidence-based research?

She mentioned again about evidencing impact and the difficulties inherent in this. It is something that the IFL will continue to discuss.

The importance of Teachers
I am hearing more and more recently about teaching and teachers (as opposed to learning and learners). As a teacher this certainly makes a refreshing change. It’s good to hear that yes, we are important and we make a difference. Reviewing Hattie’s work, Toni spoke about how teachers not only had an impact on learners it was almost always a positive impact.

However, how do we make the choices in terms of investing in a method/approach? Toni gave the example of learning styles in that there has been a huge investment in terms of money and time yet the research is now showing minimal impact. So it is important to look at the examples that do have the biggest impact on learning and invest in these.

Invest in Teachers
It seems like such a no brainer, yet here is the chef exec of a professional teaching body presenting to senior managers about a ‘strong business case for organisations investing in teachers’. This use of business-speak mades me feel a little sad, is this the route we need to take to gain professional status?

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