Recently reading Fullen and Hargreaves superb book, Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School, which I blogged about yesterday, I was left with a call to action and plenty to reflect over. The final chapter of the book proposes guidelines for teachers to build their professional capital. This post contains my responses to those 10 ‘simplexic’ guidelines and action points for me to invest in for 2017.
1. Become a true pro
I do not lack dedication; putting in more hours is a ridiculous goal. But I can examine what I do with those hours and reprioritise. Spending greater time investing in study, research and learning from colleagues while doing less on box ticking, administrative and tasks that don’t contribute to better learning for my students is an achievable goal.
2. Start with yourself: examine your own experience
Is what I am doing truly working? How do I know? To be more effective I need to open up more channels of feedback so that I’m more aware of the impact I’m having on learners.
3. Be a mindful teacher
Practicing mindfulness is a vital next step for managing my own commitment and passion. This will help to build open-mindedness, defeat bias and monitor well-being. “Be mindful. Begin with yourself” (157). I’ve started exploring using the mindfulness apps headspace and calm.
4. Build your human capital through social capital
To address this challenge I need to value my wider group of colleagues more. It’s clear I have a core group of similar page (echo-chamber?) peers who I engage regularly in conversations with; but the wider staffroom has considerable resources in it that I’m not tapping into. The lunch table is a social capital opportunity.
Furthermore, while attending professional learning opportunities with colleagues outside of school happens regularly, continuation of those conversations into action rarely occurs. An effort to apply what was learnt collectively and collaborate on initiatives is a feasible goal.
5. Push and pull your peers
Improved communication helps build respect, trust and space to make change. “Don’t be shy about initiating a conversation about what it means to teach like a pro” (158).
6. Invest in and accumulate your decisional capital
Only through time and reflection can deicisional capital – being able to make very good judgement about teaching and learning – develop. Extending your sphere of influence is essential to developing capital. As is being open to give and receive feedback.
7. Manage up: help your leaders be the best they can be
I have found this guideline difficult to understand. On the one hand it seems to encourage empathy, but then it also encourages taking charge. I think the balance comes by having rationale and reasoned responses to management that develop partnership and collaboration.
8. Take the first step
Ask for help and model needing support before expecting others to seek assistance.
9. Surprise yourself
Go outside the box, innovate, seek out variety and connect outside your comfort zone.
10. Connect everything back to your students
Teaching like a pro is about “developing your own capability, enlarging your professional community, and increasing your capacity to benefit the learners you will touch in the future” (163). It’s all about the students. Ensure they are central to every conversation. Focus on the benefit to them. Make sure they are at the centre of everything you do.
Fullan, M. & Hargreaves, A. (2012) Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School. New York: Teachers College Press.