Embedding authentic learning

A few years back our school spent a fair bit of time planning and developing our learning mission statement. We had staff days devoted to building what was to become our learning statement. It was a great collaborative whole school process with staff working together through plenty of research, white boarding, small group sessions all focused on getting to the essence of what our school saw as the core beliefs of our position on learning.

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One very obvious contender we kept coming back to was linking students learning to the real world. We viewed and processed plenty of research with practical classroom wisdom that said students learnt best when they can connect a classroom concept or question like “How do we develop and show values that will allow us to make our world a better place for the next generation”?

A few years on we are still examining our position on learning and our beliefs and trying to continue to stand by or behind them everyday in our school. Sometimes we look for easy boxes to tick that demonstrate the principles of authentic learning and sometimes it’s harder as we will start examining our teaching program’s with a more critical lens and explore if these assessments we are developing actually match our beliefs in our learning statement.

This translates as a need to spend time as teachers exploring how we assess our students learning. In 2015 we are examining greater collaboration and meeting time at our school to enable these conversations to occur amongst staff. Increasingly we spend time now in departments or one out staff put in charge of developing a task but are finding as we build our school wide pedagogy, what we call LIBERATE at our school, that we need to redefine and constantly review what we are doing. This is a good thing and is now a big part of the AITSL teacher performance framework.

I’m reading a lot on my twitter #PLN about teacher mind sets and ideas put forward from Carol Dweck. Ultimately she is saying that teacher mind sets need to be about being open to change rather than a static mindset that sees change as a conflict or tension. Keeping assessment real for our students demands that we as teachers embed review processes into our professional work that sees us constantly changing building, modifying the learning experiences for our students to make them as authentic as possible we cause then we know we link the learning to the students world and build connections that better engage them.

Our students demand nothing less than this.

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