There is no one answer to how teachers improve. There is no one-size-fits-all intervention. There isn’t really even a need for it. If a teacher needs or want to improve, they only need to be given the agency and tools to make their own decision about what, how and when.
School districts and professional learning organizations really only need to set the conditions for and support the mindset of learning and improvement. Teachers, even the supposedly bad ones, are good at a lot of things. They know how to determine needs; they know how to find resources; and they know when authentic improvement has happened. All they really need to do is apply these skills to themselves. So many of them already do!
School districts could take the responsibility for enabling these professional learning opportunities. Over the last twenty years, teacher competency frameworks, training programs and workshops, and some external coaching and classroom practice frameworks, have all been developed with the goal of helping more teachers gain the knowledge and skills to provide all their students with the best possible education.
Many different approaches and strategies to teacher development have been tried. Except one.
Simply provide teachers the agency, the tools and the expectation to develop themselves professionally. Then basically just get out of the way, or just monitor the improvement. Of course, this is what mme moe does.
At mme moe, our mission is to work out the habits of effective learners, and then see how we can materialise those habits into functionality that everyone can use. We have worked with and interviewed business people, sportstars, teachers and principals to find out how they got to be as good as they are, and this is what we have found so far!
They have a habit of continuous reflection. Effective people have a habit of having a good, hard look at themselves. They are serious about getting better because their professional lives depend upon it. They use this reflection to be continually aware and mindful. Many of them, including the high performing athletes, keep a diary of their reflections.
They have a habit of targeted connecting either with people who can be useful to them, or with people who they can be useful for. The stereotype of the successful loner turns out to be not the case. And perhaps surprisingly, for effective people, it is not all about them. They have almost a service mentality and want to help other people.
Effective people leave no stone unturned to know their competence. If they are going to spend time and resources improving, they tend to work very hard to know their baseline competence – what they are good at and what they could be better at.
Effective people can see the big picture and can identify their rate of improvement. They see things through a holistic lens that gives them an insight into the general trajectory of their improvement process.
They absolutely prioritise. They know that there is always a lot to improve on. It doesn’t matter how good they are, there are always things they know they can improve on. But they also know that trying to improve on everything all at the same time means that they don’t end up improving anything. They know the most important things they have to get better at, and they know the most urgent things they have to get better at.
They don’t leave improvement to chance. They plan to improve. The break down fundamental objectives to specific targets, and they know when they need to reach identified milestones.
Effective people know that they can’t improve significantly without the support of their community. So they make sure they resource themselves by connecting to targeted material and people.
And finally, they learn what they need to learn when they need to learn it. They use their agency to get on demand access to learning resources.
These are our starting set of core principles for mme moe. If you are a teacher or a principal, mme moe is ready for you. Are they habits you would like to have in order to get better at what you do? If so, please contact us and we can see if we can’t adapt mme moe to your context!
Have you seen the ’10 things teachers want for professional development’ graphic below by Sylvia Duckworth (@sylviaduckworth) circulating the Internet at the moment? This is centre-field for us at mme moe in our mission to make learning better for students.
Here is how mme moe can help with each item on the list:
A voice and a choice in professional learning – This is crucial to teacher development. The alternative to agency is compliance-based PD. mme moe supports you to do the professional learning you want and need. It is called heutagogy, the next frontier beyond pedagogy and andragogy.
Professional learning that is relevant for their students – Whether it is learning how to better manage small group dynamics, or getting a better understanding of authentic assessment, or managing your personal energy better, mme moe will help you target your improvement to your students.
Professional learning that they can use straight away – We are not totally oblivious to the slow burn of a thoughtful, reflective approach to improving your teaching, but because we also like to see results quickly, you can use mme moe to dial-up your learning.
Professional learning that is created by professionals with classroom experience – We don’t necessarily agree that all teaching wisdom comes from the classroom, or that it can only come from a classroom, but either way, there is plenty of scope to dial-up the expertise you want and need through mme moe pathways.
Professional learning that is innovative and creative – Yes, but just as importantly, because it needs to be of good quality, mme moe allows you to vote (literally) on whether what is on offer is up to standard!
Professional learning that makes them better teachers – You can use mme moe to dial into a lot of professional learning, but we firmly believe that what makes you a better teacher is you, and your mindset. We know that the same professional learning experience can ignite some but send others to sleep. It is not necessarily the experience. It is you!
Professional learning that is practical and not theoretical – All practice has a theoretical base, so we think this is code for more doing, and less listening in professional learning activities. This depends, in our view, on how each person best learns. Some just need quiet spaces to read and think and work it through; some do fabulous sketch-noting; some want to argue and contest their way through to the learning, but in any event, mme moe pathways encourage you to learn in the way that you learn best.
Professional learning that allows teachers to collaborate and speak honestly – A safe space is needed for this to occur, and mme moe provides that space.
Professional learing that will be relevant for a long time – Well, at least until the particular learning or skill is superceded, and you can use mme moe to keep up to date in a fast changing education context.
Admin to attend and participate in professional learning – We have the same aspirations for principals and school management. It makes sense, therefore, that mme moe also exists for school leaders so that they too continuously and incrementally improve at what they do.
Paul is the Chief Learning Coach at mme moe. mme moe is the culmination of years of experience and expertise in assisting people to get better at what they do.