Learning Principles: A Thinking Toolkit for Teachers (Module 1)
Thinking Toolkit for Teachers is a professional learning programme delivered in collaboration between Ecolint and the School of Education at Oxford Brookes University. The programme provides teachers with an opportunity for depth-engagement with educational research in a way that makes research directly relevant to everyday classroom practice. Delivered in easily digestible, modular sections, the programme provides a space for dialogue about the 'big' questions that underpin professional life for teachers - about the practice of being a teacher, and the ethical and pedagogic principles that underpin our practice.
The programme is described as a ‘thinking toolkit’ because it is intended to equip teachers with concepts and ways of thinking that can be applied practically in diverse aspects of their professional lives. Specifically, these tools will help to shape research-informed practice around the following five essential statements, which in turn link to the broader areas of inquiry outlined in parentheses:
- Knows me (Culture, Structure, and Diversity)
- Checks what I already know and can do (Learning, Knowledge, and Understanding)
- Teaches in lots of different ways (Mind, Memory, and Meaning)
- Pauses to see if I understand (Fear, Failure, and Flourishing)
- Gives me choices (Confidence, Courage, and Criticality)
The first module of the programme deals with the first two statements. The thinking toolkit offered by this programme will help teachers to feel more confident, critical, informed, and fulfilled by developing research literacy. Ultimately, the programme aims to dissolve the traditional distinction between educational theory and classroom practice, instead championing the value of seeing practice and theory as inextricably linked parts of what it means to be an educator.
The toolkit comprises the following tools:
Critical questioning of practice informed by educational theory
Cultural awareness: The capacity to understand and respond to cultural complexity
Understanding the Mind: an emerging understanding of how cognitive processes work, and alternative framings of the relationship between mind, memory, and meaning in education
Research Literacy: The ability to engage with educational research in an informed and confident way, adopting your own critical stance towards evidence
A Sociological outlook on your practice that takes into account the broader economic and political landscape of international schooling, particularly in relation to the future aspirations and anxieties of our students.
Productive Dissent: The capacity to engage critically with theory, research, and practice in a way that allows you to step back, think afresh about your personal and professional intentions, and to actively and productively shape positive change in your setting.
Why should you take part in this programme?
This programme offers teachers:
- The space to reconnect with educational theory and research in a structured, supportive, and inspiring way
- Access to literature and leading scholars in the field of education
- An opportunity to reconsider and extend your classroom practice, challenging yourself with new ideas
- A chance to engage in dialogue with other like-minded colleagues in international settings, establishing a vibrant community that will continue after the programme
What have other teachers said about this programme?
Being able to think more critically about structures, systems and subtle dynamics that shape schools and their culture has definitely been a transformative experience.
The course has fundamentally changed how I view the purpose of education and therefore has had an impact on most areas of my practice.
I really enjoyed the change in thinking that I experienced. It was very significant in helping me to see the bigger picture of what I do every day.
Programme Structure - Module 1 (see details HERE):
The programme will take place at a moderate pace over one academic year, beginning in February 2022, and will be organised across four sessions exploring two key statements:
- My Teacher Knows me (Culture, Structure, and Diversity)
- My Teacher Checks what I already know and can do (Learning, Knowledge, and Understanding)
Each theme will be covered over two 90 minute sessions, giving time for reading, reflection, and discussion between sessions. The sessions will take place synchronously online, with asynchronous discussion between sessions via a dedicated online Moodle platform hosted by Oxford Brookes University. All readings will be structured and guided by the programme lead, and readings will be made directly accessible to participants. The programme will progress at a moderate pace in order to give participants the time to engage thoughtfully with the themes, and with each other.
The sessions will take place online via Zoom on Monday afternoons from 4-5.30PM. The timeline for the programme is as follows:
- February 28th: Session One: Inception workshop and EE 1: My teacher knows me
- March 21st: Session Two: EE 1 continued
- May 2nd: Session Three: EE 2
- May 16th: Session Four: EE 2
Module 2 will take place in the fall 2022 (separate registration - dates TBC)
Outcomes: Ultimately, the programme aims to give teachers the time to engage intellectually in a community of practice focused on exploring the core principles underpinning teaching and learning. This is part of an institutional shift towards cultures of thinking, through which teachers will be encouraged and empowered to engage in intellectual work of interrogating their practice to seek the best outcomes for staff and students alike. At the end of the programme, participants will complete a reflective piece of writing in which they outline a plan for research engagement beyond the life of the programme, such as a reading group, adopting a critical or philosophical approach to a specific practice, engaging students in discussions of programme themes, or carrying out discrete research projects of their own - or simply strengthening the intellectual life of the organisation through talking, reading, writing, and discussion about education.
Programme Lead: The programme will be led by Dr. Patrick Alexander, Reader in Education and Anthropology at Oxford Brookes University and Director of the Centre for Educational Consultancy and Development. Guest speakers will deliver specific sessions. Often these guest speakers will be the authors of the readings offered to teachers, giving them direct access to academic leaders in the field of educational research.