Pedagogy is a serious sounding word that just means ‘the art, science or language of teaching’ It is often used by teachers to describe the method of getting the learning objectives into the students heads and attempting to keep them there. As professional knowledge around educational physiology has grown, pedagogy has taken more twists and turns. For example, teaching methods, or pedagogy, of the 1940’s would be heavy in rote learning in a lecture style classroom environment. Today the focus has turned to learning by doing and discovery through guided learning.
Most teachers I know love talking about pedagogy. At one school where I taught I was fortunate enough to be part of a ‘General Studies’ team who was allocated 80minutes a fortnight to meet and discuss how they were teaching. What worked. What didn’t. Teachers were inspired by each other, there was a genuine professional respect because we were able to learn from each other and were well aware of the teaching skills and talents of our co-workers. I remember those meetings fondly.
It is not only important to discuss pedagogy, but of course it is a teachers professional responsibility to record, document and assess the student’s learning, skills and understandings. Documentation is a requirement of every teacher, it is about accountability, in demonstrating that you are meeting your professional obligations and working in a thoughtful, intelligent way. Documentation should be more than writing a running record of students work samples, set aside in case of audit or parent complaint. Real pedagogical documentation should be ‘teacher focussed’ as it should inspire teachers to think about educational theories, analyse their students work deeply, research widely current learning theories in view of child psychology and revise and craft lessons that reflect deep research and understanding .
At this point I have lost most full time teachers – even if the thought of documentation is appealing teachers do not have the time and energy to devote to this practice. Let’s be honest, most don’t have the time for lunch or a quick loo break! Let’s put that very real problem aside for a moment and think about pedagogical documentation in terms of: if we did have the time and energy – why should we spend it in this way?
It’s about active advocacy! Pedagogical Documentation makes connections with families and the community, it show cases student understanding and demonstrates to interested parties that the classroom teacher is a wealth of professional experience and knowledge.
And in my opinion, that doesn't happen enough. Teachers are often overlooked as glorified babysitters. Documentation and promotion of that documentation allows the outside world to see the amazing things we teachers discuss in meetings. It allows those on the outside to appreciate that most teachers are amazing professionals, highly educated individuals who seek to get the most out of each child through positive encouragement an rigorous lessons.
1. Merriam-Webster Dictionary online
2. Fleet, Alma et al, What is Pedagogy Anyway, 2011. Children’s Services Central, NSW
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