What? The twin concepts of the teacher-as-learner and the teacher-as-researcher are central to the practice of Learning by Design – practice is the medium via which professional learning and research are played out – practice is quite literally that which one learns from and through. Learning by Design provides a professional language – concepts and terminology – and a theory of teaching and learning which supports and scaffolds the teacher-as-learner and the teacher-as-researcher. The two roles are interrelated and interdependent as the activities which teachers engage in to capture, document, preserve, analyse, discuss and share their practice serve the purposes of professional learning and research, providing rich insights into how and why learners learn.
When considering the question ‘Who are the learners?’ in Learning by Design, teachers and students are both learners and teachers. Students teach their teachers via the responses they make to the teacher’s designs, which they create and enact, and more directly via the transfer of knowledge and know-how that the teacher may lack.
Being a teacher-researcher means:
collecting, reflecting on and analysing the ‘artefacts’ which are created through or as a consequence of your practice such as:
- teaching plans, images, audio and/or video recordings of the processes you engage in when you plan and when you teach;
- samples of student work – ‘before and after’ evidence of the consequences of your teaching;
- student responses to your teaching and what these responses mean to you;
- sharing and discussing with teaching peers your observations, data, evidence and analyses: What does it all mean? What are the consequences, significances and implications, for you, for your students and for how you relate to and work with your colleagues?
- presenting your evidence, findings and conclusions to colleagues and peers in coherent, compelling ways.
Why? When one’s practice, and the practice of one’s colleagues, becomes the ground for learning and for research that practice is invariably altered and affected by that learning and research, and by the professional dialogue which it fosters. The process of designing and enacting learning – being a teacher – becomes a deeply reflective and considered endeavour. When such learning and research are supported by a shared pedagogical language and collaborative, collegiate and dialogical engagement – teachers talking about and sharing insights from their practices – a professional learning community springs up in the school. This community is attuned to and continually looking for evidence of learning. Belonging to such a community as it evolves and develops results in a culture of professionalism