It’s Our Responsibility to Engage Them

Here’s an illustration from a teacher working our Learning by Design Project, of the kind of working relationships in the New Learning classroom.

‘At our school, all the teachers work in teams. We have two teachers per classroom. We also have quite a few teachers-in-training, which means that sometimes we have three or four teachers in the same room. It is a very collaborative environment for both the students and for us’, said Roseanne, a grade 4-5 teacher. ‘The kids see us working collaboratively together and this becomes a model … a model of working together.’

‘Yes, when Roseanne and I work together,’ offered Lucy, her teaching partner, ‘there is a strong sense of collaboration and mutual respect. We work side-by-side, our relationship is based on a shared understanding of where we are going and how we want to get there. That’s how we work, we discuss what we are doing, we talk with each other every day, every session … that’s just the process we have immersed ourselves in.’

‘When we’re planning we’re continually asking ourselves questions such as: ‘Where’s the energy going to come from for this task? How are we going to motivate our kids? How are the kids going to apply this?’ Roseanne added. ‘Because we believe the responsibility for creating this sense of energy and motivation rests with the teacher, with us, with Lucy and me.’

Mario, who team-teaches with Andrea at the same school, picked up on the theme of teacher responsibility observing that ‘we have learned to read our kids really well … the energy levels, the sense of engagement … If a class is not working we don’t put the blame on the kids, it’s our responsibility to engage them.’

‘I think this sense of teacher responsibility is evident across the whole school,’ Mario added. ‘If you listen to conversations in the staff room you don’t hear the toxic language of kids being blamed. Teachers at this school take responsibility … we take responsibility for our teaching, for the effectiveness of what we do with our kids.’

‘And because we work in teams we are always talking about how we can be even more effective … how we can be better at what we do.

Burrows, Peter, Bill Cope, Mary Kalantzis, Les Morgan, Kieju Suominen and Nicola Yelland. 2006. ‘Data from the Australian Research Council Learning By Design Project.’ in Unpublished Manuscript.