Creative collaboration

Over the past 18 months, I have been involved in one of the most powerful projects in my career to date. At first glance, the role of facilitating a group of educators as they explore questions related to creative learning may not appear so very innovative. On closer inspection, however, any enquiring eye will discover a powerful and very real example of teachers and teaching assistants collaborating to build a purposeful and safe learning community. The result of which is having a powerful and sustainable impact on learning opportunities for children and on the professional confidence of all the adults involved.

I have learnt so much about the importance and value of investing time and space to provide quality regular opportunities for educators to reflect on, develop and evaluate their practice. At times it has felt so slow in comparison to the frenetic nature of everyday school life that I have worried that we’re not achieving anything. I have been acutely aware of my responsibility to demonstrate concrete outcomes (the production of ‘stuff’) in order to justify teachers’ time out of the classroom and away from their classes, but I haven’t known what ‘stuff’ we could present. Instead, I have focused relentlessly on documenting the conversations, discussions and reflections of the group members. I have subjected them all to their own documentations including writing, video and digital photography and insisted that they provide their own sources of evidence of impact throughout the meetings. They have kept their own learning logs, recording ideas they pick up from each other and things they have tried with their own classes and other colleagues back in school. I have set homework for them and required them to take a ‘Creativity Pledge’ at each meeting to state what they had done, the impact of this, their next steps and some possible outcomes. It has been rigorous for all involved, but this approach has, without doubt, sustained a purposeful, thoughtful and very very safe learning community.

I hope that the findings that the research group produce provide a way forward for all schools to support innovative developments in teaching and learning and take 21st century learning by the scruff of the neck once and for all. This is an 18 month snapshot and there will, I know, be much, much more to follow…

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