A substantial review (Joubert & Southerland, 2009) of research into what is effective in professional development highlights three key factors (i) it should be sustained over time and not a one-off event, (ii) that it is based on collaborative communities of teachers working together, and (iii) the development of subject knowledge is integral. mascil, therefore, is developing Professional Learning Communities that bring together teachers across schools to work together over time in collaboration to explore - in their classrooms - the implementation of inquiry learning approaches that connect to the world of work.

Unique blend of activities

Each community or network will meet regularly to consider the issues that are important to them in their teaching and will draw on the expertise of the group coordinator or trainer using the project's professional development toolkit to inform and stimulate their work. The toolkit provides key insights into three important domains (1) Ways of working (as a community and in classrooms) (2) Inquiry learning, and (3) Connecting learning to the world of work. It provides a unique blend of activities for teachers to stimulate their thinking and illustrates many of the materials that the project is collecting in its resource collection. It also gives ideas about how these materials might be used effectively with students.

Actively experiencing inquiry learning

In mascil, pre- and in-service teachers will actively experience inquiry learning themselves by working on carefully designed tasks and reflecting on their experiences. Between meetings, they will be challenged to work with their classes using mascil resources so that at their next meeting they can reflect with colleagues on inquiry teaching and learning that connects with the world of work, the changes that result in their practice, student activities and outcomes, and so on. This provides a 'spiral model' of collaborative professional development. After early shared experiences, groups will develop their own inquiry-based tasks in rich vocational settings to ensure localisation and shared ownership to stimulate their use.

Flexible models of professional development

An exciting and innovative aspect of the model of professional development that is being developed is that it will not only support face-to-face meetings of groups of teachers it will also be available online allowing groups to meet across boundaries (such as large distances). Over the lifetime of the project consortium partners will work in a range of different ways using the flexible models of professional development that will be supported exploring and refining the new tools that are being developed so as to ensure a widespread dissemination of inquiry based learning connected to the World of work by the end of 2016.

Reference

Joubert, M., & Sutherland, R. (2009). A perspective on the literature: CPC for teachers of mathematics. National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics. https://www.ncetm.org.uk/inquiry/9336

by Geoffrey Wake