Description of site/context
This professional development originated from a request from a group of teachers in a network to investigate the relationship between literacy and history.
Conduct of sessions/project
The sessions were delivered over three separate full days of professional learning. The three days were planned using a spaced learning approach held over a period of months. The use of spaced learning allowed participants to gradually develop concepts about literacy and history and to trial ideas in their classrooms between the three sessions. The advantage of this approach was that teachers were able to bring their classroom experiences to the next session and this enabled us to incorporate these ideas into the session and also to address issues that arose from classroom practice. A further advantage of the spaced learning approach was that rather than providing a pre-prepared package, the three sessions were planned and modified in response to teachers’ ideas and so became more relevant to the participants’ contexts. This approach also meant that ideas and experiences from different teachers could be shared amongst the whole group.
There were a number of positive outcomes with this type of professional learning. It supported the development of teacher agency by giving the participants some control over the direction and content of the sessions and encouraging them to feel empowered and part of the learning process. This approach proved to be very successful and led to a further series of sessions to be covered over a period of 12 months that took the form of an Action Research Cycle. In this cycle teachers engaged in a project of their own devising over 12 months based on data they had collected in their own classrooms. (The Action Research Cycle is described in more detail in Pedagogical Change and School Renewal.) After the three spaced learning sessions the teachers were keen to engage in further long-term professional learning over which they had control. An added benefit was encouraging teachers to participate as a community of learners.