Teachers acknowledge that in the 21st century knowledge construction is a social process and factor this into their approach to teaching. It is often forgotten that teachers are learners too and that their knowledge construction and growth in teaching can also be greatly improved and developed through interaction with other teachers. Too often teachers are isolated from their peers as they focus solely on their own class to the exclusion of all others, they come together in the staffroom or for formal meetings but rarely have the opportunity to discuss practice. A wealth of knowledge and experience is left ‘untapped’ in teacher’s own schools.
Lieberman & Mace’s (2010), Making Practice Public: Teacher Learning in the 21st Century, outlines the positives of this approach to teacher education from a local as well as a global perspective. They describe making practice public as meaning making objects and events of practice (such as videos, work samples, photos, etc.) and reflections on practice available to educational audiences. Current technologies are the means to do this, they allow the practice to become not only local but global and open up a different conversation about teaching broadening the outlook on a particular topic or issue.
Learning from each other in a local setting can be best facilitated through professional learning communities. Working in communities to improve practice not only allows teachers to learn from each other but also helps build relationships which over time leads to increased commitment to each other and to further learning. The most effective form of professional development is that which is accessed as needed to address a particular practice or issue identified. Teachers working in communities can be the starting point for this professional development for each other in many cases as they access the professional knowledge of each teacher in the community. Sharing practices with others utilises the experiences of teaching and the learning gained from them and allows these experiences and expertise to be discussed, dissected and possibly applied to different situations. Further professional development can then be accessed in a way that is relevant to the context and needs of the learning community at a specific time.
Social networking is one way that the local can become global. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Pinterest are all social networking sites that allow for connections to be made between like-minded people and can therefore be opportunities for professional learning and development. Teacher librarians need to lead the way in making clear to teachers the benefits of social networking and lead by example in utilising social networking in their professional lives for the benefit of students and teachers.
Take a look at some examples of teaching practice being made public here: http://insidewritingworkshop.org/
Lieberman, A., & Mace, D. P. (2010). Making Practice Public: Teacher Learning in the 21st Century. Journal of Teacher Education, 61(1-2), 77-88. Retrieved September 5, 2013, from http://jte.sagepub.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/content/61/1-2/77