Invested in innovation, and willing to re-imagine what’s possible for students, a teacher who trials new resources possesses all of these characteristics, and many more.
Teaching demands creativity and passion. Teachers are time-poor, yet constantly innovating, revising, and reviewing their approaches. It is no surprise that hundreds of teachers are eager to trial new pedagogies or resources when the opportunities arise.
When an education organisation engages teachers to trial resources before making them publicly available, it positions teachers as integral to the process, the history, and the future of innovative teaching practices.
For the past 15 years, Primary Connections, the Australian Academy of Science’s flagship primary science program has worked alongside teachers as they implement, suggest, and modify; this process ensures resource development is rich, collaborative, and student-centred.
Before a resource is released to the teaching community for trialling, there is a sense of possibility and potential among resource developers. Knowing that a resource is about to be brought to life by a group of educators who identify as reflective practitioners, and value the short time they have with their students, is exciting and full of anticipation.
Some might ask why bother to trial resources if they are already based on research? Wouldn’t it be more efficient to release the resources without trialling? Feedback received from teachers trialling resources is honest and demonstrates their commitment to the highest quality for their students. This is understandable especially when the resources claim to be aligned with current research and best practice. Working with teachers to co-construct learning experiences that will empower students to inquire deeply about a concept is worthy of the time and effort required.
In the Primary Connections resources there is a balance between personal and social constructivist emphases, and this duality is reflected in the teacher and learner roles. Teachers involved in the trialling of resources in development have an opportunity to consider how learning is manifested in the classroom and seek to understand the reasoning behind what has occurred (Skamp, 2012).
Opportunities for self-reflection come as a secondary motivation during trials, a bonus for the trial teacher. Reflective practice is more easily supported and encouraged since the advent of closed online groups such as Facebook and Edmodo; trial teachers have the opportunity to share their journey with each other and create collaborative community of passionate educators.
The story of the trial teacher is one of commitment, contribution, and innovation. When teachers are a fundamental part of the journey of resource and pedagogical development, it is an approach that values collaborative co-construction and has student best interests as the central purpose.
Primary Connections: Linking science with literacy is the Australian Academy of Science’s flagship primary school science program. It is an innovative approach to teaching and learning which aims to enhance primary school teachers’ confidence and competence for teaching science.