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My professional learning at Logan Park High School

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Paul Enright, head of social sciences at Logan Park High School, believes it is important to have things that shake you up and make you look at the bigger picture of teaching and learning. He tells us about being involved in the Teaching and Learning Research Initiative (TLRI) and how his participation has not given him all the answers, but provided him with better questions.


I like what I do and so I want to challenge and extend myself. I also want to find out more about it, you know, it’s like every now and then you’ll get (usually junior classes) that’ll say to you, ‘How can you do the same thing year after year?’ and I just keep on saying to them, ‘I’m a bit like you, I’ve got to keep doing it until I do it right.’ And there is an element of that in there and part of that has been, working towards that, is to look at all sorts of professional challenges.

It’s really important from time to time I think that you have something that shakes you up like the new curriculum and the things there that actually make you think about the world outside. For me, what’s been more challenging has been looking at the pedagogy of history and it’s also been a lot more revealing and so that’s led me into all sorts of things. I’ve been fortunate enough to get involved in a teaching research learning initiative task (or project) that’s actually looking at historical thinking. Which is really, you know sort of, really exciting and has given me all sorts of ideas for how I want to actually carry on and refine it. And so what we’ve been doing is working with students - getting students to unpack, if you like, their research process. That I find really exciting because of the potential it offers for actually having a better understanding for what it is that goes on in your classroom. It gives me perhaps that greater certainty about what I feel people should be looking at, how they should be developing as teachers, it doesn’t mean - I don’t think (or hope) it doesn’t mean that I present myself as having all the answers but I think what it does do is it gives me a better range of questions.

I’m very lucky I’ve got a department where people are actually quite comfortable with talking about pedagogy and are keen to be involved in it. My assistant HoD and I have both been involved in rewriting the standards. One of the other teachers in the department is our specialist classroom teacher and so also has an ongoing personal interest in what good teaching is and what good teaching looks like.

I think it’s really important, as I’ve found, to make connections with other people. Subject associations and those sorts of things I think are vital. Because you frequently find that there are people in the subject associations who have a similar interest and I think that’s what I’ve been quite fortunate about. That finding those people they reinforce, they point you in new directions, they give you new ideas, they challenge you when you’re talking rubbish which is always useful.

Published on: 12 Dec 2011