Welcome to my Professional Learning blog.
My name is Matt Nicoll and I am a high school teacher in New Zealand, interested in improving the classroom experience for my students. I am open to trialing new approaches and hope to use this blog to reflect on my ideas and practices.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Sharing "Best Practice"

I work with some inspirational, innovative teachers. Just about every time I have/make the occasion to have a professional chat with one (or more) of them, they share a great idea or practice. It may not suit the way I do things (or want to) but, wow, there are some gems! I also know that I am not in a unique position - every school has its fair share of these people.

Sadly, I also know that I am not in a unique position when I reflect that so much of this inspirational and innovative teaching is rarely shared within my school. There are a few things which we already do, but it just doesn't feel like it is working.


We have Professional Learning Groups in which we have individual inquiries based around a central learning area, such as SOLO, Moodle, and effective use of data. Leaders (who are also "experts") support the group members with their inquiries and offer some professional development. These meetings help us share, but only with a select group and only ideas which relate to our particular inquiry/learning area. I love this model and it does help share ideas, but I was blissfully unaware of some amazing work two colleagues in the same department (but in a different PLG) were doing; ideas which really resonate with me. Frustrating!

Department Meetings

Sadly, the hectic nature of the job limits the number of these per year for us. However, my excellent Head of Department usually makes time once a term for us to feed back some of the great things from our PLGs, and anything he notices when he circulates the department while we are teaching.

Staff Meetings

In our last Staff Meeting, representatives from each PLG shared some of the key findings from the members of their respective group. This was really worthwhile. I didn't see an application in my teaching for everything that was presented, but I could see the value in every initiative, and had such high respect for my colleagues "giving it a go".


For me, Twitter is a great place for me to find ideas from inspiring people, and to get my ideas critiqued. I have built up a very supportive PLN via Twitter (and the VPLD). I actually resorted to using Twitter to see if any of my PLN might have some ideas I could write about.

The sentiment which motivated this tweet came straight back to me - I am not alone!!

I got some very good ideas in no time at all. I particularly like the idea of a "walk-through", but know some teachers do not like other teachers in their room even if they know their teaching is not being critiqued, but being used as inspiration. I also like the "coffee club" idea and actually do something like this with some Primary School teachers to pick their brains for great ideas.

Thank you so much to those of you who shared your ideas and thoughts with me tonight. A few brief grizzles and very few solutions have turned into a blog post that actually has some value now!