“Phenomenal” is the one-word description Regional Principal Paul Maher uses to describe his recent visit to Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts. He was part of a OneSchool delegation that went to the esteemed university in July to learn more from Project Zero’s Cultures of Thinking course.
Paul came away from the experience with a better understanding of the Culture of Thinking and what needs to be put in place to empower both students and teachers.
“There can be as much structure, infrastructure and facilities in place as we need,” says Paul, “but unless the teachers and students have the toolkit to make it all work, the physical environment is almost irrelevant.”
This kind of opportunity is something that can’t be taken for granted, and Paul said the trip backed up the philosophy of OneSchool’s teachers and regional principals. “Cultures of Thinking is a significant piece of the SDL puzzle,” says Paul. “It is a toolkit for staff and students to learn how to think, which will complement our school motto Learning to Learn. All keynote speakers also spoke of business and education becoming global, which resonated with our vision to become a truly global education system.”
All OneSchool participants came away knowing that it is important to create a classroom environment where both the teachers and students share a strong thinking culture as opposed to the traditional idea of a teacher/student relationship.
It also reinforced that OneSchool is on the right track when it comes to technology as it relates to online and blended learning. “The Harvard experience convinced us all that we are heading in the right direction by using video and web conferencing tools to offer the best teachers to the largest number of kids,” says Paul.
And what advice does Paul have for teachers that are lucky enough to get the opportunity for such a trip in the future? “It is vital that participants immerse themselves in all that the Project Zero Classroom course has to offer,” says Paul. “[They also need] to soak up the educational experience of the course participants.”
OneSchool believes that teacher development is a key ingredient to making the learning environment at its schools not only one of the best in Australia, but ahead of their contemporaries. This Harvard trip is just one example of OneSchool’s belief that investing in its teachers is just as important as the curriculum and students they teach.