Subject Learning Communities in East Lothian

I’m writing this post from Queen Margaret University following an exceptionally positive Subject Learning Community meeting with East Lothian Home Economics teachers.   Fearghal Kelly gives a much more comprehensive description of what constitutes a Subject Learning Community than I could ever manage, so I won’t try to describe them in detail, but I have stolen his first paragraph and copied it here:

Although Curriculum for Excellence requires us as secondary teachers to make greater efforts to offer our students more interdisciplinary experiences and to place a greater emphasis on the development of their skills, there will still always be a role for subject specialists in the secondary school. It is important to remember that the changes under CfE should be a shift. A correction in balance. A movement towards. It should not be a pendulum swing. We need to find the right balance between subject content knowledge and interdisciplinary learning & skill development, not jump from one extreme to the other.

In the above extract Fearghal captures superbly our commitment to, and recognition of, the importance of subject specialists to the successful implementation of a Curriculum for Excellence. 

To that end we have been holding a series of evening seminars at QMU to meet with subject specialists to share our ideas for a Subject Learning Community and to ascertain if any teachers would like to be trained as facilitators.  We reckon that by the time we’ve finished our last twilight session that over 25% of secondary teachers will have met with us and discussed the concept and shared their own ideas for possible areas of focus – which is a remarkable testimony to the professionalism of our teachers.

The content and programme of seminars and materials are available here.

Fearghal has established a Blog for these groups and it’s interesting to reflect on the issues they identify at their separate meetings – with primary secondary transition being a very common theme.

I have to say that these events are amongst my most eagerly awaited times of the week.

4 thoughts on “Subject Learning Communities in East Lothian

  1. I recommend a read of Arsene Wenger’s brilliant “Digital Habitats” publication (Stewarding technology for communities). See also http://technologyforcommunities.com/ for key success factors on how to sustain on-line communities.

    But puzzled as to why these groups are not within Glow? At the very least that would prevent the usual firewall antics of teachers trying to access forums etc?

  2. Thanks Walt,

    I’ll check those recommendations out.

    Glow is there for a tool for the communities should they choose to use it, as is EduBuzz. There are pros and cons to every system, and the reality is that I think most communities will have a mixed approach including face to face meetings, private glow discussions and public sharing via EduBuzz.

    I believe the teachers must decide what is the best way of working for themselves.

  3. Good point Fearghal – having conversations ‘out in the open’ will also help to draw others in (beyond the confines of GLOW).

    BTW My earlier reference should be to Etienne Wenger, not the Arsenal manager!

  4. Walt, I think Etienne would enjoy a laugh about the “other Wenger.” I’m really happy to read you found our book, “Digital Habitats” useful. You made my day.

    Nancy White

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