Capturing Learning – A Conversation with Kevin Bartlett and David Willows

The power of showing people what learning “looks like” is pretty clear. Seeing learning happen has a profound effect on teachers and, when combined with effective story-telling, can take people’s understanding of the seemingly complex processes involved in learning to a deeper level. It can certainly make the complex more simple, the implicit more explicit. Demystification can only be a benefit to all the parties involved in the education of young people.

Most schools rely on teachers to capture learning using either video or still photography and then to create media and share it. This is unrealistic for all but the most tech-savvy teachers who can make this happen on top of their other day-to-day jobs.

Other schools employ someone to do this and, while this person may be technically brilliant, they may struggle to capture learning as they are not really sure what they are looking for. Let’s face it, teaching is a talent. Talented teachers are expert “kidwatchers” who can see when and what their students are learning and can act accordingly.

If a school is really serious about capturing learning and using what they create for a number of purposes, both educational and promotional, it is talented teachers who must hold the camera. It is talented teachers who will be able to see the nuances that are involved. It is talented teachers who are able to walk into a learning space and go relatively unnoticed. It is talented teachers who can create the mutually respectful relationships necessary to be “interlopers” into other teachers’ professional domains.

So, how do you make this happen? Well, this is when you need genuine leaders in schools. Leaders who know that their job, just like a teacher’s, is to get the best out of the people they work with. Leaders who understand that people need time and space to do things well. Leaders who are interested in, and committed to, learning. Leaders who are willing to take chances, be creative with roles and who have a “let’s give it a try” attitude.

Kevin, David and I considered the possibility of leaders offering teachers a “capturing learning” role. This could be a permanent position, it could be for a couple of years, it could be a fully paid sabbatical. It could be in addition to or instead of their existing roles, or a mixture of the two. No matter what the configuration, we all agreed it would be worth a try. I wouldn’t say no to it myself!!!

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