A Learner's Journey

Reflections on Learning through the REL Network

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At the planning day for our next zone meeting in Term 4, we were asked to reflect on our learning over the past two years. Although I have only joined the planning team this year, I have been part of the network for almost three years so I reflected on the changes in my thinking, knowledge and understanding during that period. Returning to teaching after a 10 year break at home with our children, the learning curve was always going to be steep, but taking on the role of REL accentuated the angle! To reflect, we used the notion of ‘before’ and ‘now’…
Before I believed I may have been working in isolation as the RE Leader. Always well supported by the leadership team, I probably didn’t see how connected each of the spheres are, particularly in terms of planning professional learning opportunities for the staff. Now I know that we are all able to work closely together to support learning across all spheres. Being part of the AGQTP and CTLM projects has had huge benefits for our whole staff but also for our leaders. Having a shared understanding of good practice that crosses all curriculum areas has lead to more connectedness in our PLT’s and in our learning.
Before, I gave lip service to the notion of being a life long learner but now I know with every fibre of my being that I am and that I LOVE learning. This has been sparked by attending Uni over the past two years studying for my Masters, and enjoying the many challenges this has created for me. I have genuinely enjoyed the conversation with colleagues at lectures, bouncing ideas off one another and challenging what we are presented with. I am also loving the opportunities for innovation and creativity that technology is affording me in my classroom and reveling in the enthusiasm of the students to express their learning in such a rich diversity of ways. My twitter journey over the last few months has also been enlightening and exciting. I have connected with some fantastic and truly passionate educators and shared professional learning anytime, anyplace. My eyes have been opened to many possibilities.
Before I wondered how to make the shift to Inquiry learning in RE. It seemed like a huge task to lead staff towards planning our own, inquiry-based units rather than relying on Coming to Know, Worship and Love. With the enthusiastic support of the RESA from the Outer East Zone and participation in AGQTP, I began to see how the process might work and trailed it with the support of the AGQTP team at school. Now I wonder how we can keep the momentum up for planning this way? How do we avoid the trap of pulling out last year’s unit rather than using this cohort of students and their needs, questions and interests to drive the concept based unit?
What has enabled these shifts in understanding over the past three years? Attending Uni, some great Professional Learning, being a part of the REL Network and more recently the planning team, and the support of the Leadership Team at school. Most significant though is the support of my Principal, Peter. The trust he has placed in me and his willingness to discuss ideas and support me in implementing them has allowed me to take some risks, challenging myself and the staff in the way that we work, not only in Religious Education but across all spheres.
Here’s to learning!

4 Comments

  1. Mary,

    Really enjoyed reading your refelection; your learning curve has been massive but you have made every post a winner as can be seen within your comments.
    Thank you for your comments regarding me, what you have to understand is that I thoroughly enjoy working with you, love our conversations re church, religion, school and the “whole damn thing”.
    Long may it last.

  2. Agreed Peter – long may it last! However, when I speak to other REL’s, I am aware of how fortunate I am to be in a school where my position is respected as a valued part of the leadership team. This is not the case for everyone and I think this has huge implications for the kind of things you are able to do as a leader, if you are not well supported and trusted to do your job.
    Thanks for your feedback!

  3. Thanks for that long speel Mary…and that is a compliment. Although I have been, and still am a little slow at picking things up in the technology field, it has beena privilege to hop on board the blog bus and enjoy the ride. I have learnt so much from Mary and the children in my class. Thanks for your patience and I too relish the satisfaction of watching the children learn and also time permitting, my learning has grown too. Krystyna

  4. Thanks for the compliment Krystyna. Thanks to you also for jumping aboard the crazy bus that my mind can be at times. I know you get dragged along in my excitement and it is great to have your support. It is through the support of my peers, and particularly you that I have the space and opportunity to learn, grow and experiment.
    Mary

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