I recently worked with some teachers looking at how ICT could be integrated into lessons and how they might support this process. During the course of the session I made the point that the approaches which work best are likely to be different for different teachers. I also raised the fact that the context within which they operate may also impact on which techniques and approaches work. An approach that might work in an inner city boys primary school may not work in a rural girls secondary school. As such teachers need to be searching for ideas, experimenting and generally being proactive in their approach. They cannot afford to wait for a professional development session to deliver all the answers.
This got me thinking about the theories and models which we use in education, as well as about some posts I have read recently. I previously blogged about how a few people had raised issues with De Bonos thinking hats (http://educationandtechnology.me/?p=93) . Now personally I like De Bonos thinking hats in terms of a teaching tool which, in certain situations, can be very useful, however equally I can see that in other situations it may be inappropriate. I can also see that for some teachers it may not suit their teaching style however this does not mean that the tool is lacking in value. Equally where De Bonos thinking hats is useful, I do not see this is adding to its value. It is a tool and its usefulness or lack thereof depends on the context within which it is used and the purpose for which it is used.
Thinking about this further, I considered Blooms taxonomy which generally I have found to be treated as fact. An earlier discussion with a colleague, who introduced me to the SOLO taxonomy (http://classteaching.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/using-solo-taxonomy-to-develop-student-thinking-learning/) , led me to question this. Both Blooms and SOLO are just 2 of a number of models or tools which we can use to help us in our teaching. They may be appropriate in certain circumstances and inappropriate in others.
So to my point: We as teachers need to be open to new ideas and to listen to others suggestions. It may be that we disregard these new ideas as inappropriate however we need to remember that this is based on our personal preferences and on the context within which we operate. The idea itself cannot be considered as appropriate or inappropriate when devoid of context. Equally we need to apply different models at different times rather than relying on a single “correct” model. Teaching is a complex task, so the more tools and ideas we have available to us, the more effective our teaching is likely to be. Personal Learning Networks are a key part of this.