Awash with resources

Make no mistake, I'm an advocate of life-long learning but I have a grave concern about something that affects all of us. If you listen carefully you may hear the sound of it. What is it? It’s the sound of resources thumping onto the doorsteps of schools up and down the country. Year after year, they stream out from the Ministry and arrive, often unheralded, at  our schools.

Over the past few years what have we had arrive? A new Curriculum, the National Standards, the Literacy Learning Progressions, revised e-asTTLe, the Writing Hub, Ka Hikitia, Tātaiako… the list goes on. New resources, many of great value, pop up on TKI every month, often more frequently. It's a challenge to keep up. We need the time to read, discuss and implement them but the reality is that teachers are often either overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of resources or simply fail to register them. The lack of assistance and time to digest them means that many just sit gathering dust. This is costly for everyone. As we know only too well, as teachers we are resource rich but time poor.
What are the consequences of this? Consider one example, how are we doing with the revised New Zealand Curriculum? How has it fared since its introduction in 2007? Is it well-embedded within the school system? Last year ERO reported  ( that while 20% of teachers were using the Teaching as Inquiry process very well, 37% were either using inquiry minimally or were not using it at all. Not a very encouraging finding. This is despite the fact that Teaching as Inquiry was clearly described in the Curriculum document.  In response to these findings what has the Ministry done - produced another resource! ( The New Zealand Curriculum Update, Issue 12, August 2011 from The New Zealand Gazette). Well intended but more of the same is not the answer.
So what is the answer? If we cannot slow down the pace with which resources arrive at the school gate perhaps we can take the bull by the horns and decide for ourselves on how, what and when we will take on new learning.  One school I know has adopted this approach. They have limited their professional learning (PD) to one area at a time and plan it to give teachers time to get up to speed (in this case, the revised e-asTTLe writing assessment tool). The first writing sample they took this term was just a practice for the staff (and the students, let’s not forget them) - no pressure to "get it right first time" but instead to focus on having a go and encouraging the sort of professional learning conversations that lead to deep learning. They won't be doing a school-wide sample until next term by which time staff (and students) will be ready. Hallelujah!

Jeremy Bloomfield

Accent Learning