Conference Topics

Building on the results of the first conference on this topic, Educating the Educators II will serve as a lever and platform for international exchange about concepts and experiences. The aim is to present and discuss different approaches which ensure a high quality of the education of educators:

  • Personal dimension: Which roles, contents and activities have to be considered in the PD for facilitators (in professional learning communities and in the multiplier concept)?
  • Material dimension: Which role can materials play in professional development for math and science teachers (classroom materials, face-to-face PD materials and e-learning PD materials)?
  • Structural dimension: How to establish adequate systemic project designs for scaling up and their evaluation (like e.g. in mascil or other professionalisation projects)?

Topic 1: Personal dimension of educating facilitators: Roles, content and activities

This topic will address two models of face-to-face professional development courses that are used to reach a large number of teachers with innovative approaches, such as inquiry-based learning, or deal with heterogeneity. In the pyramid model, engaged teachers or researchers are qualified to become facilitators, who then go on to support other teachers in PD courses. In the second model, teachers themselves organise professional learning communities in which one teacher takes the role of a facilitator. This topic examines both models and aims to – amongst others – draw links between them.

The pyramid model and learning communities have proven efficiency and effectiveness within various contexts and projects. However, educating multipliers poses considerable challenges inherent to the specific requirements of the multipliers’ dual role. Multipliers act as experts in some subject-related content, and at the same time, as professionals in adult education. Therefore, qualifying multipliers has to cover both of these requirements. A consideration with learning communities is that these often lack external input.

The topic focuses on key questions, such as (examples):

  • What are the differences between multipliers and facilitators? Can we consider both ways of providing PD as two opposing ends of a large variety of professional development courses? How can we combine the two approaches?
  • What are the features of successful concepts for educating multipliers? Which pitfalls have to be avoided?
  • How can we address and handle cultural factors, such as national specifics in how teachers cooperate at school – or not, or common classroom culture?
  • What are the needs and experiences of the different target groups: Educators of teacher educators, teacher educators themselves, facilitators of learning communities and teachers in their everyday classroom practice?
  • What are the pre-conditions for setting up self-sustaininglearning communities? How can we ensure sustainability?
  • What are the requirements for learning community facilitators? How can teachers be educated and prepared to take on the role of learning community facilitators in their schools?
  • Can such support be a means of providing learning communities with needed external inputs?

Topic 2: Material dimension of educating teachers and facilitators: The role of classroom and PD materials and tasks

Carefully designed classroom tasks and materials can be powerful tools for enhancing the quality of maths and science teaching, influencing the classroom culture and fostering students’ learning. In the process of developing a task culture and implementing good material in classrooms, a spiral model of professional development has proven to be efficient and effective within various projects (e.g. EU projects LEMA, COMPASS, PRIMAS or the German DZLM project PIKAS). In the spiral model, teachers actively experience the innovative approaches in continuing cycles of analysis – implementation – reflection. After gaining some experience, professional learning communities are able to develop their own tasks. This process ensures shared ownership of tasks, and thereby facilitates their use.

Furthermore, PD in the spiral model requires appropriate materials designed for a learning community’s facilitator or multiplier to use with their work with teachers. These PD materials can also be realised in the form of e-learning materials, as innovative technologies enable new approaches and powerful possibilities for collaborative, learner-centred and research-oriented learning with flexible access. Materials for blended learning need to be a combination of those used in face-to-face learning and in e-learning.

Proposals of paper, poster or materials presentations within the scope of this topic will address some of the following questions (examples):

  • What are the quality criteria for the design of materials for classrooms and/or PD? What are the features of materials for classroom and/or PD that are suitable for promoting IBL and/or more closely connect science and mathematics learning to the world of work?
  • How can the design of materials meet the affordances out of education systems and policy context? How can constraints for the flexible design of materials be overcome?
  • Which factors promote or impede the implementation of innovative materials in practice?
  • How can self-explanatory materials be designed that have large potential for scaling-up?
  • Which features do excellent e-learning materials have? How can existing PD materials be modified and adapted for use in an e-learning environment?
  • How can e-learning support be tailored to the needs of the target groups? What do suitable tools for self-assessment, monitoring teachers’ success or evaluation of users’ experience with the e-learning environment look like?
  • How can engagement and sustainability in virtual learning communities be ensured? Can a virtual learning community be as effective as one that meets in the same physical space?
  • What are the needs and experiences of the different target groups: Teacher educators, facilitators/instructors of e-learning forums and/or virtual meetings and teachers using e-learning support?
  • How can we successfully combine face-to-face learning with e-learning?

Topic 3: Structural dimension – Systemic project designs for scaling-up and their evaluation

When aiming at improving STEM education and large-scale teacher professional development, different project architectures are possible. This topic will focus on the specific design of projects and initiatives that aim at scaling-up the implementation of innovative, research-based approaches to mathematics education (e.g. also nationwide centres, such as the DZLM in Germany) and will take into account their contextual framing (such as curriculum, assessment, relation between policy and professional development, school context).

For example, we can educate facilitators who in turn carry out professional development courses on a large scale. One can either ask individual teachers for participation or only whole schools. The materials for these courses can be provided either centrally or by the individual facilitator. Another possibility for supporting professional development is to involve teachers in small, action research projects. Other projects work with regional and national centres that have the responsibility of supporting innovation in their region.

In any case, these initiatives must provide both scaled-up professional development activities and sustainable structures for supporting cooperation between different stakeholders, while also taking contextual factors into account.

Proposals of papers or posters in this topic will address some of the following questions (examples):

  • What can a design of an initiative aiming at a widespread implementation of innovative teaching and for scaling up professional development look like?
  • Which structures prove to be effective in which cultural context? Which do not?
  • What challenges remain to be overcome even if such initiatives gain traction?
  • What adaptations need to be made for PD approaches when implementing them in different project designs?
  • What adaptations need to be made for project designs when implementing them in different countries with their different institutional and cultural contexts?
  • How can we investigate empirically the impact of different project designs?
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This project mascil has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme under grant agreement n°320693