I have had and amazing experience of visiting schools around Europe over the past month. I have used this blog to share my journey and the different stories I have come across through my journey.
I had the absolute pleasure of visiting Sint Ursula Secondary School, an amazing school in the village of Horn in the Netherlands. This school is doing fantastic things with technology and I love their focus on technology as a tool to enhance which if echoed throughout their hallways and in every single classroom. There is so much for me to learn and it all begins with motivation.
My visit concreted my understanding of where learning begins. Rather than the process of learning simply beginning with an idea, something happens before that and that ‘thing’ is motivation. As I have shared previously in other posts, motivation is what makes someone want to learn something. A perfect example of that was the students in BK1 who learnt English because they had to… more about that in a later post though. It was such an amazing experience that it is worthy of its own post!
My day began with a tour of the school. Lead by Vivian, an Apple Distinguished Educator, this was no ordinary tour. We were diving in and out of classrooms and getting a holistic snapshot of the schools learning environments. Each step of the way I could not help but be drawn into the class to see what was happening (even though they were speaking Dutch and I could not understand a word).
Challenge problem and inquiry-based learning seemed to be the basis of this school’s practice. It was very effective and helped students to develop their love of learning. When speaking to the school executive this was a very important part of their recreation of the school.
During my discussion with the executive of St Ursula, we discussed the importance of professional development and ways to show staff their importance of PD, that they value them as professionals and are invested in helping them become the best teacher possible. The way they achieved this, was through developing an off-site two-day course where accommodation and meals were paid for. The course was then run by staff and outside companies. This all focused on the introduction of different learning styles and strategies (challenge based and inquiry based teaching). Teachers found this incredibly empowering and the executive noticed the rate of uptake of the new pedagogies was a lot higher due to the style of PD they implemented.