Professional conversations: Adaptive expertise – Helen Timperley

Professional conversations: Adaptive expertise – Helen Timperley

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Increasingly, the literature is sort of distinguishing between routine expertise and adaptive expertise. Routine expertise is great
for stable environments, we can perfect our
skills and our knowledge, but unfortunately schools
aren’t like that anymore— students are changing, knowledge is changing. And so this idea of adaptive expertise is really gaining currency. Essentially it’s about having that moral imperative of students at the heart
of everything we do, and looking closely, “Are we optimising the outcomes for them in the ways that we need to?” And a key part of adaptive expertise is about taking agency
for making a difference. So it’s not that
your practice is no good or it can’t improve, but it’s about thinking about those students,
and “How can I really reach those most difficult-to-reach students and teach them better?” and then you can teach everyone better. And the third aspect of adaptive expertise that I really emphasise is this self-awareness that sometimes something you do may not be as effective as it could be, and that you’re constantly questioning whether this is the most effective way of doing something for those students. So it’s related to meta-cognition and self-regulated learning that, again, for students and for their teachers we know, is becoming more and more important. The professional conversation
is absolutely crucial to it. We learn socially, we learn from one another. So when I say they’ve got agency for making a difference for those students, it has to be a collective agency. And you can’t get a collective agency without having professional conversations. Conversations are like the oil
that kind of seeps through everything we do. So they’re informal, they’re formal, but they
are the way that we communicate and learn from one another, and they’re absolutely essential to developing adaptive expertise.

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