According to Greek legend, Narcissus, a hunter, considered himself so beautiful and worthy of attention that Nemesis, the spirit of retribution, made him stare into a pool of water. Instantly, upon seeing his reflection and under the spell of Nemesis, he was transfixed by his own image and was doomed to spend the rest of eternity staring into the water.
The idea of reflecting on oneself is, in many circles, something to be avoided lest one be considered self-obsessed, egotistical and self-serving. But I believe, as do others, that critical reflection on what we do and how we do it is necessary, not narcissistic, when the purpose is to grow as a professional or as a person.
To that end, the National Professional Standards for Teachers, now being implemented across Australia in all jurisdictions, indicate a need for teachers to be reflective, open and engaged in professional dialogue about their practice. This doesn’t just have to occur in formal contexts such as highly organised professional conferences or courses from higher education institutions, though these of course still have their place. Informal, less structured dialogue through blogs (like this), conversations and even the twittering dialogue on social media can inform teacher growth.
Similarly, a network (or movement?) that I have been involved with – TeachMeet Sydney – involves people trying to support each other in what we do. Therefore, we need to be reflective, open and engaged in dialogue about what we do and how we do it. Despite not being a legal or financial entity, TeachMeet Sydney and our partner networks around Australia are the embodiment of the passion, creativity, professionalism and dynamism that is the modern teaching fraternity.
As part of the reflection process, we have embarked on an action research project, funded by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL – @aitsl), to explore the reach and impact of the TeachMeet model in Sydney and beyond. We are meeting next week with our research liaisons who will support us through the two-month initial stage of action research and hope to work out exactly what outcomes TeachMeet Sydney is able to provide for those who participate.
By September, we will have conducted at least one survey and several interviews in order to establish an evidence base from which some analysis can occur. We hope that all those who have attended teachmeets in Sydney, Australia and even those who have participated overseas may be able to offer some thoughts and feedback that will help the research team prepare thoughts for future teachmeet hosts and participants.
Keep an eye out for tweets, FaceBook posts and other mentions of our TeachMeet Sydney project. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing what the network has done for those who have come along and/or hosted. Special thanks to AITSL for supporting a grassroots movement as part of the professional learning landscape of Australian teaching.
I expect my fellow project team members to tell me if I look too deeply in my own reflection.
TeachMeet Sydney http://tmsydney.wikispaces.com
TeachMeet Australia http://www.teachmeet.net
AITSL – http://www.aitsl.edu.au
The image above is by Rolfe Kolbe (@rolfek) and was taken at a big TeachMeet event in Sydney in March 2012.