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MLP or just Effective Pedagogy

Started by Neill O'Reilly 09 Sep 2015 4:56pm () Replies (64)

I am keen to find out if anyone can define MLP and if we can't, perhaps ditch the term and just talk about effective pedagogy?

Can anyone give us a succinct definition of what Modern Learning Practice / Modern Learning Pedagogies are?

Can't be about technology- not that modern (they were part of the rationale for the move to open plan units in the 1960's)

Can't be about student centred learning... being around for ever!

Can't be about having a shared vision, values and beliefs...they are not pedagogies or practices

Is it about preparing children for their future- I think thats just part of our day to day job (effective pedagogy?)

If it is about pedagogies I am wondering if there are some new modern pedagogies I am missing?

Perhaps it is about Collaborative teaching? If so lets call it that. But that seems confusing because you can go on a course to do MLP in a traditional classroom?

Be cool if it was about culturally inclusive practice (that's quite modern) but I don't think it is?

I suppose my concern is;  Have we created a new acronym for something when perhaps there is no need and it just adds to the confusion of MLE, ILE, ILS, FLS...MLP? Perhaps more importantly teachers are been led to think there is a new pedagogy or a 'modern learning practice' that is required to teach in a flexible learning space as opposed to a classroom

Really keen for some feedback....



  • Paul Wilkinson (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2015 7:51am ()

    Hi all.

    I agree that MLP is not a particularly helpful term for defining what we are talking about but I wonder whether just talking about effective pedagogy will allow some level of dismissiveness ( is that a word?) of the effective implementation of a flexible learning programme that includes more than one teacher being directly responsible for overseeing the learning of 40, 50, 60ish children. 

    Ubiquitous use of technology was only more difficult pre 21C because of cost and technological capacity of things like wireless networks and connectivity speed. Anytime, anyplace learning was (and continues to be) only difficult because of supervision requirements. Not so easy for schools to allow children to go off unsupervised to learn in different places. Technology does go someway to facilitating this as an increased possibility though. 

    I think Bernice has identified the key elements from a student perspective. Self regulation and individualised programme (with increased student choice) are the challenge for teachers to design learning programmes around. Really the tricky bit in all this from a teacher perspective is how is the timetable organised and what learning activities will students be required to do? The first part of that is a structural or systems question and the second is pedagogy. 

    Collaborative or team teaching is a significant part of what is different. Team teaching has been around for quite a while now and there are numerous examples around the country of schools successfully operating teams of two teachers sharing the collective responsibility for a two class group of learners. The challenge that many of us are facing is what does that look like at the practical level of classroom timetable, physical organisation of spaces and student learning activities when the spaces have to house three or four or ten adults and 80, 90, 100, 200 etc children. There are starting to be examples of this being done well though. 

    I am not sure that I agree with you Neill that ubiquitous technology and anytime, anywhere learning can happen better in a traditional one teacher classroom. I think what both ubiquitous technology and more adults available for learning support does is increases the possibility for individualised learning support. Please don't misinterpret this though. I am not talking about children learning in isolation with the perfect ideal being 1:1 child to teacher interaction. I believe strongly in co-construction of learning. What we have now is the challenge for teachers of sharing the responsibility for a larger group of learners than just "my class" and of sharing a space and a timetable when I can't just decide on my own but I have to communicate and collaborate. 

    What three letter abbreviation to give all this I have no idea. What about ECT.. Effective Collaborative Teaching. Or the other definition if you prefer... 


  • Paul Wilkinson (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2015 12:39pm ()

    What people take to be MLP is surly about unlocking the creative, collegial and intellectual benefits of teacher collaboration and collaborative teaching?

    You have it there I think...

    and with the following...

    every thing in the NZC (the principles, KC's effective pedagogy, values, teacher as inquiry etc) and then put it on steroids through collaboration.


  • Paul Wilkinson (View all users posts) 10 Sep 2015 6:49pm ()

    So now what I am wondering is...  if you were writing a "how to book of effective collaborative teaching" what would the chapter headings be? 

    Here is my humble offering...

    Forming mutually agreed expectations (things that will annoy you and how to resolve them)

    Who is teaching who and when (timetabling options)

    Reflection for deeper learning (ideas for establishing habits of reflection that genuinely change future learning)

    Metacognition in practice ( teaching children how to be learners)

    Ideas for creatively organising the spaces (campfire, caves and furniture etc)

    The question as key technology (unpacking inquiry learning)

    What does agency look like and how to enable it. (How to say yes to children)

    101 ideas for connecting learners with real life experiences (deeper learning rather than coverage)

    Integrated curriculum (what if I didn't teach maths this week?)

    Who are the people in my neighbourhood? (How to find people who can help)


    There we go... That is just to prompt discussion. What have I got wrong? What have I missed out?






  • Paul Wilkinson (View all users posts) 11 Sep 2015 6:33am ()

    The hyperlink doesn't seem to work for this Neill. Are you sure you set it up correctly? Or is someone else in charge of this site? Are you sure it doesn't have .minedu.govt.nz on the end of it? Or perhaps nkwigo.govt.nz

  • Paul Wilkinson (View all users posts) 13 Sep 2015 1:05pm ()

    Hi Tony.

    Seeing as we seem to be drilling in to definitions and acronyms I will pick up on your distinction betwen flexible and purposefully designed. I like both of these actually. I would be happy to continue to talk about flexible learning spaces when the conversation is about the building. There are a number of factors that make a space flexible. Space is probably the key factor though. It is harder to be flexible with space in a room that barely has room for the bodies it contains. Audio visual flexibility might come in here too as might indoor outdoor flow. 

    Much more important though is the term you have identified... Purposefully designed environments. Neill has already talked about this distinction between space and enironment in an earlier post and I think he is right on to it. Teachers are the ones who create the learning environment. Everything they bring to the classroom (physically like furniture, IT equipment and resources, systems like timetabling and classroom managment, culture and relationships, learning activities.... ) all contribute to building the environment. We can either start to purposefully design these things to promote learning or we can continue with TTWWADI. I am really excited about the future of learning in NZ because the new spaces we are having built will not allow teachers to retreat to their comfort zone single cell. The 1970's open plan blocks still had the ability to shut the doors. These MLE/ILE/ILS/etc do not. 

    Exciting times

  • Paul Wilkinson (View all users posts) 13 Sep 2015 4:27pm ()

    Not sure about the .png links they don't seem to be showing up for me. But your description is good so I can picture the graphic you are talking about.

    the essence of a teacher's professionalism is their "right" to teach how they like. 

    Can you unpack this sentence for me a bit more? I'm not sure that I agree that there is a right to teach how I like.

    I agree with you that questioning autonomy is a good thing.

    Perhaps it is this that is one of the greatest fears of teachers being forced to collaborate. Is it that someone else might question the fact that I spend a lot of time doing P.E. and not much time doing maths?  Or am I worried that my planning and assessment might be shown up to be lacking in quality? Or will I have to share my precious resources that I have built up a life time of collecting? Or what if the children like the other teachers more than me?

    I see myself a little in some of these fears but (speaking from about five year co-teaching experience) I have to say co-teaching is the best professional development I could have had. And yes it does challenge all of those fears.

    I know that simplifying things too far can lead to misunderstanding but sometimes it helps to hone in on the key points. Sooo... in the interests of generating discussion I wonder what people would include in a list of single words that get to the heart of the matter.





    I am sure there are more...


  • Paul Wilkinson (View all users posts) 04 Oct 2015 4:53pm ()

    Thanks Derek and Neill for continuing to unpack this thread. Personally I find the discussion really helpful for shaping my thinking.


    I think it important to acknowledge that another key driver here is not simply about collaboration (which is itself but a manifestation of the deeper change) - but about the 'de-privatisation' of the teaching profession - because it isn't about the individual teacher and her/his class, but about the group/team of teachers and their collective responsibility for the cohort of individual learners they have responsibility for. 


    I agree that 'de-privatisation' is a key factor. It would make an interesting study to ask a group of teachers to unpack what this means for them before they began a co-teaching experience and again after a year at it. I wonder what would have changed for them? That interest is the sociologist in me coming out.

    The pragmatist in me says....

    I am glad that the idea of "practice" keeps coming back to the surface. I am just going to pick up on your last paragraph Neill and highlight the bits for me that need unpacking or translating into "how to" practical examples of teacher actions that make a difference.

    I would suggest a paradigm shift is required if teachers hope to implement effective pedagogies in a collaborative teaching and learning environment. This will necessarily lead to some new practices as collaborative teaching in a deprivatised, shared environment is immensely complex, I think I am starting to get a handle on just how complex it is. So I would still argue that if teachers understand effective pedagogy as described in NZC then when moving to collaborative teaching their main focus will be understanding how to maximise the opportunities provided through a collaborative teaching and learning environment be it retro fit, traditional spaces or purpose built flexible learning spaces (MLE, ILE, FLS?).


    What paradigm shift?

    What effective pedagogies?

    What new practices?

    What do I have to practically do to maximise the opportunities?

    What does all that look like on Monday morning in my classroom?

    I guess this is what I was alluding to with the earlier call for a "How to Book of Collaborative Teaching". Vicki suggests a wiki and perhaps that is a good idea. It might at least allow the opportunity for a toolkit for collaborative teaching to be developed. Neill you might just want this book to be called the "How to book of effective teaching", as per your original posting in this thread. I think for me the current challenge around MLP, MLE etc is mostly about about collaborative teaching and learner agency and connection.

    And then the pessimist in me says...

    How do we make sure that we don't end up with a classroom that looks like a camel? (As in... "a camel is a horse designed by a committee)

    or this...



  • Paul Wilkinson (View all users posts) 08 Oct 2015 6:13am ()

    Three great questions Neill.  If you added something like ... How will we demonstrate student progress? I think you have the essential questions that schools need to be able to articulate answers to. Combine those answers with the NZC and you have the theory sorted. Just get on with doing a really great job of creating an environment that matches the vision. Hah! Easy really. 

    Last night  I watched the documentary "Most likely to succeed". It is an expose on an American high school (High Tech High). Matching that documentary with the four questions you could clearly see they had thought through and were able to articulate what pedagogy, being student centred, collaboration (both student and teacher) and reporting on progress looked like. Well worth watching if you get the opportunity some time. If you don't the thirty second summary is ...

    teams of two teachers (may have been other groupings but the movie focussed on one particular pair of teachers)

    mixed disciplines

    no bells, extended learning times

    students left to figure stuff out on their own and to fail at stuff (supported through reflection rather than teacher solutions)

    project based learning

    termly showcase of learning as main reporting and accountability tool

    teachers have total curriculum freedom

    There is a brilliant segment showing one boy who did not succeed in having his segment of the collaborative project completed by the showcase night. They filmed him over the next four or five weeks (into the summer holiday break) working to complete his piece of the project so that it could be added to the whole class model (it was an unbelievably complex laser cut, gears and pulleys connected representation of the rise and fall of civilisations). 

    What stood out for me was at one point they filmed the teacher standing outside the room looking through a window into where this boy was on his own (in the holidays by now) laser cutting pieces. The teacher was saying words to the effect... "It is quite hard standing here watching him fail over and over, I just want to go in there and fix it up for him". 





  • Paul Wilkinson (View all users posts) 08 Oct 2015 6:37am ()

    Thanks Neill. 

    I love the tidal flow of synthesis and expansion of these ideas. 

    You are quite right. Questions 2,3 and 4 are really the same question. So if we can grapple with the "why is this  a good idea? of collaborative teaching (your use of the word deprivatised is a key starting point I think) and the practicalities of who does what when we will have both theory and practice sorted. The challenge then is to ensure that our espoused theory matches our lived experience (assuming the theory is educationally sound of course).

    Great discussion


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