Road to Nowhere…

Well we know where we’re going
But we don’t know where we’ve been
And we know what we’re knowing
But we can’t say what we’ve seen
And we’re not little children
And we know what we want
And the future is certain
Give us time to work it out

Road to Nowhere by Talking Heads

David Byrne recalls in the liner notes of Once in a Lifetime: The Best of Talking Heads that Road to Nowhere was written with the purpose of creating “a song that presented a resigned, even joyful look at doom.” If you apply this to teaching, what would happen if we just kept teaching without reflecting, without questioning what we were doing and what we knew about teaching? Would we be on the road to nowhere? Could this be an appropriate anthem for non reflective teaching doom?

If we do not question where we’re going and what the world holds for us in it’s changing future, how can we prepare our students for their next steps? Although the lyrics say that the future is certain (in terms of our death) we live in a world were our future is quite the opposite. Our future is changing so rapidly where we cannot be sure of a single job for life, where the future of our communities is under threat from our actions with regards to water, energy, population growth and climate and we need our children and students to be prepared, adaptable and resilient in the face of this uncertainty.

This course has helped to refocus me on where I need to be in my practice and how I can make it more relevant for my students. Rather than being content with what I knew, I am more hungry for what I don’t know, what I can learn. During this course I have questioned things I had accepted as my norms and contrasting these against new ideas helped to create new viewpoints. Just being a part of this course was demonstrating commitment to ongoing professional learning and development of professional personal practice (criteria 4) of our practising teacher criteria.

But the real trick is to not let professional learning be a moment in time, we need it to take on a life of it’s own. We have hopefully breathed life into a reflective professional learning model by helping to promote and demonstrate examples in terms of this blog that is shared to all staff at Waimea College. We hope that this leadership will contribute to help promote effective teaching and learning and give examples of professional knowledge in practice (criteria 5). This has helped make professional development in our school more transparent, accessible and recorded so that it can be accessed in the future. Before valuable professional learning and knowledge were moments in time that were quickly lost or simply not shared across the school as a whole. Now we have a legacy of professional learning that can be shared within and beyond our school. As we start our COL journey I can see this as being a valuable tool in sharing knowledge. Osterman and Kottkamp (1993) point out that reflective practice is most successful when it is collaborative and I have enjoyed not only the sharing of ideas but the feedback from others through our blog, building it together with multiple authors has also been a rewarding process.  It is one thing to be reflective and have a viewpoint but to share this and build and refine these enters into powerful reflective conversations.

I look forward to taking these ideas from the Mindlab and applying them to a new junior course that I am teaching. It has never been offered before and there is a blank check to create it however we want and assess it in whatever manner we see fit…. I look forward to blogging about it soon.

Perhaps the first two lines of Road to Nowhere could be reinterpreted as,

“We could picture where we’re going, by reflecting on where we’ve been”

Week 32 Changes in Practice – Mindlab

Osterman, K. & Kottkamp, R.(1993). Reflective Practice for Educators.California.Cornwin Press, Inc. Retrieved on 7th May, 2015 from

Ministry of Education (nd). Practising teacher Criteria and e-learning . Retrieved from

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