“I like to think that teachers are taking a few more pedagogic risks, including trusting their students and (un)planning.” – David Rogers, UK

Originally posted on the Daily Edventures blog. 


David Rogers isn’t afraid to make waves; in fact, he claims he’s sometimes known as “troublemaker-at-large.” For him, meaningful change won’t happen any other way.
Rogers, who has attended both the UK and European Microsoft Partners in Learning Forums, has done things many teachers would consider unthinkable – like encouraging graffiti in the school and having his students determine their own social media policy. His creative approach, while it sometimes ruffles feathers, seems to be working.

Rogers is not only a Microsoft Innovative Teacher, he’s also a Jamie Oliver Dream Teacher and won Best Teacher Blog of 2011 in the Education Blog Awards. He attributes much of his success to a willingness to learn from others, something he does a great deal of through social media. Rogers’ blog, Twitter (both personal and school department) and Facebook presence keep him connected to what’s going in the world of education beyond his school.

Recently appointed to the role of Professional Tutor at Priory School, Rogers now has
the opportunity to apply his enthusiasm for teaching to developing other educators in the school. Here, Rogers shares with us his unconventional approach to teaching and innovation.

Can you describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education?

I am most proud of helping our young people create their own mobile device policy. The policy has unlocked their use in the classroom. This has involved working right across the school and with creative artists, and has been shared with a wide audience from trainee teachers at the University of Portsmouth to national conferences. I have always taken a different approach, using creative and innovative ideas and teaching methods that often generate great reactions. For example, I caused a storm by allowing young people to use chalk to graffiti what they did in their social time around the whole school. I am also proud of getting on to the Senior Leadership Team with a secondment (temporary job role change) for two years, which will allow me to work with new teachers in order to enhance their innovative spirits. I love the fact that my small department has two Microsoft Innovative Teachers who have attended the European Forums, and I’m hoping to encourage further success this year.

What has changed as a result of your efforts?

Other teachers and students have been challenged to think differently and they now see that small, highly effective ideas can have a huge impact. Also, I like to think that teachers are taking a few more pedagogic risks, including trusting their students and (un)planning.

How can others facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?

Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer, and it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission – challenge people’s thoughts and preconceptions by proving them wrong. Never forget what brought you into teaching, and stick to your principles.

How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?

I’ve used social networking extensively, starting off by exploring how people liked cheese on toast. :-)

What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education?

Constant change in the education system, especially in the curriculum. This causes negativity from other educators which can be difficult to work with.

What is your country doing right to support education?

At the moment, teachers are starting to support themselves through grassroots events such as TeachMeets.

What conditions must change in your country to better support education?

A moratorium on curriculum changes to allow teachers and learning to develop.

What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?

Simple ideas used effectively and talking to young people.

What advice would you give a new teacher (or to anyone wanting to make a difference in education)?

Always remember why you came into the profession and remember that most of the time, Gove (UK Education Secretary), Oftsed and the headteacher aren’t in your classroom, so don’t be afraid to take calculated pedagogical risks. Create networks using Twitter, Facebook and Partners in Learning; the more you talk to other teachers the more confident you’ll become. Never think that you’ve got nothing to contribute – I’m always learning things from trainee teachers and those new to the profession and I plan on always doing that.

What educational “trend” do you think is helping students? Is there a trend that is getting in the way of learning?

The trend toward exploring technology is helping. I think Geography (my subject) is a leading subject here – we bring the world to life.
I think that closed mindsets are getting in the way of learning as is poor accountability that isn’t focused on the learning process over long timescales. Focusing on lessons is not good learning.

If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?

A time machine and a copy of Mission:Explore. I’d love to go back to explore the geography of the past and future first-hand, and Mission:Explore encourages those people to get out there. By the way, the time machine can be imaginary – my tent works for me Smile 


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