ENGAGEMENT with the educational fraternity has its roots in RGS PeRL Consultancy which firmly believed in the professional development and empowerment of classroom teachers with innovative strategies to educate high ability girls to be leaders of tomorrow. It endeavoured to create a practitioner-oriented learning environment by offering a wide variety of professional development workshops that cater to teachers’ needs as adult learners. The workshops, which focused on evidence-backed pedagogies, facilitated job-embedded training to build and strengthen teachers’ capacity and professional competencies as 21st century teachers for future-ready learners. The theory-practice nexus was also strongly advocated through the provision of a 6-hour Practice Study, a post-workshop activity which promoted invaluable ground-level feedback and guided application of the theory to actual classroom practice. In 2020, RGS PeRL Consultancy ceased its services and was replaced by PEDTALKS.
In 2021, RGS PeRL witnessed the launch of a new initiative, PEDTALKS, a series of live chat conversations that harnesses the power of practitioner knowledge and experience to generate new insights and understandings into classroom practices.
PEDTALKS is grounded on Lev Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory of Cognitive Development (1934) which focuses on the important role played by social interaction in learning. Interacting with other people has proven to be quite effective in assisting the learner to organise their thoughts, reflect on their understanding, and find gaps in their reasoning. This is further propounded by Malcolm Knowles’ Andragogy or Adult Learning Theory (1968) which suggests that adults are task-oriented, life-focused and problem-centric in their approach to learning. At professional learning sessions, they bring a wealth of experience and practical knowledge that can serve as a valuable resource through the sharing of personal beliefs, practical challenges and success from their own classrooms. By expanding teacher conversations across schools, teachers can collaborate and learn from one another to enhance their professional growth and improve their instructional practice.
Each year, a pedagogical strand is identified and two PEDTalk sessions are organised based on the strand - one session features a sharing by an expert and another session features sharings by classroom practitioners. At the end of the two sessions, participants may choose to apply what they have learnt by participating in a small group Practice Circle where learning takes the form of application, collaboration and sharing of practical solutions. (See diagram below)
In this way, learning is sustained and enriched through the contextual and authentic nature of what is being applied in the classrooms.