As many of you have gathered present I am on secondment and have had the privilege to visit and work with many schools while on this. In doing so I have made a list of ways schools can be made stronger by starting with strengths rather than weakness.
Reflect on our assessment practices
In our assessments, do we build on what students CAN do or do we focus more on what they cannot do? Do our assessment practices build confidence or strip it away?
It Takes a Village
Do we embrace this relationship or do we shut it out? If we shift our focus from being classroom teachers or subject teachers to school teachers, can we better tap into the strengths of other adults in our building? Students need at least 2-3 strong, positive relationships with adults in the building. These strong relationships often come with the knowledge of a student’s strengths… embrace these.
First contact about the strengths.
I reflect how often in my roles have I made tough phone calls to parents only to realize this is the first time I have made contact? I am now very conscious to make that first contact a positive one. It doesn’t have to be about something the student has done but more about sharing that we value him/her and we know who they are.
Celebrate the Strengths and Share it.
Celebrate when anyone and everyone has success. Share those stories with the community.
What are strengths of staff and the school community?
Are we embracing the strengths of the adults in our school community? Do we tap into the strengths of parents and families in the school community? The answer to the problem often sits in your own backyard. Hey lets get out there and do it. At least for the sake of the students who should be at the centre.
This week I have been preparing work for the Catholic Convention next month. I have been thinking a great deal about schools in this century. The following take on 21st century learning is notable because of the absence of technology. This is ironic as my presentation is about Technology in Catholic schools.
In my mind in these characteristic there is very little about iPads, social media laptops, or any other app. In my mind it should be all about good pedagogy complemented by good tools.
Or to be more specific student centred. We as schools should be a learning network.
All students should have a personalised learning plan picking from the best achievement standards to create a Vocational Pathway.
The school should be driven by goals that are support by data. A good hunch will be backed up by goals.
- Values Driven
At the heart of the school should be the values that drive it.
- Diverse and Inclusive
This is giving learners a wide range of learning experiences that includes all students.
What do you think?
The best education systems understand that school culture matters more than teacher quality. This is something that come up in all meetings be they online or not.
No school or school system has ever become great without great teachers, but what can an excellent teacher do about a child who needs glasses, has cavities or is hungry? To say that teacher or school quality is the most important variable in education is at best naive.
Ultimately, great teachers make great schools, but great teachers can’t do it alone – they require the support of an equitable society. They need the support of parents and school leaders. If we are not careful, we risk misinterpreting the scores, and instead of waging war on poverty and inequity, we end up waging war on teachers and schools. I must remember that as I approach parent teacher night next week as a parent. Perhaps that a topic for next time. Teacher as Parents.