The focus of our HOF Inquiry is curriculum development. If teachers develop a high-quality written curriculum, but fail to implement it then their work is the equivalent of motion masquerading as progress (Parker, 1991).
Curriculum development is much more than an inquiry, unpacking standards, or meeting once a week. If teachers spend their time focusing on the taught curriculum they will be able to greatly impact student achievement. “When school staff have a more informed conception of curriculum, a teacher’s daily decisions about how to deliver instruction not only affect student achievement in that classroom but also future student achievement, for it is assumed that students will be entering the next classroom prepared to handle a more sophisticated or more expansive level of work” (Zmuda, Kuklis & Kline, 2004, p. 122).
Our inquiry should be about answering questions. “If you want to make discoveries, if you want to disrupt the status quo, if you want to make progress and find new ways of thinking and doing, you need to ask questions” (John Maxwell, Good Leaders Ask Great Questions, 2014). Here some key questions for HOFs that I have come across.
- What are the key concepts we will address in this course?
- What are the key skills we will address in this course?
- What are the priority standards for this course? How will we ensure that these standards are emphasized throughout the year?
- If I had a daughter enrolled in this course, would I be satisfied?
- How will we implement the 4 Cs (Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity) in curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment(s)?
- Will we use LwDT to support teaching and learning? How? What are the goals?
- Are there opportunities for student-led lessons or is every lesson dictated by the curriculum and teacher-led?
- Are there multiple options for personalized learning throughout the course?
- Does the course incorporate student-led questions which deepen student understanding?
- How will we measure student understanding?
- Are we designing authentic tasks for students?
- What is the role of formative assessment in measuring the written, taught, and understood curricula?
- Do we have a plan for when students don’t learn?
- Does our learning space support student understanding of the key skills, concepts, and soft skills that our staff has identified as important?
- How often do we meet to discuss teaching and learning?
- Do we analyze career readiness indicators? What is my role in supporting college and career readiness?
- Do teachers have the opportunity to provide ongoing feedback regarding the school curriculum?
I have been thinking and reading about this this year in my class. There has been a great deal developed regarding this in our mentoring system in school. The following is a summary.
Consistent classroom discussion and modelling from mistakes.
This has concerned me for sometime. Students fear failure. They also fail to try because they make mistakes. I began this semester with a discussion about what growth mindset meant, and how we (our classroom) could use it. Each week, we talked about how “mistakes are when learning happens.” I want students that are hitting The Wall to know that failing isn’t the end and the not understanding a concept is merely the first step on the road to getting it. Creating a growth mind-set, involved lots of frank discussion about learning from mistakes.
Set-aside class time to review mistakes on assessments.
After our discussion, I returned their first assessment of the semester and told themn(my students) that they would have the next fifteen minutes dedicated to reviewing mistakes. I posted common errors that I saw on screen and wandered the room giving advice and help. We do this each week now and it gives students a dedicated time for reflection, a chance to access my help, and a non-stigmatized time to review errors. This is key, students will not naturally do this on their own, and I still need to prod some of mine.
Student visualization and ownership of growth.
As students wrapped up their self-assessments, I passed out a log that I had created for them to track their achievement on each of our classroom standards. They get three chances in class, and can then re-assess outside of class. Therefore, I gave them space to see how they were doing. I realized that students were not keeping track of how they were doing over time; I wanted them to see how much they had improved and have quick access to know that they needed to work on. I used to keep track of this, but found that when students have ownership of their scores, they are more apt to do something about the low ones.
I watched a clip this week by Clive Woodward. No matter what you think of him as a rugby coach he is a great leader. Indeed he is a champion.He had a number of themes:
Champions are made, not born. In his talk Woodward explains the process of making a champion. He talks about the England rugby team of 2003 and how his process of developing champions meant that we won the World Cup. According to Woodward there are four criteria which define champions: Ability; Teach-ability; Handling Pressure; Will to Succeed.
Woodward claims that we all have ability or talent, but talent is not enough. No matter how talented you might be, you have to put that aside and be completely open to being taught – if you do not have Teachability, then you’re stuck with talent, which is not enough. With Ability and Teachability, you then need to know how to think clearly under pressure, or T-CUP. He talks about his War-Room, which contained tables and chairs, a huge stop-clock on the wall, a scoreboard and a white board. When he was giving a tactics talk he would suddenly stop, set a time in an imaginary match on the stop-clock, identify opponents and a score on the scoreboard, describe a situation in the imaginary match – say, our scrum on our own twenty-two, with our number 8 in the sin-bin – and then ask any of the players to explain, using the whiteboard, exactly what they think we should do as a team in that precise situation. He calls it T-CUP: imagine the pressure on front row Phil Vickery in front of his unforgiving team mates if it’s him Woodward summons to the whiteboard. In his talk Woodward then shows the following basketball clip. It’s 88 points all, 0.6 seconds to go, the Yellow team have two free shots, the first shot goes in to put them 89-88 up: what should the player taking the second free shot do with the ball? The only other bit of information you need to know is that if the buzzer for the end of the game sounds and a shot is in mid-air, the game is not over until the ball has hit the ground and the shot is technically dead.
Reflection is a lost art in classrooms. With the push to cover more content and standards, teachers often make a choice between coverage or pausing for reflection. Reflection comes in many forms: reflective journals, group work, whole class, silent reflection, reviewing yesterday’s work, reflecting on an essential question, or creating a product that shows your thoughts on a previous lesson or understanding.
How often do students feel like the pace of schooling is rushed? Once a unit is finished, the teacher moves to the next unit. Reflection involves slowing down to share what we learned. In the absence of reflection, it is unlikely that a classroom is a Culture of Inquiry. How do students reflect and make meaning out of their experiences?
Learning takes place when inquiry is present. This year as Faculty’s met every Wednesday to develop lessons and assessments, analyze the amount of time students have to question, talk with their peers, and reflect. This inquiry is a step towards reflection. May it continue in 2017.
“Change is neither good nor bad. It simply is.” Don Draper
This week at our DP/AP meeting Greg Kirk from Goggles On presented on Leading Change. It got me thinking. Some of my thoughts were the following.
You can’t manage change. You try to anticipate it and then adapt to it. That’s the core competency that each of us needs to develop and continually strengthen. At a collective level, it makes an organization that much stronger to adapt to whitewater events which can capsize the unprepared.
Management guru John Kotter provides a very useful model for leading change efforts. His eight step process, which has been adopted by many organizations and leadership practitioners, encompasses the following steps:
1) Establishing a sense of urgency
2) Creating the guiding coalition
3) Developing a change vision
4) Communicating the vision for buy-in
5) Empowering broad-based action
6) Generating short-term wins
7) Never letting up
8) Incorporating changes into the culture
At the core of Kotter’s model is building change adaptability within an organization and learning how to focus the energy of employees towards a shared vision.
Change leadership evokes the critical importance of humbleness as a leader. You need to adapt. Ask the question why.
In November 1881 the Māori settlement of Parihaka in Taranaki was invaded by government troops. The aim was to end a campaign of civil disobedience that had been taking place since 1879 and which was in response to government confiscations of Māori land. This armed constabulary of over 1,500 arrested large numbers of people including leaders Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi.
Friday our staff spent a very special day there. One of the messages that emerged from theday was the importance of language. A better appreciation of te reo by Pakeha would go a long way to bridging the divide between the Maori perspective on life in New Zealand and the perspective from the rest of us. As Nelson Mandela said when asked about his conciliatory approach to the racist South African regime and why he’d bothered to learn Afrikaans:
“If you speak to a man you speak to his head, but if you speak his language you speak to his heart”.
I encourage you to check out the Talk Treaty site, and watch some of the videos there.
Many Maori understand the issues, but more Pakeha have to get schooled up to ensure our opinions are informed. After all, we are all Treaty signatories, we all have a right to live here and for our cultural values to be protected and nurtured.
Leading change in school is summed up by unleashing innovation but not upsetting people.
These are key parts to this:
Authentic relationships + Inquiry-based practice + Shared vision & values + Future focussed expectations + Trust in people and process + Collective responsibility for agreed norms = Freedom to Innovate
There’s an old adage, “People are down on what they’re not up on.” In the absence of information, people tend to be negative. Communication frequently becomes an afterthought when it should be at the core of any school improvement strategy. If you’ve connected stakeholders to the larger vision through meetings, communications, and input, they will believe it’s worth it. Remember to involve all stakeholders—educators at all levels, students, parents, business and community leaders, media, unions, partners, and others. Ask, “What do we need people to know, feel, and do?” Personalize messaging to each group to ensure relevance and understanding. Make your communications about issues and successes very concrete. Abstract messages get lost in the shuffle. And, carefully consider the timing and sequencing of your communications.
This clip got me thinking around this:
Building the plane while flying clip
“At the heart of innovation is a paradox.” Linda Hill
How do you know if you are driving the right way when you are traveling somewhere new? You use the road signs and a map (although nowadays it might be SIRI ). In the world of education, your objectives for your students act as road signs to your destination. Your plan is the map. Making a plan does not suggest a lack of creativity in your curriculum but rather, gives creativity a framework in which to flourish.
We can’t all be blessed with “epic” workdays all the time. Sometimes, life is just mundane and tedious. Teachers with a sense of purpose that are able to see the big picture can ride above the hard and boring days because their eye is on something further down the road. However by planning and making outcomes clear to our students we can clarify things for students and ourselves.
“Our students, who are empowered in so many ways outside their schools today, have no meaningful voice at all in their own education. Their parents’ voices, which up until now have been their proxies, are no longer any more closely aligned with students’ real education needs than their teachers’ voices are. In the 21st century, this lack of any voice on the part of the customer will soon be unacceptable. As we educators stick our heads up and get the lay of the 21st century land, we would be wise to remember this: If we don’t stop and listen to the kids we serve, value their opinions, and make major changes on the basis of the valid suggestions they offer, we will be left in the 21st century with school buildings to administer – but with students who are physically or mentally somewhere else.” (Marc Perensky, ASCD, 2006)
I remember being a teenager. It was a while ago now, but the maelstrom of growing up is still very immediate. In fact, I don’t think it really stops. It’s a myth that you emerge from your teens as a fully formed mature adult. I’m still learning, changing, developing every day, connecting new experiences and ideas with old ones to update and develop my own personal map of the world – and I stopped being a teenager in 1989. Take my last metaphor, for example – I robbed it from a TED talk I watched yesterday by John Green on Paper Towns and Why Learning Is Awesome, in which he likens learning to a cartographic enterprise. I liked it and I’ve already woven it into my own way of thinking about education