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.
“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.
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
Prof Fullan defines character as six elements. As you read them think about how they can be made more explicit to your learners, so that they become a language shared between teachers and students.
- Character education: building resilience, empathy, confidence and wellbeing.
- Citizenship: referencing global knowledge, cultural respect, environmental awareness.
- Communication: getting students to apply their oral work, listening, writing and reading in varied contexts.
- Critical-thinking: designing and managing projects which address specific problems and arrive at solutions using appropriate and diverse tools.
- Collaboration: working in teams so students can learn with/from others.
- Creativity and imagination: to develop qualities like enterprise, leadership, innovation.
Prof Fullan states them to be “attributes parents and public value and that employers seek”. I don’t think any of us would disagree. He says: “In the old pedagogies, a teacher’s quality was assessed primarily in terms of ability to deliver content in their area of specialisation.” However, “new” pedagogy is about “the teacher’s repertoire of strategies and different styles of relationships with their learners”.
In my view, this “relationship with learners” begins with the shared language I’m emphasising. Surely, if students appreciate their learning experience is a character-building experience too, no extra work is required. Good relationships are founded on solid communication – but this shouldn’t be only from teacher to student. Students need a vocabulary to communicate with teachers and each other.
As we think as a school about acceleration, tracking students with various abilities and needs of students in your lessons mean that we need to tailor how we teach each one. It doesn’t mean that differentiation needs to add to workload or contribute to an over-complicated lesson. Differentiation should also be for the students we are providing it for, not for a tick box ERO review or Faculty Review inspection.
Differentiation need not be observable
Differentiation is for your students. It shouldn’t be about ticking off boxes. Differentiation is subtle, personal and ingrained in what we do. It isn’t a short term fix but a longer process.
Differentiation is key to good teaching
It’s the conversations we have, the bespoke feedback we give, the way we differ questions between groups of students. Differentiation is a response to what is going on in class. Key word is response not a reaction. It should be thoughtful by the teacher.
Differentiation is not about making tasks easier but clarifying thinking
Show students what they should be aiming for and help scaffold students up towards that outcome.
Note I still have a great deal of thinking to do on this.
It is Fathers Day’s and I am reflecting on how my has changed in the last 8 years as a Dad. The other week I posted a photo of my daughter completing her first Weetbix Triathlon. She suggested I post the above of me finished my first and only (so far) half iron-man.
I have been contemplating a leadership metaphor used by Simon Sinek on a Ted Talk.
The quote that sticks out to me is “great leaders are like parents wanting to give their children (employees) opportunities to try and fail in safe ways and to discipline when necessary”.
I’m struck by the use of the term “discipline” in the metaphor when applied to leadership in a school.
Discipline is commonly defined as getting someone to follow the rules and there is some implication of punishment if you don’t.
Perhaps if people don’t follow the team decision that provides for consistency then discipline is applied – usually a one on one conversation between leader and in this case teacher. But is it then about natural consequences of not following the decision.
Real change change occurs in schools when students have input and their is relational trust to do so.
I’m fortunate as a school leader that my teachers share their ideas and thoughts with me. My students are so frank and host. I really respect them for that. .
I am running a number of classroom circle events this semester with my students – I am using this clip. By the way. Circles are change the way I teach. Worth investigating.
What makes a school successful? The principal… the teachers… the students… the parents?
Can one individual (or group of individuals) be the determining factor of success or not?
Can leadership come from the middle or must it originate and live at the top? None of these questions are easily answered, but in my experience as an educator, it’s principal leadership that makes all the difference.
It’s this difference that we are so desperately needing in our schools…We need leaders who recognize and pay homage to ‘what was’ in an effort to maximize and capitalize on ‘what could be.’ Schools are in need of a leader with a vision; a vision that is bigger than any one individual.
We need leaders who see the big picture. We need leaders who won’t shy away from asking tough questions and won’t yield on having high expectations for all with a belief that all can achieve in their own respective way. We need leaders who are willing to be visible. We need leaders who are willing to stand up and speak when others choose to remain quietly seated.
We need leaders who are able to adapt and shift based on what’s needed of them. There’s no such thing as black and white and straight-forward when it comes to education, so being flexible is absolutely critical.
We need leaders who can commit to making a decision even when they know the decision won’t be popular. People will eventually come to terms with something they don’t agree with; people can’t come to terms with uncertainty and confusion.
We need leaders who can effectively and clearly communicate. Last week at Year 13 retreat this was emphasized and gave me something to reflect on this week.
Our deepest conversations with colleagues revolve around helping students to be successful. It worries me some students don’t try because they do not wish to fail. The complexity level of many students is stunning and therefore it takes a much deeper level of professional collaboration and parental partnership then ever before in our role as educators. The words anxiety, depression, autism, and opposition are part of our vernacular on a daily basis. A great deal of our work deals with student well-being
Into this conversation arrives the theory of grit, perhaps espoused best by Angela Lee Duckworth. I am loving this read. Find it . Read it.