Tag Archives: culture of learning

Being prescriptive

13 Jan

hqdefault

What should be included in typical lesson sequences?

Forget about a rigid lesson formula, but over a series of lessons, are there common elements, features, processes, activities that we all agree should be included? Do we agree what science experiments to do as a class practical and what is a teacher demonstration – or is that up to each person to decide, even though this shapes the enacted curriculum significantly? Do we say poems aloud  and start maths lessons with five quick recall questions? Or do our own thing…

Whilst being clear that it’s the spirit of any framework that matters, not the letter – not some rigid checklist to take people to task over – we do need some agreement about what lessons in our school, in our year, in our subject look like.  These decisions essentially form the curriculum students experience.

I encourage all staff to do your thing. don’t be somebody else. It is the same with a school. A curriculum needs to suit and serve the community not something the SLT have found in a book.

Curriculum: Does everyone see the picture?

12 Jan

download

If you’re building a coherent spiral curriculum, you need to know what goes where in time; you need to know which pillars of your curriculum tower are crucial; foundational. You need know how it all fits and why things are where they are.  Not everyone knows – and it’s a mistake to assume they do.  This needs some discussion to create a shared understanding, beyond dishing out the scheme of work and syllabus and assuming that’ll do.

Similarly, how are we doing on the details?  If we’re building a deep connected curriculum   then it’s important to explore the details of what should be taught – especially where non-specialists are involved, focusing on the core concepts.  It’s hard to think of a better use of team time – making sure everyone really knows the curriculum in detail.  I meet teachers quite often who haven’t read their achievement standard specification themselves, missing out on the wording, the examples, the emphasis given to specifics.

As we start the year this is worth doing. Indeed I am off to do it now.

Culture of school in Term 3

1 Oct

image

How strong are your relationships in school? Relationships between staff and students are important in promoting strong outcomes. However, the relationships between staff are also vital in developing effective teaching and learning. For us, as teachers, it is important to remember that:

  • we operate as part of our student’s lives;
  • we can tackle whatever challenges are created on a day-by-day basis;
  • we reflect on how we have benefited our student’s lives;
  • we are able to respond to change and handle difficult situations.

It has been found that when faced with challenges, resilient people act purposefully and creatively, to find multiple strategies for any problem. As teachers, we are pretty good at this!

In order to become more resilient and ultimately achieve the best outcomes for our students, it is important to remember why we became teachers. The passion and commitment that teachers show daily, can be lost under the weight of the demands of teaching. Teaching is not an easy profession, but by nurturing resilience we can support and sustain our practice.

My Inquiry Continues

28 Jul

download

As a classroom teacher I am always looking at how I can become a better teacher. I constantly question how I could improve instruction so that tamariki I am teaching can learn at high levels. It is important for me to improve my craft so that I could help my students maximize their potential. Recently I became I began thinking about my teaching in a different way.

How do I influence teachers change instructional practice? As a leader, how do I help teachers learn and adopt new skills and instructional practices?

In his book Transforming School Culture, Anthony Muhammad reveals teachers have been socialized in the field where they will practice since they were five years old. He calls this “apprenticeship of observation.” Empowered with this information, I began to reflect on what practices would be so deeply ingrained in teachers? What experiences had teachers had as young learners that were impacting the learning of their students 20, 30, or even 40 years later?

It was during this period of reflection that my two goals merged as one. I was working diligently with teachers to help them transition their frame of mind around assessment practices while trying to improve my instructional practices as their leader and guide. It was time to apply best assessment practices with teachers, so that they could personally learn to value and deeply understand the purpose and process. I had years of “un-doing” the early training they had for their entire schooling career, but it was the most powerful way to help teachers learn to value best assessment practices.

It was important to start with a task that was of critical importance to teachers: their evaluation tool. In my desire to communicate to teachers the critical importance of helping students understand the clear criteria for which they would be assessed on any given task. This topic was deeply personal and it was evident that teachers were quickly engaged by having ownership in establishing the criteria. When things are personal conversations are often difficult.

I need to consider a process for this. This needs to be formulated working with teachers. You can enhance or destroy students’ desire to succeed in school more quickly and permanently through your use of assessment than with any other tools you have at your disposal. Through the practice of using best assessment practices with teachers, mindsets began to change about what best assessment practice really means in the development of our tamariki. More to come on this.

 

Personalized Learning

23 May

pacman_image

Personalized learning is a hot topic in education. Educators agree that each learner is different with unique interests, needs, strengths, and weaknesses. Of course, it would be ideal if teachers could work with individual learners to identify learning goals, co-create learning experiences, and track progress. I honestly don’t know how realistic the idea of personalized learning is in the context of education in New Zealand as it exists today. Happy for you to challenge me on this.

As long as teachers are juggling large class sizes, seeing five classes a day for less than an hour each, and have limited access to resources, personalized learning or tailoring learning for each student’s strengths, needs, and interests–including enabling student voice and choice in what, how, when, and where they learn may feel unattainable.

Instead of talking about personalized learning, as if it is a destination I have reached. I am reading about using the verb personalizing a lot in my work with educators. It signals that personalization is a journey. Just because we cannot personalize learning for every child every day does not mean it is not a worthy goal to work toward.

Perhaps we could move towards a homeroom experience like in the primary sector?

Innovation and Key Learning

17 Feb

Contemporary business people working in team in the office

I look out my office window on a Sunday (I know please do not judge!!) and I reflect there is so much to do so much to learn, and it all keeps changing. It can be overwhelming. As a leader I want to be innovative, creative, and make a greater impact. As I reflect on the data of our curriculum inquiry I identify three main areas that are “work ons” for me:

Less hui and more doey

We spend too much time spent thinking, reading, and watching what might change your teaching, your school, education — and not enough time spent doing the work. It is great the I now have evidence but the key is the next piece of mahi.

I read a lot of twitter chats, blogs, books, and TED Talks on how to innovate in education and transform learning. So much so, that a few years ago I felt overwhelmed just by the amount of reading. After taking a break from reading, I realized that there was a reason I wanted to get it right. Like my student I didn’t want to fail. Yet, unless I started taking action, there was not going to be any change that was made.

Don’t get drowned out by the information highway and not make time for creating and growing your people.

Focusing on the shiny instead of what works.

Yes, I am still recovering from years of worrying about the newest, latest, greatest thing. Whenever a new product, or new release, or new phone would come out, I would jump on the bandwagon immediately. I like the “new” part of innovation, but not the “new ideas that work better” piece.

Trying to do everything

There is lots of material out there about leaders going out by themselves. You are not alone wolf. Use your network. Ask others to help.

What mistakes have you made in doing innovative and creative work? What lessons have you learned along the way?

Changing Our Culture

4 Jun

hqdefault

I found this a brilliant reflection this week.

 

 

 

Being Excited

19 May

hipster-teacher-worst

Confident, excited teachers make for confident and excited students. Jim Knight (2007), an expert on instructional coaching, suggests, “When people talk about learning, the experience should be exciting, energizing, and empowering.”  Assessment has the potential to generate all three of these conditions when designed and used in the service of learning.

What kind of assessment practices generate this type of culture? What kind of professional learning experiences contribute to teachers developing their assessment practices? I want to share a couple of conversations and experiences I have had in the past few months that focus around the question: How can assessment build confidence and excitement that leads to higher achievement and more investment by both teachers and students?  Three big ideas emerged from these experiences.

  1. Believe 

When we focus our efforts, and protect ample amounts of time for reflection and application, we will see results. This act fosters a sense of efficacy, signalling that we believe our teachers have the capacity to do amazing work.

At a recent professional learning, our Leaders of Learning group strived to do just that. The intent of the session was to create higher quality assessment and courses that better reflected our curriculum document. As teachers talked with colleagues about what they wanted students to learn and what kind of meaningful student work might help them gather information on the extent to which students had learned, there was energy in the air. I posed a few ideas around quality assessment design-precision, action, and student investment.

  1. Build 

In what ways can students be co-designers of their learning experiences? Co-design can happen in constructing quality criteria together. As students examine strong and weak samples of work, a co-constructed list of criteria offers students a sense of what quality looks like and a clearer vision of expectations. This leads to higher quality work.

Students might even co-design experiences to learn a concept. What if students were posed something like the following: We are going to focus on learning about the impact of war on the environment. What might be the ways we can learn about this?  Work individually or in pairs to research and design an activity or two to guide your peers in learning about war’s impact on the environment.

The co-design process works beautifully to empower teachers. As schools and districts aim to improve the quality of their assessment practices, why not ask teachers to co-design the process and the products that will help assessment create this culture of learning.

  1. Provide 

Creating a culture of opportunity and possibility begins with the tone and spirit with which we invite students and teachers into conversation and continues through the types of feedback offered. Feedback and the tone and setting in which it is provided generates confidence or shuts it down.

At the core of learning conversations, making people feel energized, excited and empowered is ample time to create, involvement in a co-design, and targeted feedback in the context of deliberate practice. These practices create a space where listening is central –people (students and teachers) feeling listened to and believed in. The road to achievement and confidence is paved with creative time, an ongoing commitment to co-design, and deliberate practice with targeted feedback.

Culture Again….

1 Nov

pacman_image

Culture is fundamentally about relationships. Technology is a critical component of all learning environments. However, learning without human rapport and interactive relationships is a poor ecosystem for human development. A landscape in which the foundation has not been prepared to adapt to change, to embrace what is best for students, to accept that risks, constant change and uncertainty are the order of the day, is one in which initiatives will ultimately fail.

A healthy culture is immediately discernible, though perhaps difficult to define: “A collaborative culture feels a bit like family: Although individuals may not always get along, they will support each other when push comes to shove. A collaborative culture is a strong culture in which most people are on the same page.” (Gruenert, Whitaker)

A collaborative culture also leads to higher levels of trust and respect among colleagues and translates to improved student learning. Empowered learning requires investment in technology. It requires talented teachers who are supported. But too often the infrastructure and the investment are as far as the planning goes.

The best schools and the deepest learning are characterized by one simple truth. The work is about individual learner needs, not systems. It’s about the ecosystem and a humane environment that permits teachers to work for the students, not the system. Being relational. As everything becomes digital, school culture matters more than ever.

Gruenert, Steve & Whitaker, Todd. School Culture Rewired. 2015.

Culture vs Strategy

19 Sep

pacman_image

Is culture really more important than strategy to an organisation? Peter Drucker’s oft-quoted appreciation for the importance of culture is rooted in his strong belief in community. But surely a company that places greater value on culture over strategic planning is doomed to failure? I don’t think so. In fact, when it comes to schools, I think culture devours everything it encounters.

While places of learning need to be strategic, nothing is more important than school culture, what Michael Fullan refers to as “the guiding beliefs and expectations evident in the way a school operates”. Culture is all about people. Therefore it follows that the single most important thing a great school needs is great teachers

We know that placing the latest cutting edge technology in the hands of a weak teacher will do little to improve learning. And so it is in a school with a great strategy and a weak culture. School leaders need to pay more attention to recruiting the very best teachers then supporting them in a collaborative, supportive environment that enables them not only to embrace change, but to lead it.

Mytwosentences

Fitted Storytelling from Edward Roads

Danielle Anne Lynch

Music, Theology, Religion, Education

Learn To Love Food

Food Fun For Feeding Therapy and Picky Eaters

youreffectiveleadership

This WordPress.com site is the cat’s pajamas

NotesFromNina

Meaningful learning and effective teaching with a Finnish twist

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

karen spencer

Let's talk about learning and leading

Education in the Age of Globalization

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

Teaching & E-Learning

Learning in Today's World

A View from the Middle

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

Powerful Learning: It's a Digital Thing

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

Search Msdn

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

Artichoke

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

Mike's Blog

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

Back2skool

Technology lessons from the classroom...

Welcome to the Frontpage

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

Mark's Learning Log

Director of Learning Inquiries Pty Ltd an experienced educator

Mal Lee

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible