Tag Archives: Feedback

Flipped Learning

12 Feb


As educators we should ask ourselves “what would we lose if we put all of our lecture notes online, or made them available for students online?” Would we lose interaction? Collaboration? Contribution? If education is more than the transfer of information, what is it? I have been doing a great deal of thinking at present about the change we need to make in teaching.

This week I have been doing some work on Microsoft Teams. This is a great tool and it had lead me to think about the work of Eric Mazur who I was fortunate to listen to last year. Eric Mazur claims we’d lose very little dialogue, very little interaction if we shared our notes with students. I agree with this looking at my evidence this week. I saw an interactivity in learning.

I really enjoyed Mazur’s approach to this in his writings. Mazur’s clever use of the physics problem of what happens to the hole in the middle of a metal plate when it is heated demonstrated very powerfully the way we can increase learning power when we turn on the innate learning curiosity of our learners. The exercise moved from a focus on the fact, to the reasoning – he ignited the fire of the audience curiosity! His point was powerfully made with regards to how we need work with students in our classrooms. Mazur’s use of this approach has been researched to demonstrate the impact of this on student retention – the significance here being the difference between simply transferring information (focus on facts) to the engagement in creating knowledge (emergence of reasoning).

The Flipped Learning environment offers such richness for a learning point of view.  There is more student accountability and agency for gathering information so we can better help them assimilate it.

There is a change the idea of delivering and transferring information for the learner. It puts the learner in charge. There is a transmission of knowledge vs construction of knowledge. We need to allow time for the brain to process the information – not simply ‘remember’ it. Moreover, but involving students in sharing among themselves, the learning is no longer an isolated experience. Education, deep down, is a social experience – not an isolated one (reference here to Vygotsky’s theories here)



Things to Think About?

20 Dec

Contemporary business people working in team in the office

Great schools all have one thing in common: great organizational culture. I have reflected on this many times this year. Here some things, which I think, are important:

  1. Don’t Micro-Manage Teachers/Middle Managers

Teachers and principals need to be focused on one thing: their students. Too often, their focused is shifted from maximizing student achievement to compliance issues, paperwork, or other aspects that are not important or urgent. However, they will get email after email, memo after memo, reminding them to complete the tasks that will have no bearing on student achievement. Let them keep their focus on students. Trust in them that they know what their students need. After all, they are with them all day long.

  1. Give The Staff a Voice

No one likes to have decisions dictated from the top down. Teachers and principals must be trusted to make decisions for the students they work with. These decisions need to come from within.

  1. Share Success with Your Community

The use of Social Media here is really useful here.

Appraisal and Our Body of Work

2 Aug


How might a teacher’s performance be appraised? How can the whole, as well as the parts be considered? Of what use is the performance of teaching for observations by management, versus relaxed one-on-one discussions with students or an experimental lesson tried for the first time? And of what use are the ‘individual works’ such as unit plans, student work examples, lesson data and external test results? Data can provide a tangible, depersonalized third point for professional conversations, just as a particular work of art can be representative of an artist’s work. An exhibition from a particular period of an artist’s work can give a broader picture of their work during that time. A posthumous exhibition of their life’s work can provide the broad narrative of how their work has evolved. These are all different but meaningful lenses for appreciation and critique; each is a useful way of viewing the work and worth of the artist or teacher.

On the one hand, teaching does become a body of work over time. A life’s work for some. This gestalt includes ever-expanding subject knowledge, evolving pedagogies, relational skills and behaviour management tools. Many of the things teachers do become internalised, less-deliberate moves, part of a way of being. Perhaps a teacher should not be judged by a lesson that they teach or one set of student results, but there is value in each piece of work being reflected upon and closely considered for the understandings it might surface about that teacher’s practice; the details it might reveal; or the points of celebration, critique or change it might incite.

Friday Thought: Be Reflective

2 Jun


I was told this week Andrew you must reflect more on your practice. It was a timely reminder. I have heard a few times recently when discussing the importance or reflection as part of the school improvement process. When digging deeper into what is meant by this, I have found that in some cases there is a lack of understanding as to what it really means to be a reflective teacher. Too often, when we think about being a reflective practitioner, the reflection process is limited to evaluation; what went well and what did not. In some instances, reflection may include what might I do differently next time. A peer tells me often it is about process.

Being reflective is much more than that. Reflection must involve action. True reflection in education cannot happen without the the thoughts of what might be done differently next time actually translating into planning for action and taking action. There is no point saying that all teachers are reflective if there are lots of thoughts but no action. How does that really improve student learning?

Collaboration is an important part of being a reflective teacher. Reflecting on your own can have its limitations in terms of having other people to bounce ideas of, having other people to challenge each others viewpoints, having other people to give us the necessary feedback to critically reflect and, most importantly, other people to share our journey with. I recognize my own PLN here.

A Reflection: June 1

31 May


If you have not spent time seriously exploring pedagogy, then you are going to fall into the trap of teaching the same way, just on a bigger scale.

Truly interrogating what you currently do requires some serious consideration of what is currently seen and accepted as best practice. Why is it best practice? Who decided? Is it best practice for all groups of learners? Is the numeracy project really meeting your identified student needs? Who says it is best practice? How well does it marry our curriculum? How well does it marry with BES? Is it moving your kids? Is there stages that they just roadblock at and need something different? Same for writing and reading? Where are the authentic links? Are they authentic for the actual kids in front of you? Or are they authentic in an adult’s head and world?

Growth Mind-Set in My Class

3 Apr


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.

Review and Reflection

26 Feb

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ERO asked us in 2016 how do we know students are learning and how do we know acceleration is taking place?

As we enter 2017, we continue to ask this important question. While standardized tests provide data on student understanding, the data comes at the end of the year. Teachers need actionable data and strategies for supporting all students during the school year. How will your school staff measure if students are learning?

The idea of using leading and lagging indicators to measure the health of an organization was introduced by Robert Kaplan and David Norton (1993). The premise behind their theory is that lagging indicators will tell you nothing about how the outcomes were achieved, in the absence of leading indicators. Leading indicators provide early warnings about being on track to achieve your strategic goals. Lagging indicators measure what has already taken place. In the absence of clear indicators, teachers and administrators will be unable to measure student learning in a timely manner.

The danger in focusing on outcome measures is that most teachers feel powerless to impact change. Indicators should be “actionable at the school level, meaning that school leaders, teachers, and staff can use them to make changes that will have a demonstrable impact on student outcomes” (Pinkus, 2009, p. 5). As you establish New Year’s resolutions and professional goals, ask the following questions. When teacher teams have clear indicators, it will support all students.

 10 Ways To Measure Student Understanding

  1. Does our team/course have SMART goals? (DuFour, 2014)
  2. Do you administer common formative assessments?
  3. Does each teacher understand the Priority Learners Document?”
  4. Do you have a plan for when students don’t learn?
  5. Do you have a plan for students who need acceleration?
  6. Have you identified data points that we will measure throughout the semester?
  7. Do we have rubrics and exemplar work so teachers, students and families can identify opportunities for growth?
  8. Do you have a clear Response to Intervention (RtI) program or is RtI left to each teacher?
  9. Do you have scheduled meetings when data is discussed or do we hope the conversation will take place during passing period?
  10. Have you considered our Maori student achievement and acceleration in our work?



Teaching in a Multi-level classroom

24 Feb


Teaching multi-level classes is an issue which is becoming more common in our ever-changing environment. Differentiating instruction may mean teaching the same material to all students using a variety of instructional strategies, or it may require the teacher to deliver lessons at varying levels of difficulty based on the ability of each student. Formative assessment is an essential ingredient of this method.

Teachers who practice differentiation in the classroom may:

  • Design lessons based on students’ learning styles.
  • Group students by shared interest, topic or ability for assignments.
  • Assess students’ learning using formative assessment.
  • Manage the classroom to create a safe and supportive environment.
  • Continually assess and adjust lesson content to meet students’ needs

Do you have any tips or strategies that have worked for you?

Observation in the Classroom

10 Jun


To me the key component to effective teacher observation is that it be student-focused. The emphasis needs to be on how things can be done differently in the classroom to ensure that students succeed academically. It must also be authentic. Conversations need to take place before and after the visit.

I think my teaching environment is a setting where a teachers-observing-teachers strategy thrives. A culture exists where people report with pride that they push’ one another professionally. I notice all teachers’ value collegial relationships as a means to professional development. This has been a journey and because of this that is why it is so successful.

Research tells me that the whole school community benefit from this being a success. What tools are you using in your environment?


14 Sep


I have had a week of meetings and I tell you what it can be rather draining even for an extrovert like me. I have observed and learnt a great deal. Human behaviour is interesting and sometimes I wish I had We all have the tendency, when we think we’re under attack, to circle the wagons and protect ourselves. You can literally read someone’s body language.  When this is happening — they fold their arms, furrow their brows — and you can almost see the steam coming out of their ears. But if you want to build a feedback loop in your business, you, especially as a leader, need to lead by example and open yourself up to hear what people are saying. If someone in another department is convinced you’re not listening to them, what makes you think they’ll listen to anything you have to say to them? Yes, opening yourself up makes you vulnerable. But that’s also why we preach the idea that “you aren’t your code,” which is another way of saying that we all need to be able to process constructive criticism without taking it personally. If you can do that, you can create the kind of open and honest culture that is capable of tackling the thorniest of issues together. And you’ll be amazed that listening changes perspectives.  to someone’s feedback, and take action on it, you’ll increase that person’s engagement level in his or her work.


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