Tag Archives: real world

Curriculum for the Future

30 Apr

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The future of teaching in schools is a current, very complex education issue. Teaching is being informed that it must change and retain a focus on core skills to develop students who can participate in our 21st century society. Transformation of practice is often cited as a key goal for teachers’ and their curriculum to achieve these expectations.

Last year I attended an online webinar around future curriculum. This in-turn set underway our future curriculum review.

There are 3 important drivers of this conversation;

    1. LwDT; over the past 25 years technology has been used to amplify our teaching methods, engage students with their learning and make educational infrastructure more efficient. Today, technology can transform teaching, classrooms and schools in ways we never considered possible 25 years ago. Individual teachers and some schools are exploring breathtaking innovations…educational innovation is as diverse as it is spontaneous and irregular currently.
    2. Brain science; growth mindset, mindfulness, the science of learning has revealed significant new insights into how students learn best and the unique nature of each students learning. We need to focus on developing the intellect of each individual and concede that the teach content and test content academic model falls well short in the 21st century.
    3. The future needs of students; to ensure they can be active participants in a 21st century society where citizenship, career and communication are envisaged to be so different to existing contexts.  We need to understand and cater for students, perhaps our brightest students, can now genuinely consider creating their own job rather than go to university or follow a traditional career path.

In order to develop students who are best equipped for the future a new core set of skills have been identified as being essential for successful participation in the 21st century economy and society. They are usually identified as;

1. being creative and innovative in their thinking

2. being able to collaborate, sometimes over distance

3. being able to problem solve

4. being able to communicate well in a different modes

5. being entirely comfortable and innovative with LwDT.

A key to this thinking has been Michael Fullan’s work around the 6Cs. Watch this space.

Curriculum Inquiry: Easter Reflection

18 Apr

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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.

  1.  What are the key concepts we will address in this course?
  2.  What are the key skills we will address in this course?
  3.  What are the priority standards for this course? How will we ensure that these standards are emphasized throughout the year?
  4.  If I had a daughter enrolled in this course, would I be satisfied?
  5. How will we implement the 4 Cs (Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity) in curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment(s)?
  6. Will we use LwDT to support teaching and learning? How? What are the goals?
  7. Are there opportunities for student-led lessons or is every lesson dictated by the curriculum and teacher-led?
  8. Are there multiple options for personalized learning throughout the course?
  9. Does the course incorporate student-led questions which deepen student understanding?
  10. How will we measure student understanding?
  11. Are we designing authentic tasks for students?
  12. What is the role of formative assessment in measuring the written, taught, and understood curricula?
  13. Do we have a plan for when students don’t learn?
  14. Does our learning space support student understanding of the key skills, concepts, and soft skills that our staff has identified as important?
  15. How often do we meet to discuss teaching and learning?
  16. Do we analyze career readiness indicators? What is my role in supporting college and career readiness?
  17.  Do teachers have the opportunity to provide ongoing feedback regarding the school curriculum?

 

 

Networks of Schools

7 Apr

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“The future of schools lies in networks rather than hierarchies, in lateral rather than vertical organisations. Networks cannot be managed the same way that hierarchies are managed. Social networking is a different way of organising.”

This week I have been thinking about the concept of Communities of Learning. George Siemens has been writing about moving from hierarchies to networks for a long time, and when Matt Esterman and I wrote about Teacher-Led Conferences for Learning Forward, we reported,

Brafman & Beckstrom (2007) contrast traditional “spider” organizations which have a rigid hierarchy and top-down leadership, and revolutionary “starfish” organizations which depend on the power of peer to peer relationships. Their metaphor is that if you chop off a spider’s leg, it will be permanently crippled. However, if you chop off a starfish’s leg it will grow another one and the old leg can grow into a completely new starfish.”

I have recently come across this article on Hierarchy and Network which asserts that a hierarchy opposes change and that,

“The successful organization of the future will have two organizational structures: a Hierarchy, and a more teaming, egalitarian, and adaptive Network….My idea of the Network is a system of teams with representatives from all divisions and all levels, who leave formal titles at the door to participate in a decidedly  anti-hierarchical forum….With this Network, potential opportunities and changes are identified, urgency around tomorrow’s possibilities is fostered and maintained, strategies for organization-wide changes are formed, barriers identified and addressed, and change is achieved.”

I am fascinated by the concept of network leadership in schools and would like to explore this further.

Trend Three: Equitable Access

15 Mar

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Engaging akonga and staff effectively as partners in learning and teaching is arguably one of the most important issues facing higher education in the 21st century. Akonga as partners is a concept which interweaves through many other debates, including assessment and feedback, employability, flexible pedagogies, internationalisation, linking teaching and research, and retention and success. Interest in the idea has proliferated in policy and practice in our nation and internationally, particularly in the last few years. The following research got me thinking about Equitable Access.

Wider economic factors are influencing a contemporary environment in which akonga are often positioned as passive consumers of, rather than active participants in, their own higher education. It is timely to take stock and distil the current context, underlying principles and directions for future work on akonga as partners in learning and teaching.

Some of the issues that I think that need to be considered are:

  • offer a pedagogical case for partnership in learning and teaching;
  • propose a conceptual model for exploring the ways in which akonga act as partners in learning and teaching;
  • outline how the development of partnership learning communities or whanau may guide and sustain practice;
  • map the territory of strategic and sustainable practices of engaging akonga as partners in learning and teaching across diverse contexts;
  • identify tensions and challenges inherent to partnership in learning and teaching, and offer suggestions to individuals and institutions for addressing them;
  • identify priorities for further work.

Partnership is framed as a process of student engagement, understood as staff and akonga learning and working together to foster engaged student learning and engaging learning and teaching enhancement. In this sense partnership is a relationship in which all participants are actively engaged in and stand to gain from the process of learning and working together. This approach recognises that engaged student learning is positively linked with learning gain and achievement, and argues that partnership represents a sophisticated and effective approach to student engagement because it offers the potential for a more authentic engagement with the nature of learning itself and the possibility for genuinely transformative learning experiences for all involved. Hence, we speak of engagement through partnership. Partnership as a process of engagement uniquely foregrounds qualities that put reciprocal learning at the heart of the relationship, such as trust, risk, inter-dependence and agency. In its difference to other, perhaps more traditional, forms of learning and working in the academy, partnership raises awareness of implicit assumptions, encourages critical reflection and opens new ways of thinking, learning and working in contemporary higher education. Partnership is essentially a process of engagement, not a product. It is a way of doing things, rather than an outcome. All partnership is student engagement, but not all student engagement is partnership.

I think I wondered off the topic but again challenging thoughts.

Trend One: Diversity

13 Mar

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Designing for difference is impacting the way we organise and govern our societies and prepare for the future. In education, this “difference” imperative is also becoming a catalyst for change:

  • findings in cognitive neuroscience are confirming that there is significant variability in how we each learn (OECD 2010).
  • international reports focus on the need for schools to develop acute sensitivity to individual learner’s differences and to use that knowledge as a driver for the design of physical and blended learning environments and flexible teaching approaches (OECD 2012, 2015)

Diversity work on school campuses takes many forms, and at their best, learning communities build on this existing work. The diversity I want to focus on that is of the Learning Community.

Learning communities can also become places where teachers develop powerful pedagogical strategies that support the learning of all students.

In short, the three central elements for approaching diversity through learning communities are as follows:

1) Designing learning communities for groups of students;

2) Using learning communities as sites for curriculum transformation;

3) Developing pedagogical practices that support diverse learners. Reflecting on these three elements is at the core of connecting the widely-recognized power of learning community structures with the rich work that has been done around diversity issues over the past two decades.

The broad range of experiences and perspectives brought to school by culturally and ethnically diverse students offer a powerful resource for everyone to learn more—in different ways, in new environments, and with different types of people. Every single person in this enormously diverse and ever-changing system has the power to serve as an invaluable resource for all others—students, teachers, and the community. Rather than constituting a problem for students and educators, the growing diversity in U.S. classrooms necessitates and encourages the development and use of diverse teaching strategies designed to respond to each student as an individual.

 

We are fortunate for I believe as a culture we embrace diversity. This boundless diversity has resulted in the inventions, discoveries, ideas, literature, art, music, films, languages, political systems, and foods that enrich our culture. This needs to reflected in our classrooms for this diversity has the potential for enriching our classroom. Our students bring us opportunities to be explored and treasures to be appreciated, and they help us challenge the status quo.

Adopting a truly global perspective allows us to view culturally diverse students and their parents or guardians as resources who provide unparalleled opportunities for enrichment. However, we need a greater repertoire of approaches to teaching and learning to cope with varied styles of learning. Teachers and students alike must cultivate interpersonal skills and respect for other cultures. The new world economy demands this global view. After all, our markets and economic competition are now global, and the skills of intercultural communication are necessary in politics, diplomacy, economics, environmental management, the arts, and other fields of human endeavor.

Surely a diverse classroom is the ideal laboratory in which to learn the multiple perspectives required by a global society and to use information concerning diverse cultural patterns. Students who learn to work and play collaboratively with classmates from various cultures are better prepared for the world they face now—and the world they will face in the future. Teaching and learning strategies that draw on the social history and the everyday lives of students and their cultures can only assist this learning process.

 

Teachers promote critical thinking when they make the rules of the classroom culture explicit and enable students to compare them with other cultures. Students can develop cross-cultural skills in culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms. For such learning to take place, however, teachers must have the attitudes, knowledge, and skills to make their classrooms effective learning environments for all students. Given the opportunity, students can participate in learning communities within their schools and town and be ready to assume constructive roles as workers, family members, and citizens in a global society.

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?

 

 

My first Principal…

22 Jan

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Here are a few things my first principal taught me on my own path to servant leadership:

  • Don’t take advantage of your title or positional power; instead, inspire by making them feel like an equal.
  • Share the vision and decision-making with others. Make sure followers have a seat at the table in important decisions.
  • Provide followers with all the resources they need so they can become better leaders.

While he was still my “principal” and expectations of my performance were high, I recall how much more satisfied and engaged I felt than at any other time in my young corporate career.

What was it about this professional relationship that worked out so well for me? It comes down to four leadership principles proven over time to build trust and loyalty in followers.

  1. He facilitated a shared vision. 

My first principal communicated an image of the future that drew us all in. It spoke to what his team (my colleagues) saw and felt.

  • Destination: Where are we going?
  • Purpose: Why do we exist? What greater good do we serve?
  • Values: What principles guide our decisions and actions on our journey?

When a vision addresses all three of these questions for team members, a tremendous amount of energy is unleashed.

  1. He shared power and released control.

If you want to foster high trust, risk-taking, creativity and open communication, but you’re still riding on your autocratic high-horse and instilling fear, consider getting off for the higher road of sharing power and releasing control.

This means allowing the freedom for others to experiment, lead themselves, stretch, and make mistakes. This will unleash discretionary effort and your team will produce great results. That’s what happened to My first principal’s team.

  1. He put people in positions to lead.

Instead of leveraging his positional power for personal gain, self-promotion or demands for special privileges, My first principal put his people in positions of leadership to stretch their growth and develop new strengths and roles.

The return on this investment was watching a leadership culture rise up. Many of us got promoted to leadership roles, filling key positions internally.

  1. He pushed his authority down.

In highly effective organizations, there are leaders at every level, not just at the top. The solution is always to push authority down so you’re creating a leader-leader culture. This is what My first principal did exceptionally well.By the way it was not Michael Scott!!!

What are some good examples of leaders who share leadership? How do they do it?

Is it Relevant?

13 Jan

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At the end of the year I like to evaluate my teaching which as a member of the SLT is becoming rarer. These are some great questions to ask. As part of our Faculty review processes these are great discussion starters.

1.) Who is doing a majority of the talking in your classroom?

It’s the person who is doing the majority of the talking that tends to do the most learning, so what is the teacher/student talking ratio in your classroom? If you find yourself always talking more than your students, try and figure out some ways to empower your students so they are more involved in the learning.
2). How often are you mixing up and changing the learning landscape in your classroom?

So there’s this misconception that learning must take place within the four walls of a classroom. In spite of popular belief, the magic barrier between a classroom and the outside world doesn’t work like a light switch where learning can occur and can’t occur. Learning is happening all around and should be happening all around us; there are no limits or barriers to where and when learning can occur. Take the authenticity of your classroom to the next level by mixing up the learning landscape and allowing kids to learn in a more natural state.

3). Who is deciding what is relevant and important in your classroom?

How often do we teach what we want as teachers or because we have sensational resources. What you think is important and relevant may not align perfectly with what your students think is important and relevant. If we the teachers are constantly telling students what to learn and how to learn it, then we are leaving out the most important parts of the education process, student voice and student choice. Embrace a learning culture where student opinions and student interests are valued and encouraged and you will see student engagement and student passion skyrocket.

Teenagers!!!!

18 Oct

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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

How to achieve Deeper Learning

11 Mar

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Establishing a culture of inquiry is a necessary prerequisite to achieving deeper student learning. The art of thinking flourishes within an emotionally, intellectually and physically safe learning environment that is carefully constructed by the classroom teacher. The development of philosophical dispositions must be fostered within both students and educators, because deep thinking is supported by deep teaching.

I wrote recent in my summarty to the Board of Trustees regarding NCEA results that one of the keys was Professional Development and relevance to real life.

I believe the development of formal thinking and logical reasoning skills is necessary to achieving deeper learning. Teachers should first immerse themselves in professional development focused on building inquiry skills, possibly within the field of philosophy. Learning to think deeply is a prerequisite to planning lessons with flexibility and creativity, both of which are critical aspects to achieving deeper student learning.

Prior to students becoming skilled at inquiry-based discussions, teachers must verbally model thinking skills for students by thinking aloud and making unlikely connections. Deeper learning necessitates deeper teaching. The is best done in professional learning groups as part of a professional learning network.

As teachers it is important we make learning relevant, meaningful, and tied to the generational characteristics of  students. I find when reviewing  documents, students rewrite the document with current jargon, allowing for a deeper understanding of its meaning. This also develops creative ways of thinking about the information, so that they can make connections and think outside of the box.

Deeper learning is the key to deeper understanding. How are you approaching ths in your school?

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