Friday, June 27, 2014

Lessons learnt over the decades.

'If you are going to bow your head  bow it to a mighty mountain'

Yesterday I travelled to present ideas to a group of teachers in South Taranaki.

It has been a few years since I gave such a presentation and wasn't really that keen to do it. It would have been easy to dust off an old PowerPoint but instead , but since the invitation had made me think of my education career, I thought I would simply share the 'lessons' I had learnt when working with teachers over the years.

I have previously written a longer blog  ( with useful links for further reading)with the same theme but below are just the main ideas I shared:

1 The best ideas come from practicing teachers - the problem in our devolved system is to know where teachers with particular gifts are.

Pet Bantam - mini study
2 It is important to take advantage of the 'teachable moment' - an unplanned experience that has caught the attention of the class. Some might evolve into longer studies.

3 Room environments are the teachers main 'message' system to students and visitors. When visiting classrooms  look for the 'C/C rating' - on one hand inter-class consistency and equally important  individual teacher creativity.

Room Environment
4 It is important to 'slow the pace' of students work to allow time for teachers to assist  so as to get quality thinking- too many students think 'first finished is best'. It is important to help each student achieve their 'personal best' -particularly something they can see. In this process students learn the importance of 'stick-ability' or effort needed to achieve anything of quality.

5 Observation is a vital skill ( great to slow the pace) and if done well students can develop thoughts and questions during the
Dead bird - art//lang/science
process and later can use the ideas creatively.

6 In an increasingly virtual world it is important to develop awareness through the senses - through such experiences students language develops and questions emerge.

7 Inquiry studies ought to be central to the school day. An excellent inquiry model is the Learning In Science Project research ( LISP) based on valuing students prior ideas to
Where does our voice come from?
their questions and then for them research to clarify.

8 Not knowing is a vital attribute - it provides motivation to learn ( basis of all science)

9 It is important to do fewer things well - in depth.

11 Ensure student 'voice' is to be seen in the research students complete - all too often 'cut and paste'.

12 Need to 'reframe' , as much as possible, literacy and numeracy so they provide skills to be used during student research studies. Try to see the as important 'foundation skills'.

13 Although I am against ability grouping because of negative attitudes created  - rotational group work is an important way to teach in literacy, numeracy and during study time.

Bush study art
14 Art provides another inquiry model from idea generation to realisation - and the results should exhibits the individuality/uniqueness of each learner.

15 Digital technology, used appropriately, can amplify student learning but in itself is no 'silver bullet'. It's not the technology it is the pedagogy that counts. Digital cameras are great for gathering data on field trips.

Group tasks defined
16 Change is a slow process - in one school that successfully introduced many of the 'lessons' outlined it took five terms ( and often gets worse before it gets better). In business they talk of a journey of a 1000 days ( 3 years!).

17 It is a good idea for teachers/schools to define five or so teaching learning beliefs as a basis of their teaching - such beliefs provide consistency and integrity.

18 Take Sir Ken Robinson's advice 'creativity is as important as literacy and numeracy' and also Guy Claxton 'learnacy is as
important as literacy and numeracy'.

19 I believe that the role of schools in the 21stC is ensure the innate desire to learn is kept alive ( Claxton's 'learnacy') and that students gifts, talents and passions are identified, amplified and valued.

20 Best advice comes from educationalist Jerome Bruner ' teaching is the canny art of intellectual temptation'.  How do you tempt students to love maths? He also said ' people get good at what they get good at'. Use it or lose it is good advice. Positive emotions/attitudes are the basis of all learning - this is achieved when students can, as mentioned earlier, see the improvement in their 'personal best' through practice.

Howard Gardner
21 When it comes to talents , according to Howard Gardner there are eight ways of being intelligent - encourage them all ( not just literacy and numeracy).

22 Another educator, Eliot Eisner, talks about seeing every experience through different eyes  - as an artist, poet, mathematician, scientist, historian etc.

23 The future demands we personalise learning and move away from current standardisation. Every student has the right to leave school with a positive learning identity.

24 The 2007,  all but side-lined New Zealand Curriculum , is a great document with its emphasis on students as 'lifelong learner' - best phrase  is for every students to be  a 'seeker, user and creator of their own knowledge'. Consider what this really means.

25 A suggestion for groups of schools. Develop a sharing website with each school involved listing current teachers strengths ( offerings) and current needs. Schools could then visit to observe  or arrange to teachers from other schools to share ideas with staff.

No comments: