Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Beginning the School Year 3

Beginning teaching - or starting a new year

Robert Fried is worth reading. Another of his books is called the 'Passionate Teacher'. In his book the 'Game of School' he writes about how students learn to play the game of school to get along. I remember one of his anecdotes was about a grade one student coming home and being asked by his anxious mother what he had learnt during the day? He told his mum he learnt that their were two kind of kids. Good ones who did as the teacher asked of them and bad kids who didn't. Conformists and non conformists. Kids learn quick.

Fried's book outlines several groups of students from those who work to please the teacher, those who work because they love learning , and others who get their satisfaction by confronting teachers, and those who try to remain invisible

Beginning teachers face a dilemma.

It is obviously sensible to 'find out what is important around here' and to get on with doing it.

Good advice to start with but the danger is that it is all too easy to conform unthinkingly to bad habits as well.Compliance and conformity to school expectations ( for better or worse) is more the name of the game for new teachers.

For example there is a lot of talk about the importance of inquiry and creative learning - about integrating subject disciplines around relevant problems. However when school timetables are passed out it becomes pretty obvious schools are centred around two traditional areas - literacy and numeracy.

In fact it is hard to see where inquiry and creativity actually fit in.

The only solution, if you are a new teacher, is to do your best to develop literacy and numeracy skills that will be used to ensure deep and meaningful inquiry studies. Students should see inquiry learning as the most important thing.. They should see literacy and numeracy as a means to an end -as vital 'foundation skills'. They need to see the difference between 'real' maths and 'practice' maths.

This is easiest in literacy ( I prefer the heading 'language arts') by basing comprehension and information research skills on the current inquiry topic but most inquiry topics also need mathematical skills to be in place. And it is important for students to see the connections as well.

One task I would do is to get the class to complete an informal survey of attitudes, or feelings, towards all aspects of the school curriculum. Ask students to show their interest using a one to five scale or sad or smiley faces.

Developing a love of learning and developing a 'feeling for' each area is vital. If the results are less than wonderful then you will know where to place your effort as teacher.

It strikes me teachers spend hours each week on mathematics for little effect. At the end of schooling far too many students leave with a poor attitude ( and achievement level) in maths and this ought not to be the case. If you placed poetry on the list I bet not many students would say they liked it but I also bet that, with interesting teaching, all students would come to see poetry as a fun activity.

So what do your students think of various school subjects? The survey is a good first day activity. Better still if the list were drawn up by all teachers and used as an important assessment tool.

If you know about the mindset research of Carol Dweck add :

1 Do you think were are born as smart as you are ever going to be ( 'brains' or sports ability) and there are some things you just can't do ?


2 Do you think you can get better at anything if you try hard and practice?

The first is a 'fixed mindset'.Low ability students get their lack of ability affirmed at school ( through ability grouping, national testing or streaming) and high achievers ( often girls) do not risk their status by new areas of learning becoming risk averse. Those with a 'growth mindset' just have a go at anything believing in effort and focused practice and see not succeeding as a challenge.This 'growth mindset' underpins the New Zealand Curriculum; ' have a go kids'

Click on the links below for some good advice to read before starting the school year.

Great expectations -advice for beginning teachers

Starting the school year..Lots of practical activities to choose from

If you want some practical ideas to start the year check out action plans and lessons.

Make this the year to break out of traditional patterns and assumption and to develop active literacy, mathematics and inquiry programmes - ones that value students' 'voice' , questions, ideas and creativity.

There is no rush but don't be trapped by yesterdays timetables and expectations.

Remember the revised New Zealand Curriculum has as its vision for all students to be 'confident life long learners' ( or inquirers) and for them to have the competencies, or 'habits of mind', or 'learning power', to be 'seekers, users,and creators of their own knowledge'.

Few schools have achieved such a vision - yet! Or if they have the vision they have a reality gap between what is said and done

Beginning the School Year :2

Beginning the school year - some activities

My previous blog had ideas about beginning teaching and some links to articles with ideas to to think about. This blog just adds a few more.

Teaching is one profession where there is no shallow end. From day one you are presented with up to thirty plus young individuals for you to shape into a learning community; and every class community will be different. Even experienced teachers have second thoughts about starting a new class as at the end of the year they will have left students who have learnt to work with each other and their teacher.

Developing this learning community is the real challenge for any teacher. Good schools will provide structures, organisations and curriculum guidance to assist but it always worth having ideas up your sleeve.

First impressions count and the students' parents will be waiting to hear from their children what their teacher is like so it is important not to leave it to chance.

A good idea is to begin by introducing yourself to your students with a small potted history of yourself based around a number of questions. The students can then use this model ( or scaffold) to write up something similar to share with you or even, in small groups, with each other.It is a good idea for then to write a draft, or make a mind map, before they start - and this also you can model.

Keep this reasonably short and ask them for their best writing - this will give you an idea of their personal best they bring with them.

You might like to have 'mini lesson' on the school vision, mission and values and what they mean if they are available. This could be developed later into a class treaty of expectations and positive behaviours and linked to a 'mini study' on the Treaty of Waitangi. If so it is a good idea to get them to draft out , or mind map, their 'prior views'. After this done students can complete research to clarify their knowledge.

The idea of valuing students 'prior' ideas, or skills, should be part of all learning activities.

During the first day you might share with them one of the best things ( most memorable or exciting) you did during the holidays. Then get them to do something similar. Emphasize the importance of writing as if they were back in the situation, what they felt , heard. or saw, and get them to write about what they were thinking at the time. This is an opportunity to introduce students to the idea of valuing their personal 'voice' and going for quality - not length or most words.

Think of continuing this personal narrative writing throughout the year as a weekly occurrence - completing one from idea, draft to realisation once a week in a writing journal . This is the best way to let students know you value their experiences and for them to contribute to developing a learning identity.

Personal narratives can be illustrated ( often for homework) but, if so, students need to be taught the skill of powerful drawing. Some students will have already decided that they are not artists and, if so, this is a chance to change their minds. One idea is to get them to complete a self portrait with their biros. First let them draw without instruction ( to see their 'prior' skills) and then guide them ( 'scaffold' them) through the process. This is another chance to introduce the idea of quality. Once again value individual differences. The lesson is outlined in the link on the previous blog.

One way to develop students drawing or illustrative skill is to base their drawing on a digital photo of themselves - possibly doing something exciting during their holidays. If so get them to focus on the dramatic aspects, or close up views, not long distance shots. Combine their portraits with them holding perhaps a fish or some food for example. Get them to include as much texture, or details, as they can.

Both the above can be expanded to develop as a major piece of art.

Another way is to get some school journals and then students to select an illustration they like and to copy it into their language book. It maybe be useful for them to copy only part of the drawing to introduce the idea of focus. When complete add the artists name. This is an excellent language activity and illustrates to the students wide range of artists styles and genres ( there lots of approaches to being an artist from the real to the bold). This is a fun activity to use whenever new journal arrive.

Observational drawing, a vital science/art skill, is a good activity to get students to do. Once again get then to draw an object ( kawakawa leaves are great) without instruction to assess their 'prior skill' and then instruct them to draw carefully, to go slow, and to take their time. The two efforts be compared and lessons drawn from the activity.If you are planning a small environmental study then this skill can be put to use. A 'mini study' of cicadas is one idea, or shells collected from the seashore during the holidays. Wild flowers, grasses or a flax study are possible studies.

A good idea for maths ( after you have surveyed their prior attitudes ) is to study what maths is and get them to research the history of number development through the ages. You could cover how different cultures have their own number system. Find out who developed the zero and why it is so important. It is important to humanize maths if all students are to gain a 'feeling for' the subject. Famous mathematicians can be researched. It pays to keep maths as applied as possible.

It might be useful to share with them the main ideas of each Learning Area covered in the New Zealand Curriculum if so make time to gain their collective 'prior ideas' first. The main ideas coud be copied into one of their books?

For writing,after you have assessed their handwriting abilities, it is fun for the class to research the development of writing from cave drawing to word processors. The history of writing ,and the various writing media, is a fascinating one.

One final thought.

All students buy a set of exercise books to begin the year. Some schools I know have reinvented these books as portfolios as they ought to show qualitative improvement (the Japanese call this continual small improvement 'kaizen'). The first days of school is the time to introduce students to this expectation. It is a good idea to introduce them to simple graphic presentation ideas. It is also a good idea to aim, by Easter, for all books to show improvement.In the schools that have developed their books as portfolios all books are sent home before parent interviews for their comments and later to discuss during interviews.

When a research study is undertaken students should be shown design or graphic 'scaffolds' to help them present their work. As with all 'scaffolds' it is important, that once in place, students be encouraged to show their individuality and creativity.

One you have thought out all the possibilities map out a programme for day one and week one. If you are in a proactive school your fellow team member will provide you with ideas to include.

Share your daily plan with the students at the beginning of the day. At the end of the day (and each activity) have reflective session to clarify what has been learnt. At the end of the day discuss with the class the three main things learnt during the day - their mothers will want to know!

Even if you don't use all the above suggestions they all remain available for later use. It is important to do fewer things well in depth.

The overall 'message' you want to leave with them is that you want them to do their best work - to aim for quality; you want then to to value their own 'voices', experiences, questions and ideas; and you want them to value their individuality and creativity. This is the essence of a learning community.

Best of all slowing their pace of work (many students will arrive with a 'first finished is best' attitude) will help you to get them to value perseverance and effort and to develop a concept of personal excellence.

Not a bad start.

Beginning the School Year :1

Beginning the school year - 'keeping the end in mind'.

If you want a book to inspire you to become aware of the possibilities of your environment this is the book for you.Ideal for any adult wanting to expand their awareness but for teachers a most valuable classroom resource. Full of practical ideas to use with your class to help them retain ( or regain) their natural curiosity. Very creatively and visually presented. A fun book. Not written by a curriculum consultant which makes it even more valuable.
Check link for more info.

Business philosopher Stephen Covey, in his book 'The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People', writes that it is important to ' keep the end in mind'. It is too easy to get bogged down in the present just trying to get through and in the process lose sight of the 'end in mind'.If this happens you can easily end up losing your way. As the saying goes, 'it is hard to remember you came to drain the swamp when you're up to your backside in crocodiles!'

So what is the end in mind for a teacher beginning the school year?

This ought to be defined by the agreed vision,values ( agreed behaviours) and teaching beliefs of the school. And if this is important, and not just rhetoric, then success ought to measured by achieving this vision. Of course this is rarely the case - schools are all too often concerned with the 'crocodiles' of day to day hassles. Tradition, or past unquestioned habits, seem to rule the minds of most schools. Just look how they apportion their time - it would seem few have escaped from the Victorian emphasis on the 'three Rs'.

So what would be the end in mind to keep in mind?

A good place to start would be the vision pages of the revised New Zealand Curriculum 2007.

Nothing should get in the way of NZC Vision of ensuring all students become 'confident life long learners' - or life long questioners and inquirers.

This means really focusing all teaching interactions on developing the 'key competencies' of the curriculum; learning to think, work with others, persevere and use every means to communicate effectively. Some call these 'habits of mind' (Art Costa) and others 'learning power ' ( Guy Claxton). Once it was just called 'learning to learn'!

To achieve 'confidence' and 'learning power' requires teachers make certain that what is studied is seen as real and relevant by learners.

Good advice is for teachers to to do fewer things well and to continually diagnose what each individual can do and, where there are gaps in skills or understanding, teaching the missing information.Positive attitudes for, or 'feelings for', the particular learning experience are the key to successful learning.

One key phrase in the NZC ( on the vision page and in the thinking competency) is for each student to be a 'seeker, user and creator of their own knowledge'. The teachers role is to ensure all students have the skills and attitudes to achieve such personal knowledge creation. The challenge for the teacher is to ensure all students develop 'feeling for' whatever they are learning. Successful teachers really care about what their students think and feel particularly those who have lost confidence in the ability to complete any task. Valuing each learner's 'voice', questions, and ideas is vital.

Such a vision is student or learning centred one in contrast to students simply asked to do what teachers expect of them. This doesn't mean letting students do what they like ; the teacher role is a very creative one.

Teachers need to negotiate with students to ensure empowerment or a sense of ownership and to hold students to completing what they have agreed to do.

This requires firmness and teacher artistry to assess what it is each learner is capable of and then ensuring students gain the skills to continually improve their personal best. As educationalist Jerome Bruner says, 'teaching is the canny art of intellectual temptation'.

Thankfully students are easily trapped by their innate curiosity if what is put in front of them appeals. The challenge for teachers is to think up ways to tap into this sense of curiosity in all learning areas.

With such a vision in mind teachers can slowly , as students develop skill, pass greater responsibility to their students..

When it seems difficult to negotiate learning then it is honest to say 'we just have to do this so lets do it'. With maths it is possible to develop relevant studies but when practice is required then just call it that, practice. Remind students that to do anything well you need to have the skills in place and that sometimes skill practice is important , but only to be able to get back to the real learning. Literacy blocks ( and maths where possible) ought to focus on providing the research skills necessary to undertake in depth inquiry studies.

The vision of the revised curriculum's is a personalised approach to learning - helping each learner at their point of need. Students will see the point of practicing learning missing skill if it helps then achieve the 'end they have in mind'.The whole purpose of education is to develop in every learner a powerful learning identity, a strong sense of self, of being a valued and worthwhile person. This involves the teacher really listening to their students and validating them.

A good idea is to start the year with a discussion with your class of what makes a powerful learner. Work through the introductory pages of the NZC with them and develop an image of a great class - a true learning community of inquirers 'hunting' for meaning in their tasks. Such a community requires rights and obligations (agreed behaviours) for both the teacher and the class members to hold themselves to.

'Their' powerful learning attributes ( 'merged' with the NZC 'key competencies') can then be referred to, as required, to ensure students keep the 'end in mind' and do not get lost in pointless ( to them) activities.

Keeping the 'end in mind' is valuable advice for both teacher and learners

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Education - still firmly stuck in the 20th C ( or 19th)!

This small picture book points out the futility of trying to 'tinker' education into the 21stC - after trying several well known reforms it suggests what is required is a total transformation - 'a new horse' ( in the book a car!) -  not improving a faulty/failing system.

The other day I was talking to a young teacher who was starting to think what she might do with her class when the term starts.

We had a good discussion but it was soon clear to me that the advice I wanted to give would clash with what it was expected she would have to do. There is not much room for my thoughts these days and so my decision to keep clear of schools a good one. All the more sensible as schools will increasingly focused  on collecting data to prove their students are achieving appropriate standards in literacy and numeracy -and all the intended , or unintended , consequences that will eventuate from such a reactionary approach.

Most of my difficulty revolves around school expectation for literacy and numeracy - areas that have been highlighted by political pressure the past decades particularly the National StandardsIn literacy and numeracy most teachers (and principals) have very traditional, hard to change,  views.

As a result, as one UK commentator has written , 'the evil twins of literacy and numeracy have all but gobbled up the entire curriculum'.

Until new perspectives are developed education change will remain 'tinkering'; 'reararnging the deck chairs on the Titanic to get a better view'. As business philosopher Peter Drucker says, 'every organisation has to abandon almost everything if they are to thrive in the future' , he also wrote that 'the first countries to develop a 21st C education system will win the future'. New Zealand had such an opportunity  with the , now sidelined, with the 2007  New Zealand Curriculum.

Back to the school scene.

The key question to consider is what is the purpose, or point of, school in the 21st C? What attitudes, competencies, attributes or dispositions will students need  to thrive? What aspects of schooling do we need to keep and what new thinking is required? The answers to all these questions are available - one only has to read Sir Ken Robinson, Guy Claxton, or any number of insightful educationalists.

All their advice is most ignored - the status quo has an amazing power to ignore the need for change. Throw in the fear of the unknown, the views of populist  politicians, and pressure from conservative elements in society, and it seems all but impossible.

So what can schools do?

First, for all teachers to believe all students can learn given the right opportunities, and  appropriate help. This requires a personalised approach to learning - an approach premised on students being helped to construct their own meaning through guided experiences.

For all students to succeed it is important to tap into  every students particular gifts and talents  and that a curriculum active realistic enquiry is the way to achieve this. In earlier days, before political ideology took control of curriculum, many teachers were moving towards a creative education system.

These beliefs applied to literacy ( I prefer language arts) are not that difficult.

The literacy programme needs to be focused on developing all the skills required for students to make sense of, or comprehend, the material they are exposed in their cross curriculum inquiries. Language activities simply need to be 're framed' and determined by need required to complete deep learning in other areas.

I personally would be careful of ability grouping ( mental apartheid) and would not countenance streaming students into various ability classes  - both are techniques of outdated educational thinking.  The second is destructive to purposeful integrated learning- the first reinforces unnecessary attitudes.

As the ideas above  are part of the mindsets of most schools my thoughts find no room to be developed.
If literacy seems possible to integrate, or 'reframe',  into a a talent based inquiry curriculum mathematics seems even  more traditional and  problematic. Most primary teachers are not confident in this area - they have inherited the negative attitudes from traditional ability grouped programmes they themselves experienced.

So 'reframing' maths seems a bigger challenge.

Ironically all the current thinking in mathematics is about developing maths in real contexts and there are resources available to assist once mindsets are changed.

How students see maths is important ( their prior views). To change minds students need to be helped to develop positive attitudes - given leadership most teachers would be able to think of lots of positive ideas. A piece of good advice is to tell students that when they are doing exploratory maths that this is 'real maths' and that when using texts or developing algorithms it is 'practice' maths. And, if this distinction is made, for teachers to relate as much maths as they can to their current  inquiry study, to inject maths into their studies,  or to develop rich mathematical themes. 'Real' maths requires students working in groups rather than as individuals which is current practice.

As students are involved in realistic literacy and mathematical situations teachers are continually diagnosing progress. Students with special needs can be brought together to be given focused assistance in missing skills so they can return to 'playing the maths game'.

It is my belief that once teachers develop answers to the purpose of school in the 21stC then they can develop programmes with their students to develop the appropriate literacy and numeracy programmes that contribute to the development of every students gifts and talents and  required dispositions and attitudes.

Trouble is today political pressure is being placed on schools pushing school to 'stick to riding horses' into the twenty first century.

No place for me in such a failing system.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Education to realize the talents of all - students and teachers.

This book by educational researcher Helen Timperley published 2011, is all about tapping the power of teachers to enable all students to succeed. It is about helping teachers learn rather than telling them what to do; about putting student learning at the heart of the educational process; about developing a explicit inquiry approach to learning for teachers, students and principals;  about engagement not compliance. It seems like common sense -  but well researched common sense.

It seems their is a new consensus emerging - one that places empowering teachers as central to educational change. For many Timperley's book simply confirms beliefs many of us have held for years -  that it is the teachers professionalism that counts.  Developing teacher capacity to make informed judgements using an inquiry learning model  has underpinned the writings of Gwen Gawith ( Action learning) and Dr John Edwards, David Perkins,  Guy Claxton, Dean Fink and, more recently, even Michael Fullan who now writes that creating conditions to develop teacher confidence and ability is the key rather than imposing national agendas.  For those with a longer memory the excellent research of the Learning In Science Project ( 1980s) fits in with this 'new' constructivist thinking an approcah that values the prior ideas of students but with  a greater emphasis on teachers' thinking.

Creative principals and teachers have aways believed this although Timperley's book certainly outlines the inquiry cycle in endless detail. It is a shame the government is not following this capacity building approach instead of their obsession with imposing National Standards. This is a book that sees teachers as reflective professional judging success by evidence  not technicians complying to top down demands.

I am sure this will be a popular book for principals who want to  develop 'their' schools as inquiry learning communities where 'self regulated learners'  are able to demonstrate 'deep learning'.

In the introduction the editors of the series write that  education's mission  is 'enable everyone, without exception, to develops all their talents to the full and to realize their creative potential'.

To me this is the point of a modern education system .

The editors write that education has not 'aways kept up with the times'  and 'still seems in the past century'.  They continue that 'tinkering around the endless will not help' and that 'a bold and imaginative re-orientation to educational purposes' is required ; 'about what education could be; not what it has been'.

Unless school leaders appreciate that current thinking is the problem, that there is a need for a 'step change' in professional development,  they will continue to be 'tinkering'.

The book challenges school leaders to develop the 'conditions teachers need to learn in order to make a difference' and that these conditions reflect those needed by their students.

The book is about how teachers learn and why certain approaches to professional development work - an approach valuing and  engaging teachers prior conceptions. It is about appreciating the importance  of what teachers think about their studentsabout teachers  believing all students can learn rather than having a fixed innate intelligence.

The book is premised on the need for teachers to be engaged actively in practical  activities rather than just sitting and receiving knowledge from those who claim to know more than the teachers themselves.

And that the key to any success is teachers seeing their students improve as a result of their actions

Such ideas challenge school leaders and learning facilitators to create the learning conditions to empower teachers and to ensure student progress results. 'For far too many teachers...staff development is a demeaning mind numbing process and they passively sit and git"'

The various chapters of the book outlines in detail an inquiry process that actively involves teachers and implications for school leadership.

The  teacher inquiry model and knowledge building cycle is as follows:

What knowledge and skills do students need to meet important goals.

What knowledge and skills do we as teachers need to meet the needs of their students.

Opportunities to deepen and refine professional skills.

Engaging students in new learning experiences.

Evaluating the impact of changed actions?

( As mentioned in the introduction the editors of the series write that  education's mission  is 'enable everyone, without exception, to develops all their talents to the full and to realize their creative potential'. Imagine if the inquiry learning cycle was based around teachers working to realize this?)

The book makes it clear that this inquiry mindset  is an ongoing iterative process  resulting , if successful, in adaptive practitioners who are aways on the alert for opportunities to improve their teaching. It is also a process that is the default mode that humans are born with and one that underpins scientific and artistic innovations - all forms of 'enlightened trial and error'.

The cycle begins and ends with students and is sited in the real life circumstances individual teachers work in . The process is highly dependent on teachers assessing what students already know and what they can do - their prior experiences, and what they need to do, and how will they know if successful.

The second part of the cycles is determining what teachers need to know and be able to do to ensure all students achieve identifiable success. Students success depends on what teachers  do.  Teacher skill is the single most important influence on students learning so deepening teacher professional knowledge is vital and this is best learned through the inquiry process by trying out and evaluating  new ideas.

It is obvious that the school leaders role is to ensure conditions are in place for teachers to learn and to challenge and support their teachers - teachers are, in this respect, the leaders class. And, as with any class, it is not possible to believe all teachers are equally skilled. And also, as with teacher, leaders cannot choose to work with only those willing if a difference is to be made for all teachers. No teacher can be 'let of the hook.'

The remainder of the book details the various stages and implications of the learning inquiry process.

If I have a criticism, in contrast to the fine words in the preface about developing full range of talents of all students most examples refer to literacy programmes and the author writes that  some feel ( as I do) that  'has been at the cost of a wider and richer curriculum'. It is obviously easier for schools to use fit for purpose assessments of literacy and numeracy but a 21stC education requires a broader view of learning.

One example I enjoyed was  how one secondary teacher developed new knowledge to deal with misbehaving students.Another excellent example was the outlining of the research of Russell Bishop's Kotahitanga research which  illustrated the importance of relationships and cultural differences - and the negative impact of deficit theories of learning.

My favourite example was that of a UK secondary school exploring the development of the six personal learning and thinking skills to develop students as 'independent inquirers, creative thinker, reflective learners, team workers, self managers and effective particpators', to ensure students were prepared for a more challenging curriculum. The staff at this school developed a set of indicators to be considered as evidence of students being more reflective and independent.

If I were a principal this would be the area I would want to develop, along with a focus on developing all students gifts and talents, as they reflect the essence of the 2007 New Zealand Curriculum.

The key to develop engaged learners requires a rich inquiry based programmes across the curriculum and it would be  shame to see inquiry cycles limited to literacy and numeracy.

The book discusses the value of outside catalysts  to bring in a 'new lens' and to challenge 'existing social norms where these norms are directed to reinforcing rather than challenging the status quo'. Respectful relationships (  'relational trust') are required in all situations to promote inquiry habits of mind throughout the school. The importance of coaching, scaffolding of help, that leaves responsibility with the teacher is also an issue.  This of course applies to teachers and their students as well as between leaders,  facilitators and teachers.

The inquiry approach, if implemented,  will uncover teacher beliefs that will be problematic particularly if teachers hold traditional transmission view, or beliefs about innate fixed ability in contrast to growth mindsets. To ensure success  prior views  of teacher must be valued - the evidence of student success needs to be seen as the final arbiter. Uncovering teacher views is vital for any development to occur or for conflicts to be revolved.

The importance of school wide coherence is important but the author writes it 'can conjure up images of alignment with everything looking the same....Coherence  in a learning system, in fact, requites high levels of energy and innovation with studnts'. 'In reality, if leader wish teachers to become responsive to students, then adaptations should be expected'. ' The question is not about faithful implementation - 'adaptive experts are disciplined innovators who monitor their effectiveness in terms of the engagements, learning and well being of all students in their care'.

Adaptive students, adaptive teachers and adaptive schools is  the point of powerful professional learning.To be successful requires the collective will of all involved.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Educational Quotes 9: Classroom Management

Creative classrooms need to be flexible enough for a wide range of individuals to feel at home, able to express their particular personalities , learning styles, and particular range of talents and gifts.

Creative class management is the art, or craft, of creating the conditions that provide students with enough security and structure for them to take the learning risks to  required to develop personalised learning. Too much chaos leads to disorder - too much structure reduces the learners ability to make decisions and choices. Most current classroom management procedures are determined by unquestioned routines and habits that reflect a past age.

'If there is any other situations fraught with danger for mental health as that of a class held rigid by fear, it is a class exposed to the anxieties engendered by unlimited freedom. There is nothing as terrifying to the immature human being as a completely unstructured situation. Without a recognisable structure they feel the teacher has abandoned them - and so he has- to their own impulses, all of which are by no means always constructive.' B Morris

'I would caution student teachers to always be flexible with kids, but not to leave them with no structure, because many times we are the only structure these kids have.' Kouzes and Postner

'It is significant to realise that the most creative environments in our society are not the ever-changing ones. The artist's studio, the researcher's laboratory, the scholar's library are each kept deliberately simple so as to support the complexities of the work in progress. They are deliberately kept predictable so the unpredictable can happen.' Lucy Calkins

'Without containment, spontaneity, exhalation and freedom of the mind could seep into license and anarchy, where all day has no shape. A benign routine helps our child to gain responsibility and our school to stability.' Sylvia Ashton Warner 76
'The word 'freedom' can never be uttered unless accompanied hand in hand with the word responsibility. It is kinder to keep the lid on the school for a start, lifting it little by little, simultaneously teaching responsibility, until the time comes when the lid can be cast entirely aside and only two conditions remain - freedom and responsibility'. Sylvia Ashton Warner

'Some classrooms are unintentionally uninviting' Harry Wong
'All battles are won before they start.' Sun Tzu
'The schools schedule is a series of units of time; the clock is king.' Theodore Sizer
'Children who grow up in ..situations that facilitate clarity of goals, feelings of control, concentration on the task at hand, intrinsic motivation, and challenge will generally have a better chance to order their lives so as to make flow possible.' Csikszentmihalyi
'Persons are not quite the same thing as solitary individuals, nor are they a crowd. Persons are living networks of biology and emotions and memories and relationships.' Tilby
'Half of what you will accomplish in a day will be determined before you leave home. Three quarters of what you achieve will be determined before you enter the classroom door' Harry Wong
' The number one problem in the classrooms is not discipline; it is lack of authentic learning tasks, procedures and routines' Harry Wong
'In an effective classroom students should not only know what they are doing, they should also know why and how'' Harry Wong
'Schools should look behind classroom doors and determine the factors that contribute to the kinds of interactions between teachers and students that promote student achievement.' Heckman 1990
'Some initial fuss reduces subsequent fuss: that some apparently complicated initial procedures actually simplify procedures in the long run; that formal routines free the teachers for closer relationships.' Michael Marland

'Today the evil twins of  literacy and numeracy have all but gobbled up the whole curriculum'. Anon

'The river flows at its own sweet will, but the flood is bound in the two banks. If it were not thus bound, its freedom would be wasted.' Vinoba Bhave,
Indian leader

Educational Quotes 8: Curriculum

Schools have been trying to implement impossible curriculums based on a technocratic accountability model. The future demands students who retain a love of learning - students with their talents, dreams and passions developed. To achieve these demands a new appreciation of what a curriculum for the future should be.
'If we don't encourage others to find their own meaning, their own voice, we will never be able to sustain our own. Freedom comes from following you own voice not following another's' Peter Block
'If we wish to present ourselves to the wider world as New Zealanders then we must be able to listen to our own voices, and trace our own footsteps; we must have our own heroes and heroines inspire us; we must persist with building our own culture with the ingredients close to hand and not import theses ingredients ready made from abroad'. The late Michael King NZ Historian
'There is, it seems, more concern about whether children learn the mechanics of reading and writing than grow to love reading and writing; learn about democracy than have practice in democracy; hear about knowledge... rather than gain experience in personally constructing knowledge... see the world narrowly, simple and ordered, rather than broad complex and uncertain'. Vitto Perrone, 'Letter to Teachers'
'Standardization, the great ally of mediocrity, wins out over imagination.' Sergiovanni
'There is something about the Procrustean bed about schools; some children are left disabled by being hacked about to fit the curriculum; some are stretched to take up the available space, others less malleable are labeled as having special educational needs.' Chris Bowring-Carr and John Burnham West
'The constant need to move on, and to document progress, in normal schools means that education tends to be cut up into bite sized task..' Guy Claxton in 'Wise -Up'
'Teaching is impossible. If we simply add together all that is expected of a typical teacher... the sum makes greater demands than any individual can possibly fulfill'. Lee Shulman Stanford Univ
'If the shoe doesn't fit, must we change the foot?' Gloria Steinem US Feminist
'Could it be that the current education reforms have not yet fully dealt with what teaching and learning are all about? In a word, yes.' Peyton Williams ASCD President 2003
'We must beware of needless innovation, especially when guided by logic.' Winston Churchill
'How many students ... were rendered callous to ideas, and how many lost the impetus to learn because of the way in which learning was experienced by them?' John Dewey
Many school focus too much on achievement... (they need) to create opportunities for young people develop their learning muscles and their learning stamina through working on real problems... to reflect on and manage their own learning.' Guy Claxton
'Do not teach too many subjects and what you teach, teach thoroughly.' Alfred North Whitehead
'You have to take enough time to get kids deeply involved in something they can think about in lots of different ways,' Howard Gardner
'The real process of education should be the process of learning to think through the application of real problems.' John Dewey
'All the arts are brothers, each one throwing a light unto the others.' Voltaire
'Knowledge is a polite word for dead but not buried imagination.' e e cummings us poet
'Just because some of us can read and write and do a little math, that does not mean we deserve to conquer the universe.' Kurt Vonnegut Jnr Author
'What we want to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child.' G B Shaw
'The first people had questions, and they were free. The second people had answers, and they became enslaved.' Wind Eagle American Indian Chief
'The problem is fundamental... It is as if a secret committee, now lost to history, has made a study of children and, having figured out what the greatest number were least disposed to declared that all of them should do it.' Tracey Kidder
'Everything depends on the quality of the experience which is had.' John Dewey
'The central problem of an education based on experience is to select the kind of present experiences that live fruitfully and creatively in subsequent experience.' John Dewey
'Of course schools should be accountable- but accountable for what?... I would like to see schools accountable for developing students who have a love of learning - who are continually growing in wisdom and in their ability to function effectively( and happily) in the world.' Judy Yero http://www.teachersmind.com/
'We must not entrust the future of our children to habit.' Judy Yero
.Be careful what you give children, for sooner or later you are sure to get it back.' Barbara Kingsolver
'A teacher cannot build a community of learners unless the voices and lives of the students are an integral part of the curriculum.' Peterson 94
'The curriculum is to be thought of in terms activity and experience rather than knowledge to be acquired and facts to be stored.' Haddow Report UK 1931
'The main function of the school... lies in offering opportunities and an environment in which a child can explore freely, along many lines, and create in many media. In doing he will utilize his natural instinctive energies in the acquiring of skills and the building of interests.' Froebel Publication 1949
'Much of the material presented in schools strikes students as alien, if not pointless.' Howard Gardner
'the intuitive, the expressive, the un-measurable, the intensely personal have never found a satisfactory place in the curriculum, in assessment, in the publics esteem.' Hedley Beare Prof of Educ Melbourne
( Because) it is the intellect which dominates schooling ... the specifically soul making subjects- literature, drama, music, the visual arts- are progressively 'de-souled' as the child progresses through school' Dr Bernie Neville Aust Educator
'how we picture ourselves, the language we use about ourselves and our family, the stories we tell about ourselves or which we allow others to tell, whom we compare ourselves with, what we think we will become, how we define our own universe, these are the raw material from which we spin our web of personal mythology'. Hedley Beare Aust Educator
'Teaching which ignores the realities of children will be rejected as surely as any graft which attempts to ignore the body's immune system.' Howard Gardner
'Treat people as if they were what they might be, and you will help them become capable of being.' Goethe
'We should train ourselves not to ask 'How intelligent he/she is?' but 'Which intelligence doe he/she have most of?.' Charles Handy
'Thinking precedes literacy and numeracy but nowhere in the curriculum is that recognized.' Mc Gavin, Glasgow University
'We have to... immerse ourselves in interactive, real life, complex experiences out of which we can process new lives' Caine and Caine 97
'We should see schools as safe arenas for experimenting with life, for discovering our talents... for taking responsibity for tasks and others people, for learning how to learn... and for exploring our beliefs about life and society.' Charles Handy
'Nature is one. It is not divided into physics, chemistry, quantum mechanics.' Albert Szent-Gyorgi

'The greatest unexplored territory in the world is the space between the ears.' Bill O'Brien CEO
' New technology is common, new thinking is rare.' Sir Peter Blake
'Youth is wholly experimental.' R L Stevenson
'Intellectual activity anywhere is the same whether at the frontier of knowledge or in a third grade classroom.' Jerome Bruner
'The whole process of education should be thus conceived as the process of learning to think through the solutions of real problems.' John Dewey
'If you can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.' Chinese proverb
'there can be no mental development without interest.' A N Whitehead
'He aha te mea nui o te ao?
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata'
'What is the most important thing in the world?
It is people, it is people , it is people.'  Maori saying

'Human beings are not machines. Human beings are complex adaptive systems living on the edge of the continuos ability to self-actualise. We are creative and in that creativity 'We can reinvent our own lives'. Maslow
'Our view of learning is much more like the learning of an artist or great scientist. The artist needs skills and tools....the artist armed with an idea...begins to create.. accompanied by many changes stops starts and erasers...they have a purpose that will lead somewhere that has meaning for the artist'Caine and Caine

Activity and reflection should complement and support each other. Action by itself is blind, reflection impotent.' Csikszentmihalyi

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