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Posts tagged ‘communication’

Interesting Reads

Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with ‘topics’ as country reforms its education system

“For years, Finland has been the by-word for a successful education system, perched at the top of international league tables for literacy and numeracy. Only far eastern countries such as Singapore and China outperform the Nordic nation in the influential Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings. Politicians and education experts from around the world – including the UK – have made pilgrimages to Helsinki in the hope of identifying and replicating the secret of its success.

Which makes it all the more remarkable that Finland is about to embark on one of the most radical education reform programmes ever undertaken by a nation state – scrapping traditional “teaching by subject” in favour of “teaching by topic” . . . ”

Don’t Become a Teacher, Advises Award-Winner Nancie Atwell    

nancie-atwell “An influential language arts teacher who recently won a $1 million international teaching prize has some surprising advice for young people considering joining the profession: Don’t.”

The 10 questions to ask before you start your one-to-one program

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Purposeful Schools by Ed Noot, Executive Director of the Society of Christian Schools in British Columbia

“Rohintin Mistry’s landmark novel, A Fine Balance, tells the story of four strangers thrust together who struggle to establish interpersonal equilibrium in the midst of social and political upheaval. The novel tells a compelling tale of survival in the midst of unspeakable hardship.

Christian schools also need to seek the fine balance, sometimes in the midst of hardship. This delicate equilibrium can be elusive. Our schools need to find balance in:

the desire for extensive educational programs/facilities and the need to keep tuition affordable
the desire for academic excellence and the need to care for and serve all of God’s children
the acquisition of skills and the fostering of imagination
competition and cooperation
Ministry curriculum and the biblical narrative
efficient governance and community orientation
covenantal faithfulness and evangelical opportunities
the list could go on …”

Owning Learning by Darren Spksma, Director of Learning at SCSBC

“If Christian schools are designed to assist parents in transforming image bearers into closer reflections of Christ, teachers must empower students to be active participants in reflecting on and consciously living with choice. For students and teachers alike, focusing on learning as a way of life, and being able to make choices in this area creates a sense of ownership. John Hattie, is his book Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning, shares results of an extensive study with evidence that concludes “that the greatest effects on student learning occur when teachers become learners of their own teaching, and when students become their own teachers.”2 A school seeking to fully realize its mission is one that ensures that teacher and student learning include opportunities for ownership and choice. . . . ”

Cultivating a Spirit of Celebration

“Celebration is to the culture of a school ‘what the movie is to the script, the concert to the score, and the dance is to the values that are difficult to express in any other way.’”[i]

We all know how important good communication is in a school community. And we know how difficult achieving it can be. We all have the stories. The authors of Learning by Doing suggest that one powerful tool for communication is often overlooked and underutilized. The tool? Celebration – regular public recognition.

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To celebrate is to extol, honor, commend, praise, show gratitude or appreciation, remember, or recognize through the use of rites or ceremonies, formal or informal, planned or spontaneous. Recognize comes from the Latin “to know again.” Public recognition reminds the learning community what they value. Engaging in joyful or playful or solemn celebrations has the potential of weaving members of the learning community together around shared purpose and growth toward fulfilling that purpose.

 

“When admiration and appreciation are repeatedly expressed, organizations create a culture of ongoing regard that sustains effort because such language is “like pumping oxygen into the system.”” [i]

 

What is celebrated is, in part, context specific. Each learning community must identify their values and common commitments and keep track of progress toward fulfilling them. Public recognition can be a powerful tool for marking and even making progress. Celebrating short-terms wins has the potential of undermining the resistors and “building momentum that turns neutral people into supporters and reluctant supporters into active helpers.”[iii]

Actions, practices, or behaviors related to common commitments regarding student learning should be the primary focus of celebrations. To be effective, it is important to make a clear link between the act of recognizing and what is being recognized. Generic praise is an ineffective communication tool. While there may be appropriate times to recognize individuals, where possible, that individual’s contributions should be linked to team efforts. The learning that we are most concerned with is that of the young people in our learning spaces, but teachers need to be continuous learners as well in order to facilitate student growth. When we celebrate teacher learning it should always be linked to its contribution to student learning.

While school leaders may take the lead in creating space for celebration, they should not be the only ones deciding what to recognize. A positive impact on student growth is the responsibility of the whole community so the whole community should be alert to recognizing and identifying those practices, actions or behaviors that contribute to student growth. Celebration is the responsibility of every member of the learning community.

The ways we can celebrate are only limited by our collective imagination. The point is to keep purpose in mind and to be intentional. Everyone may agree that celebrating is an important tool in building and sustaining a collaborative culture, but it will likely not become an integral part of the way the community works together without a plan. Learning communities need to be intentional about creating space for regular celebrations.

 

[i] Terrence Deal and Allen Kennedy in Corporate Cultures quoted in “Encouraging a Spirit of Celebration” in “The Learning System” NSDC Vol. 3, No. 8, May 2008, p. 5.

[ii] Kegan & Lahey, 2001, p. 102 as quoted in Learning by doing: a handbook for professional communities at work 2nd edition. Solution Tree Press:Bloominton, IN. P. 37

[iii] Kotter, J. “The eight step process.” quoted in Tools for learning schools, p. 3. Fall 2013, Vol 17, No. 1 Learning Forward: Oxford, OH.

 

Sources used:

Armstrong, A. “Celebrate professional transitions and successes to drive and sustain implementation” in Tools for learning schools. Fall 2013. Vol.17, No. 1. Learning Forward:Oxford, OH.

DuFour, R.,DuFour, R.,Eaker, R. & Many, T. Learning by doing: a handbook for professional communities at work 2nd edition. Solution Tree Press:Bloominton, IN. P. 37-41.

“Encouraging a Spirit of Celebration” in The Learning System. Vol. 3, No. 8, May 2008, p. 5. NSDC :Oxford, OH. P. 4-5.

 

elaine brouwer, alta vista

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