Also on: Read Write Collect
We can’t talk about improved learning without considering the impact on teacher wellness.
We are confronted by the complicated/complex division everyday in education. Do I want to know if a medical students has remembered the nine steps of a process of inquiry to work with a patient or do I want to know if they built a good raport? How often do we choose the thing that is easier to measure… simply because we can verify that our grading is ‘fair’. How often do we get caught in conversations around how ‘rigourous’ an assessment is when what we really mean is ‘how easy is it to defend to a parent who’s going to complain about a child’s grade’.
In a system cut to the bone, gaining access to the support we had been promised for our daughter’s special educational needs was an exhausting, soul-sapping battle.
At the end of a day in this terrifying place, Alice got home hyperactive, angry and frustrated. In addition to the head tics, she now suffered from severe stomach pains and dizziness. Her disquiet would peak before bed. Aged 13, she still needed one of us to lie with her, soothing and calming her, before she eventually dropped off (also aided by melatonin).
One of the things that stood out was the blur between private and public connected with the privatization of government contracts:
Following an assessment in November 2013, we received a letter from Virgin Care. We found it baffling. It read: “As Alice’s language skills are delayed but in line with each other, her needs can be best met within the school environment and her case is now closed.”
My wife attempted to translate for me: Alice was significantly behind in her cognitive development. Not only did this diagnosis feel incorrect, but also, for reasons that were never fully explained, it absolved Virgin Care of any duty of care and handed the responsibility over to Alice’s school. This seemed utterly ridiculous, not least because the letter then detailed all the specialist strategies that Alice’s teaching assistant was obliged to deliver.
Pisa, Whitehall and Ofsted are obsessed with maths not because algebra is the key to happiness, or geometry to great riches, but because it is easy to score globally. Bereft of an ideal of a good education, government, and especially central government, likes anything that yields mass data. It holds the key to control, to the regime of rewards and penalties that underpins modern administration and its funding.
Along with phrases appropriated directly from the so-called alt-right, a small group of neotraditionalist educators have invented the concept of ‘school shaming’ to make their reactionary politics seem, well, less reactionary. Criticize a school for how it treats students, and you’re ‘school shaming’. Talk about structural racism and curriculum, and you’re playing ‘identity politics’. Oppose calls to shore up the authority of teachers in the face of supposedly out-of-control youth, and you’re ‘virtue-signalling’.
Masking the real history of high school in America also helps the DeVoses of the world obscure legitimate problems the education system has always faced—problems that have been deliberately created and maintained. Funding inequality and racial segregation are rarely the focus of these sorts of stories about an ever-unchanging educational system. The dominant narrative instead tends to point to teachers or curricula, or even bells and early start times, as the reason schools are “broken” and that students aren’t being adequately prepared for the future.
What makes us good teachers isn’t the school’s or the system’s expectations of us. It is our expectations of ourselves.
The value we provide is in the classroom, in our collaborations with colleagues, and in what we do for our students and communities. It will never be on the lesson plan, in our performance management, or in justifying ourselves to superiors.
We all have our DBS certificates. It’s high time we de-bullshited our education system. And Damian Hinds and his ilk had better muck in, lest they finally convince us that being a politician is the ultimate bullshit job, and the only non-bullshit job left in education is supply teaching.
I do believe that educators need to continually kickback at the notion that students are customers because it fundamentally changes the nature of our relationship, boiling it down to dollars and sense. Getting a post-secondary education isn’t like buying a new car. Deep learning has to be driven by something other than economics and the more the language of consumerism seeps into our conversations, the more education adopts values that mimic the market. And we are not the market.
Schools and teachers can play a part in what kinds of behaviours and successes are normalised and rewarded within the school environment. Those working in schools can ask themselves questions about how gender is normalised. Are boys encouraged to be alpha competitors or are quieter achievement and ways of being also noticed and rewarded? Is the catchphrase ‘boys will be boys’ or ‘he was just joking’ used to dismiss put-downs of others or the objectification of women? Is strength and success measured by sporting prowess and outward expressions of courage or by a range of possible successes in multiple arenas? What does ‘courage’ mean to the school community? Are multiple ways of ‘being a man’ celebrated and held up as exemplars?
The Morrison government has threatened to withhold billions of dollars of funding earmarked for Australian public and private schools next year if states refuse to sign up to its new education funding deal.
“If Mr Tehan were serious about education, he would work with states and territories to provide fair funding for every child rather than come up with solutions that pit one sector against the other.”
This feels like Groundhog Day. I am a little sick of the politics associated with state education. The way this is going I might threaten to vote Labor in the next election 🤷♂️
The tech elite now making a power-grab for public education probably has little to fear from FBI warnings about education technology. The FBI is primarily concerned with potentially malicious uses of sensitive student information by cybercriminals. There’s nothing criminal about creating Montessori-inspired preschool networks, using ClassDojo as a vehicle to build a liberal society, reimagining high school as personalized learning, or reshaping universities as AI-enhanced factories for producing labour market outcomes–unless you consider all of this a kind of theft of public education for private commercial advantage and influence.
The Textbook or a Problem to Solve
In 1920, Sister Domatilla published the results of her experiments with a new kind of pedagogy called ‘the project method’. Writing in The American Journal of Nursing, she explains her concern that “old methods of teaching” do not give students “a genu…
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When you don’t have the Physical space for innovation, the process takes longer. This might be true because there is less visibility of ideas and progress, fewer opportunities for working collaboratively and poorer communication between teams.
If our Cognitive space is crowded and overwhelming us, we will likely only engage at the surface level. The commitment to the work will probably wain over time as other competing agendas and projects take their toll. Mental energy is limited.
Time is a crucial ingredient for any creative or innovation work. Without enough quality time, ideas might become less ambitious and revert to safe bets.
Without the Emotional commitment to the work, we get projects that fizzle out. We don’t see the connection to the broader purpose and start to reduce our energy and effort as the drive is not there. Fighting our neurobiology is futile.
If we are trying to innovate without Agency in a culture that historically moderates heavily from the top-down, it creates apathy. Why bother getting invested in innovation when nothing changes? Why should we care when the decision is out of our hands?
Interested in making the internet and your preexisting website your personal/professional social media platform? Here are some of my favorite examples:
Greg McVerry, W. Ian O’Byrne, Kimberly Hirsch, Kathleen Fitzgerald, John Johnston, Aaron Davis, Cathie LeBlanc, and Dan Cohen
When I think about the teachers my daughter has had, there are a number of things that have stood out? For me, it has been relationships and a focus on strengths.
Originally posted at Read Write Collect
“The kids are unaware of the huge digital footprint that their parents have signed them up for.”
Dan Stratford framed the day explaining that Google’s current push is not necessarily about technology, but rather the development of cultures of change and having meaningful impact. This is all a part of Project Culture Shift, the push to encourage people to learn from failure and success in the development of solutions. It is intriguing to consider this from a policy perspective (read chapter four of Ben Williamson’s book Big Data in Education). Also the reference to ‘impact’ always seems so intertwined with the work of John Hattie and Visible Learning.
The session digging further into cultural change was facilitated by the O’Briant Group. The initial conversation was about what actually constitutes ‘culture’. It was suggested that we make our culture each and every day. Chris Betcher argued that it was:
The things that you don’t need to talk about.
We then did a few activities including using our ‘superpowers’ to frame culture of our table group.
— Martin McGauran (@ict_edu) August 25, 2018
— Martin McGauran (@ict_edu) August 25, 2018
What these two activities were designed to do was to highlight the way that culture can be developed through the way we do things and with this the stories that we tell. One of the problems is that we can talk all day, the challenge is start from a central story.
Another part of culture are our everyday rituals and routines. Through our rituals and routines we create our daily experience. For me this is pumping Disney ballads in the car while driving the girls to school each day.
Thinking about rituals and routines from an organisational perspective, some that were raised included: marking the roll (daily), staff meetings (weekly) and report writing (yearly)
Taking a different tact, the focus turned to the four foundations at the heart of change and innovation:
- Curiosity (Wonder, Experiment, Play)
- Agency (Own, Initiate, Problem-Solve and Create)
- Collaboration (connect, synergise, share, cross-pollinate)
- Risk-taking (Dream big, reach, experiment and try)
Beyond these four, it was stated that innovation cannot thrive without a foundation of psychological safety. More often than not success and failure comes back to ‘safety’.
In a team with high psychological safety, teammates feel safe to take risks around their team members. They feel confident that no one on the team will embarrass or punish anyone else for admitting a mistake, asking a question, or offering a new idea.source
Some other characteristics that support change include fallible authority where we are all ‘experts’ but we can all make mistakes. Also stepping back to give a chance for somebody else to move forward.
The day was also broken up with a range of lightening pitches, which included Emil Zankov’s wondering about the next step with Chromebooks (NAPLAN) and Michael Ha’s idea of 365 days of inspiring teachers from around the world (sign up here).
The day ended with a series of Sparktalks. I presented one on the Modern Learning Canvas:
- Double click with the Ctrl key held down to fill down something like an identifier.
- Powertools add-on to breakdown the splitting process.
- Pivot Tables as a means of asking questions of data.