Bookmarked This Is The Time – Ideas and Thoughts

School systems are looking for ways to replicate the simplest and most basic level of education that is centred around sheer content delivery. I don’t intend to chastise anyone for this approach, but it reflects a rather a limited view of both technology and education; it’s a futile attempt to uphold pre-existing structures of teaching and learning. Online learning, while in existence for decades, is a brand new practice for the majority of classroom teachers. I would venture to guess that far fewer than half of all teachers have dabbled in creating any kind of online or even blended learning environment. There are many unique affordances with learning online but indeed we will recognize the downsides.

Dean Shareski suggests that with the current crisis providing an opportunity to change how we do school, it is time to:

  • Explore the advantages and disadvantages of learning online
  • Understand the power of technology
  • Foster community
  • Explore joyful learning
  • Begin to address issues of equity.
  • Give up control and embrace personal learning
  • Rethink assessment
  • Extend Grace
  • Prioritise well-being above all else

This is a similar sentiment put forward by Gary Stager:

So, there is reason to celebrate (briefly), but then you must act! Use this time to remake schooling in a way that’s more humane, creative, meaningful, and learner-centered. This is your moment!

In the absence of compelling models of what’s possible, the forces of darkness will fill the void. Each of us needs to create models of possibility.

Whatever model is proposed, Mal Lee suggests that we need to assume that students will attend a physical space at regular times.

Work on the reality that society will expect the kids to go school, and return home at a set time each day, five days a week, for X days of the year, and break for holidays in the same weeks each year.

Bookmarked Corona Virus, Schools and the Window of Opportunity | The Digital Evolution of Schooling

Work on the reality that society will expect the kids to go school, and return home at a set time each day, five days a week, for X days of the year, and break for holidays in the same weeks each year.

And just maybe some of the opportunities opened by the pandemic will be realised.

Mal Lee discusses the reality that has come apparent through the current crisis, that parents and society expect students to go to school.

What is now patently obvious from the pandemic experience is that physical attendance at a physical place school must be core to schooling forever.

Change therefore needs to be within this contraint.

Liked The Parent Opportunity – Will Richardson (Will Richardson)

Now is the time to get meta with parents, students, and teachers about learning. And we can do it in the service of learning about learning. Whether through survey or live Zoom discussions or email or whatever else, right now is when we need to be asking these questions and engaging in these conversations:

  • When is your child most engaged with their online school experience? Why? What drives that engagement?
  • When is your child bored or disengaged? Why?
  • When do your children feel joy in learning? What circumstances lead to that?
  • What are you learning about your children during this experience? How does that learning happen?
  • How are your children’s learning skills improving during this time? What’s changing about them as learners?

I’m sure there are others, and we can vary them for the audience, but you get the idea. We can collect and share these answers at the appropriate time as a way of sparking a larger conversation about what learning really is, what aspects of school really aren’t working, and how we can bring more joy and love of learning to “real” school moving forward. And it would be a spark built on our personal, collective experience as qualitative researchers asking relevant, important questions about our kids.

Bookmarked ‘We Did Vocabulary Last Year’ (The Confident Teacher)

I often pose these following questions when I do vocabulary training as a starter for potential ‘leading indictors’ of changing practice in the classroom:

  • Are there more detailed and ‘academic’ pupil explanations?
  • Is there more extended dialogue?
  • Are there more questions about vocabulary?
  • Are there more examples of ‘word consciousness’?
  • Are there more vocabulary edits in pupils’ books?
  • Is the written expression in pupils’ books more sophisticated?
  • Are there more teacher questions about vocabulary knowledge?
  • Is there a ‘word rich’ climate in the classroom?
Alex Quigley discusses the process of educational change and challenging of improving overall practice, rather than proving another practice in isolation.
Bookmarked School as Fiction – Will Richardson (Will Richardson)

Acknowledging that schools are in reality a “fiction” or a social construct is the first step in creating a more just and effective experience for students.

Will Richardson has returned to blogging with a vengeance. In this post he builds on Yuval Noah Harari’s notion of ‘money as fiction‘ to argue that maybe school is a fiction.

The idea of schools as “fictions” is bracing at first. But if you flip the idea over a few times, less so. The narrative of schooling runs deep, but it is simply that: a narrative.

According to RIchardson, this fiction covers up “our greatest unpleasant truth that schools are not really built for learning.”

He then turns to a paper by David Labaree exploring the competing purposes of education in the United States:

Labaree’s thesis is this: we may say that we want great schools because they are a public good, because (as I said above) they serve the purpose of preparing children to live in a democracy and to hopefully improve society. But what we truly value in schools in the private good they offer in terms of promoting privilege and the current meritocracy, and in the assumed role of providing access to “a better life.”

We choose to build our narrative of schooling around the “private good” of schools and education in order to maintain access to social standing and individual opportunity, rather than as a “public good” which emphasizes citizenship and civic mindedness at its core.

In response to all this, Richardson argues that we need to reclaim the narrative around education.

It is interesting to compare Richardson’s discussions about purpose and learning with Gert Biesta’s exploration of what makes a good education, especially in regards to learnification.

Bookmarked REVIEW OF THE MELBOURNE DECLARATION – Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration (Educational Council)

Education Ministers have agreed a new national declaration on education goals for all Australians. Known as the Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration (the Declaration), it sets out the national vision for education and the commitment of Australian Governments to improving educational outcomes.

Mparntwe (pronounced M-ban tua) is the Arrernte name for Alice Springs. The Aboriginal Arrernte (pronounced arrunda) people are the traditional custodians of Alice Springs and the surrounding region.

The Australian Government has released a review of the Melbourne Declaration, published over ten years ago, it is titled Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration. It includes two goals: to promote excellence and equity, as well as supporting students to become confident, creative, life-long learners within the community. There are a number of commitments that have been agreed upon to support these goals, such as developing stronger partnerships, building foundational skills, providing more pathways and strengthening the responsibility mechanisms for students at risk. The document itself can be found here.

It will be interesting to see how this is interpreted and integrated, especially with the current push for a ‘back to basics‘ curriculum. It is also interesting to read some of these ideas alongside the arguments against American system. (Listen for example The Daily’s episode on America’s Education Problem.)

Replied to 2020 – The Year of the Radical Instructional Designer – Etale – Exploring Futures & Innovations in Education with Bernard Bull

Even so, it is still too limiting for me and it is why I identify as a designer more than an instructional designer. There is just too much philosophical and ideological baggage associated with the phrase, even with the word “instructional.” I will hesitantly reference instructional design, but I much prefer to think more broadly. In that sense, I offer an alternative definition for the radical instructional designer as ”a person who builds upon deep beliefs and values while contributing to the creation of learning experiences, environments, solutions, possibilities, frameworks, models, tools, and systems.

I like your point about values Bernard. Too often what we value is left silent to what we expect to happen. This is what I liked about the Modern Learning Canvas. By giving a place for ‘pedagogical beliefs’ next to ‘outcomes’, the canvas helps to place everything in perspective.
Replied to What if These 50+ Activities Made Up 90% of Every School Day? – Etale – Exploring Futures & Innovations in Education with Bernard Bull

I envision learning environments where one or more of the following 50+ items make up the bulk of every school day. I see schools where learning is rich, inspiring, meaningful, and transformational; and where the dragons of tests and grades no longer demand fear and submission. I envision a learning environment that is deeply human and humane, one that is responsive to the needs, callings, passions, proclivities, perspectives, and voices of all learners.

With such an extensive list Bernard, I wonder if there is a corresponding list of items that should not be taking up 90% of our time?
Liked Steve Jobs, Success and P2P @stluke’s by gregmiller68

About 2 weeks ago, like all schools, St Luke’s staff were right in the middle of reports, maintaining high standards for the remainder of the 2019 school year and, with ongoing employment of 30 staff for next year, even looking ahead to 2020.
At the same time, I read an article penned by Steve Jobs, after which, I shared an email with staff. It appears below.

Replied to Innovation in schools (the édu flâneuse)

For me, innovation in education is about interrogating where voice, power and agency reside. It is worth asking: who has power and influence? Who has control of measures, expectations, systems, norms and processes? Who has autonomy, voice and ownership? And what can we each do, now, that is productive and meaningful for our students?

Deborah, I really like your discussion of innovation and ecosystems:

An ecosystem is a complex community of interconnected organisms in which each part, no matter how seemingly small, has an active, agentic part to play in the community. There are constant interdependent relationships and influences. The notion of an ecosystem of education resonates with Bob Garmston and Bruce Wellman’s third Adaptive Schools underlying principle of what they call ‘nonlinear dynamical’ systems: that tiny events create major disturbances. This principle reflects the way change often happens. The little things we change or do can have unexpected, chaotic, incremental effects that are difficult to quantify or not immediately noticeable.

Working as one of those ‘little things’ that come into the school it can be easy to bring in a script when arriving at a new school. The problem is that each school is made up of many other ‘little things’. I have therefore found it more useful to gauge as much about the school’s context as quickly as possible and then re-framing my message to fit.

Tom Critchlow describes this as ‘client ethnographies‘:

Every time you’re on-site with a client’s organization you’re studying the people, the behaviours, the motivations. You’re asking questions of as many people as you can.

While Doug Belshaw talks about the dangers of dead metaphors and failed frameworks:

So although it takes time, effort, and resources, you’ve got to put in the hard yards to see an innovation through all three of those stages outlined by Jisc. Although the temptation is to nail things down initially, the opposite is actually the best way forward. Take people on a journey and get them to invest in what’s at stake. Embrace the ambiguity.

Although it can be a challenge to find the time and resources, without it change is often frustrating to say the least.

Replied to How to Innovate: Ask Forgiveness, Not Permission – Joel Speranza (Joel Speranza)

A few years ago now, I decided I wanted to trying doing a kind “flipped learning thing with videos”. I didn’t really tell anyone about it, maybe because I was a bit shy about the whole thing. But I filmed a few videos, I uploaded them to youtube and shared them to my students. The impact was immediate. Students loved, parents loved and my bosses loved it!

Another great share Joel, thank you. This is an interesting to compare with Adrian Camm’sPermission to Innovate‘. Maybe what you are offering is an informal permission to innovate?

I still wonder how this fits with wider school change? In particular, I am reminded of Dave Cormier’s concern over the champion of change and the focus on the complicated over the complex.

Replied to Sfumato in education

I think there are many ‘hard lines’ in education that should be blurred, softer, and less definitive.

Where would you add a little sfumato in education?

One area that I think would warrant from a little softness is timetables. Although I read about examples where schools manage to break the rigid constructs, sadly this is often the exception.
Replied to 2 Uncomfortable High School Truths (EDUWELLS)

The system is so fixed, most students understand the sort of success they are likely to aim for and achieve before they start based on their home life relative to others around them. Killing time always becomes a priority over using it.  It really is time to align school systems with the increasing control young people have in their personal lives. My question is how long do they have to wait?

This is another great reflection Richard. I was left think recently about home life and the anti-library. Although books around the home may not equal reading, it at least says reading books is a good thing.

In regards to students being glad to waste away time at school – a feeling I have experienced teaching numerous electives in the past. Do you think that it is realistic to believe or hope for an environment where students do not celebrate such waste or is this just a part of being a teenager?

Replied to Maintaining Innovation – Ideas and Thoughts

When I look around, the vast majority of people are maintaining. How wonderful to know that someone is working to keep the lights on. Congratulations if you’ve “innovated” and changed your mindset and practice. That’s great. But if the change you made is so great, I’m guessing you’re working on how you maintain it. If not, then perhaps your just seeking the rush of “new” and are forgetting the value of “old”. So I wonder what we can do to celebrate and honor the maintainers? How do we continue the conversation and shift to empowerment that still values maintaining and sustaining many of the existing constructs of life? If you’re a high school student does your school suggest you find a job that maintains? While we may have continued work to do, I would be thrilled if more schools would take pride in the innovations they’ve achieved and now spend more time and energy in maintaining.

Another thought provoking post Dean.

To be honest, I have been struggling with the idea of ‘maintaining’ of late (although I had never actually thought of it like that.) My current role started life as a ‘transformation coach’. I was going to work with school leaders to identify learning opportunities associated with our technological solution and support them with implementing this. Based on where the project has ebbed and flowed, I have now ended up supporting timetabling and reporting.

A lot of things that I read would say that I should leave, go find something that drives me or something like that. The problem with this is that so much of the ‘innovation’ that occurs in the system that I am in depends on certain foundations around things like timetabling and attendance being in place. It is not the most exciting work, but it is still ‘real’ work. As I recently pondered:

The work that I do has many focuses. Sometimes it is about supporting simple transactions, other times it is about everyday efficiencies. Sometimes it is about helping schools reflect upon particular workflows to ease their workload, other times it is about improving a process, such as the creation of timetables. All of this though is real work that has some sort of impact on student learning in the end.

I am reminded of your questions about ‘revolutions‘ from a few years ago and the belief that sometimes we need to focus on strengths. I sometimes think that the notion of innovation haunts like spectre and that sometimes the best thing we can do is support and encourage each other.

Also on: Read Write Collect

Bookmarked School Growth: Small Changes Lead to BIG Impact by Chris Wejr

Too often in my career, I have seen schools, districts, and provinces make huge changes without really knowing if they will be successful. When we make large changes, we take big risks as these changes require so much capital (funds, time, resources, etc) and if we do not achieve the intended outcomes, it is a big loss for all those involved. Learning Sprints allows us to bring in evidence-based practice for a short cycle to determine if it has a positive impact in our context. If it doesn’t work with our context, it is not a significant loss and we can pivot or reset to take a different path to support teacher growth and student learning. By making these small changes, over time, we begin to see big results… and a significant impact on school growth.

Chris Wejr reflects on his experiences of using learning sprints as a means of making small and meaningful impact.
Bookmarked School Growth: Building on Strengths by Chris Wejr

Considering the success of self-regulation as a focus, could we now try to maintain that self-reg culture while shifting the focus to growth in reading?  He agreed that there had been an awesome success with self-reg and that we had a strong platform of literacy (especially reading) that we could build on.  With Mark’s positive experience with reading instruction and self-regulation, along with his strong relationships with staff, he could help lead us to shift from a focus on self-reg to a focus on reading.

Chris Wejr discusses the way in which his staff have extended the focus of self-regulation and strength-based learning into the area of reading achievement. He discusses some of the strategies that they have used to support and encourage this, such as Strong staff collaboration and ongoing professional development. In some ways, this reminds me of the work that I was a part of using disciplined collaboration as the framework.
Replied to Success indicators of a professional learning model (the édu flâneuse)

I have been reflecting lately on measures of success of this model. How might we know that our approach to internal professional learning is having a positive impact? As part of the model’s implementation, we generate ongoing honest feedback from staff in order to refine the model each year, including via focus groups and anonymous surveys. For instance, in the annual staff survey, the pathway options, especially the Professional Learning Groups, were rated highly by staff. Additionally, our staff satisfaction with professional learning is above the national benchmark.

Great to hear how you have distributed the leadership for the different groups. Look forward to reading the book Deb.
Bookmarked School improvement: Sowing the seeds of success (Australian Council for Educational Research – ACER)

Work in schools long enough and we all get to know the bitter experience of a good idea poorly executed. So, what makes the difference between good implementati

Tanya Vaughan, Jason Borton and Jonathan Sharples provide a case study of educational change across three years. They provide a number of steps:

  • Taking a long-term approach: Treat implementation as a process, not an event; plan and execute it in stages.
  • Giving it the best chance to succeed: Create a leadership environment and school climate that is conducive to good implementation.
  • Starting with your own context: Define the problem you want to solve and identify appropriate programs or practices to implement.
  • Ensuring a smooth implementation: Create a clear implementation plan, judge the readiness of the school to deliver that plan, then prepare staff and resources.
  • Ensuring a smooth implementation: Create a clear implementation plan, judge the readiness of the school to deliver that plan, then prepare staff and resources.
  • Looking to the future: Plan for sustaining and scaling an intervention from the outset and continuously acknowledge and nurture its use.

This example of science is interesting to consider alongside my discussion of supporting technology.

Replied to Live the Mission – Will Richardson (Will Richardson)

Just having a clear mission isn’t enough; that mission must drive the work in every part of the school down to the support staff, maintenance crew, bus drivers, and cafeteria workers.

We often talk about ‘moonshots’ but the problem is that this was a mission that captured a nation. Is it possible to have such a mission at a school level that also captures all the external pressures that exist within the system?