A couple of days ago I did a "lazy Sunday" post – but shared a poem from the guys at the 21st Century Fluency Project (Ian, Andrew and Lee). The poem clearly touched a nerve with many of you and showed me just how much we educators value allthingseducation – and “the need for change”.
Archive for December, 2011|Monthly archive page
I know, I know…so many of you have had just about enough of 21st Century “this” and 21st Century “that”!
But, we do have to finish the series of guest-post from Lee Crockett, Ian Jukes and Andrew Churches before the end of the year – and you know that they really do “walk-their-talk” with everything 21st Century and allthingsFLUENCY.
This is the final post in the serialisation of Literacy is NOT Enough – and perhaps the most important…
If you remember (from the last post – Stop Talking, Start DOING!), the guys told us that Chapter 11 is really the “guts” of the book – as they walk us through the process of developing scenarios and provide us with samples and templates of the unit plans they have created for their great 21st Century Fluency Kits.
Now, obviously I cannot post the whole chapter – but you’ll be glad to hear that the guys promise me that the public beta version of their “curriculum integration kits” will be up on the website very soon. These “kits” will give you full details on the types of lessons, processes and rubrix you can create to build lessons that really encourage your learners to flourish in all the fluency areas we have been talkıng about.
So, while we wait for them to appear on the site, here’s the latest post from Andrew, Ian and Lee – outlining the critical starting point; Crafting Scenarios.
In the 21st-century classroom, the instructional model shifts. The teacher is no longer the focal point of the classroom. Instead, students work in groups to create real-world solutions to real-world problems. Embedded within these problems are the curricular objectives.
The teacher now takes on a new role as the facilitator of learning, presenting scenarios outlining real-world problems that are relevant to students and simultaneously aligned with curricular goals.
There are endless possibilities for crafting scenarios. At first, it may seem to be an overwhelming task, but rest assured that after you go through the process a few times, cultivating scenarios will become easier and you will be begin to see connections between the content that needs to be covered and everyday life experiences. One teacher shared this story with us:
I was standing in line at the coffee shop. I was looking around, mindlessly waiting for my turn, when I saw the barista take a paper cup off the big stack by the espresso machine. Instantly, this idea for a whole unit jumped into my head about sustainability. I started typing madly on my phone to try and capture some of the details.
Suddenly I was at the counter with the huge line behind me. I asked the person taking my order to just hang on for a second while I finished my thought; then I let the person behind me go ahead. I realized it looked ridiculous. I looked like one of my students that I roll my eyes at. ,What’s happened to me? I’ve turned into a thumbster teenager!
Start With the Curriculum
Our entire educational system is built on standards. There is no getting away from the defined curriculum. Standards vary from state to state and country to country, but it makes no difference if your district has its own or aligns to the Common Core standards; you are still accountable for the curriculum. So the curriculum is an excellent place to start.
Select a single curricular objective. From that one objective, identify the specific skills or content that the students need to master. It is critical from the outset to remember that if we want to develop independent, lifelong learners, our intention must be to shift the burden of responsibility for learning from the teacher, where it has traditionally been, to the learner, where it truly belongs.
It is the students’ job to learn the curriculum. The teacher’s job is to guide them in that process, provide support, and develop a structure in which they can grow.
What Would Be Relevant – in Context, or Applicable to Your Students’ Lives?
The best place to start crafting a scenario is to ask yourself where your students may come across this information or this skill in their lives outside of school. If it’s something they’ll come across in their own world, then instantly there is a connection that brings relevance and context to the learner. If nothing immediately comes to mind, try to identify the kinds of tasks that students would be performing when they applied these skills or used this knowledge, and consider how using this content could be made compelling for students.
At this point, many people start to think vocationally and consider professions that would involve this particular skill or knowledge. While that can be useful, this approach is often quickly discarded by students.
Although we don’t want teachers to discount situations in which people may predictably come across this type of challenge as part of their occupation, we should also work to identify occupations and skills that include unpredictable circumstances. For example, if a nutritionist needs to use specific technical information related to a dietary matter and a student has no interest in becoming a nutritionist, the student will quickly disconnect from this information. In other words, there will be no personal relevance to the learner. Relevance must always be the top consideration in developing scenarios for learning to occur.
When using vocational examples, you have to ensure that there is relevance to the students. For example, what if a nutritionist was a consultant for your school’s football team, helping the team members to fine-tune their healthy eating habits in hopes of helping them win the state championship? If your school is big on football, this might be something students could relate to. Better still, maybe this actually is a real-world example and the football team is involved. Perhaps the problem could be tied to specific players. Maybe the quarterback could provide a food journal of what he eats on a daily basis and the students could make recommendations as personal nutritionists. In this case, the quarterback might use the suggestions, gain 4 pounds of lean body mass, and drop his body fat by 3 percent. Maybe because of this, your school will win the state championship. All the students would then acknowledge you as one of the reasons for victory – your brilliant unit plan about nutritional strategies would have won them the championship. There would be a parade, and all the students would carry you on their shoulders shouting your name. A statue might be erected in your honor, and they would name the new football stadium after you.
All right, perhaps we’re taking things a little too far, but do you see what we mean about connection? If students can relate to it, if they can get excited about it, and if they can connect to it, then they will learn from it, and this is easiest to do with a real-world scenario.
This can never be emphasized enough, so let’s repeat it one more time. For learning to stick, it has to have relevance – not to the teacher, but to the learner.
Ripped From the Headlines
Once you’re comfortable writing scenarios that are generic, you’ll find yourself creating scenarios on the fly - just like the teacher who wrote to us about her coffee shop experience. You will start seeing possibilities everywhere, because they are everywhere!
The point of a good scenario, and therefore a good unit, is that it has relevance to the students – that it has real-world context. What better place to find real-world context than in the real world? Ask yourself what is happening in the world. How is what’s happening going to affect us all? How can what is on the front page of the paper today be brought into the classroom?
You will find within newspaper and magazine stories the basis for dozens of scenarios. Every conceivable curricular objective for every subject—mathematics, social studies, language arts, economics, geography, science—it’s all there! As an added bonus, if it’s in the news, it’s something your students can instantly relate to. When you find a connection between local, national, and global situations in a headline story, you have the makings of a great scenario.
How Can a Task Be Designed to Require Higher-Level Thinking?
Earlier, we discussed Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy and noted that lower-order thinking skills (LOTS) involve simply remembering or understanding. As we move up through applying, analyzing, evaluating, and finally creating, we cultivate higher-order thinking skills (HOTS). If students are required to compare or contrast two or more things; if they are required to make inferences and find evidence to support generalizations; if they are required to form an opinion, or make a choice and justify the details with research; if they are asked to apply acquired knowledge, facts, techniques, and rules in a different way; if they are required to create something; or if they are asked to defend opinions by making informed decisions, then higher-level thinking is involved.
This, of course, is the objective. We want to ensure that by the time the students graduate, they are capable of unconsciously and consistently applying the higher-level skills of Bloom’s Taxonomy in their everyday lives. For them to achieve this, students must be given repeated opportunities to practice these skills. This is why it’s our responsibility to make sure higher-level thinking is involved in every educational scenario.
How Can Digital Tools Be Used to Create a Real-World Product That Demonstrates the Learning?
Wherever possible, the outcome should provide students with the opportunity to create, preferably with digital tools, a real-world product. Keep in mind the 6 Ds: Define, Discover, Dream, Design, Deliver, and Debrief. Delivery of a product must involve not only production but also publication. Publication is an essential step that allows students to debrief completely – to evaluate the product and the process through its real-world application to the original problem.
Putting It All Together
You now have everything you need to start assembling your scenario. This example is from a Grade 6 Language Arts lesson plan called “A President Is Born.” In this lesson, students work in groups to develop unique class presidential candidates and design creative campaign packages for them. Later on, the candidates square off against each other in a structured class debate.
“A President Is Born”: The Scenario
Our political leaders use various tools and strategies when running for an election. From a well-designed series of graphics to represent their ideas, values, and personalities to a catchy and compelling campaign slogan to their crucial political speeches, candidates must do a great deal to promote themselves and their ideals. In groups, take a look at the campaigns of recent political leaders and how they are structured to gain ideas for the next phase of the project. You can introduce videos or recordings of chosen campaign speeches for the class to consider and have them take notes as to what they observe about structure and content.
Each group will dream up a running candidate for a fictional class president. Give the candidate a name, a unique personality, and a mission statement for the election. Your group will start by creating an original image for the candidate you are campaigning for, and there are no limitations here—person, animal, and so forth. Once you have created your running candidate, create a speech for him or her, which you will present orally. Conduct research and gain insight by asking people about what kinds of work leaders and politicians do for the people they represent. Look at other leaders for inspiration and ideas. Revise and edit your speech as you gain new insight and knowledge through research, which must include human resources (e.g., parents, friends, community leaders, etc.). Your speech needs to be a compelling political speech.
Last, create a unique and stand-out campaign poster for your candidate. It should be eye-catching, original, and define your candidate’s personality and beliefs using images or maybe even a symbol of some kind. Also, make sure the poster includes a “campaign motto” or statement that is unique to your candidate. It should be one short line that sums up your character’s ideals and values and their pledge to the people if elected.
Finally, it’s time to find out where your candidates stand on an important issue and how they would handle it if elected. With the teacher acting as mediator, the class will structure a debate about a chosen issue either in the news or in their community, and open a dialogue where the candidates square off and present their views and arguments. At the end of the debate, all groups will share their thoughts on how they felt each candidate represented himself or herself both on the campaign and in the issue debate and what strengths that candidate ultimately has as a vote-worthy figure.
The Acid Test for Scenario Development
Once you have developed a unit, you need to step back from it, do a Debrief, and find out how appropriate it is. Objectively, read your scenario and ask the following questions. If the answer to any of them is no, then go back to the beginning and review all of the steps until your scenario can pass this challenge.
- Is there a problem or challenge?
- Is this relevant to the learner?
- Does it require higher-level thinking?
- Does it address multiple curricular objectives?
- Does it cultivate the 21st-century fluencies?
- Are digital tools used to create a real-world product?
- Are there things that need to be discovered?
|I’d like to take a moment to thank Lee, Andrew and Ian for allowing me to use their book Literacy is NOT Enoughto produce this series of guest posts.
As I mentioned above, you will be able to find more information on their curriculum integration kits and some great sample lessons on their site in the very near future. You can also subscribe to their great blog – The Committed Sardine.
This morning I took a look at the Educational Predictions for 2060 from Sal Khan (he of “Academy” fame) – like many of us at this time of the year he is looking “back” and peeking “ahead”…and a 50-year “window” gives him a lot of scope!
Now, I like Sal, I do…I agree that he has done a great deal to get people thinking about “flipping” lecture theatres and universities (still not sure I like that buzz word-type phrase but more people should listen)!
In his YouTube vid, he tells us that by this time (2060, that is):
…active, discovery-based exploration and student creation will have replaced the “passive classroom model”
…”seat and time-based credentials” will be a thing of the past and we will have shifted to an “achievement-based model”
…employers will not care about “GPA” and focus instead on what learners have “done”
…all teachers will have become “mentors” or “coaches” (will the word “lecturer” have been removed from the dictionary, acaba)
…teachers will no longer “work alone” but work as “collaborative teams” – and use practices that promote recognition and greater prestige across the profession
…falling hardware and internet costs will mean we have literacy levels approaching 99%
All of these would indeed be “great” (especially that last one…and the one just before that, too). The problem is that, on the whole, haven’t we been saying these things for YEARS?
Over the year (in this blog), I have done a few of these “futurist” posts and I have been guilty of doing the exact same thing that Sal is doing (though not on YouTube). For example, I did a post on “what’s IN – what’s OUT” in education (and ELT) – and said a few things:
On CLASSROOM PRACTICE:
On ASSESSMENT (for LEARNing):
On (real) LEADERSHIP in education:
On PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT:
On INNOVATION and EFFECTIVENESS:
The problem is, in chatting to a few co-bloggers (especially here in Turkey) these past few days, many of these things just ain’t “true” – they ain’t happened this year, again!
I think we all recognise that many of these things are happening – but far too slowly and often only in places far far away! We read about these great initiatives, those wonderful projects and the amazing successes that many schools, colleges and universities are creating…but that often just “depresses” (especially around this time of year) us and disheartens us about our own “lot”!
But, wait…we can’t finish the year on that note – we are teachers and teachers are not quitters!
What Sal Khan is doing is a bit of “dreaming” – like others before him. Nothing wrong with that – dreaming keeps us all going!
Yes, we can say that we have heard all this before – especially if we look further back than the “YouTube epoch”.
OK…maybe we drop into the “internet library” rather than the bricks-and-mortar variety – but what Henri Amca was telling us is that it is what we “do” with what we “know” (and LEARN) that is important.
He said this in 1852!
Gifford Pinchot (who the bloody hell is that, I hear you say) built on what Henri Amca told us:
Pinchot, when he wasn’t saving forests, knew the power of moral imperatives and responsibility – and that change takes time!
Yes, we have a great many “highly-educated idiots” in our governments and ministries, we have a lot of “my-way-or-the-highway” leaders in our schools and colleges – and we may even have a few colleagues and learners that just do not “get” it, yet.
But here’s the deal – getting the New Year “blues” or playing the “blame-game” are not going to get us any further than we got this year – LEARNing, doing something with what we LEARN and taking responsibility for LEARNing others will!
Sal was right with one thing; the future (and 2012) will be about “creation” – the creation of a preferred future in education. We know what that future “looks” like – and we have another year to help make it happen!
Besides, if WE give up…who else will do it?
Happy NEW YEAR – and remember KEEP UP THE GOOD FIGHT!
In November I started a “series” based on the work of those lovely chaps at the 21st Century Fluency Project – Lee Crockett, Ian Jukes and Andrew Churches very kindly gave me permission to use their new book Literacy is NOT Enough to create a number of “guest-posts” (now, if we could only get more writers to don their “creative commons” hats)!
To date, I have done five posts:
I was planning to complete the series in six posts – with the last one highlighting the type of lessons teachers can develop to really “breathe life” into the “Fluencies”. Best laid plans and all of that!
However, I had to edit down Post #5 – and missed a very important bit of commentary from Andrew, Lee and Ian…
So, here is Part 6 – or perhaps Part 5b……
A study that was conducted by the Bertelsmann Foundation in Michigan back in 1998 clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of cultivating higher-level thinking as well as measurable learning and retention. In the study, two groups of 100 social studies students were taught the same information by two different methods. One group was taught in the traditional way that’s all too familiar to us: full-frontal lecturing with students sitting in rows. They poured over worksheets and were hammered with drills, drills, and more drills, and traditional tests and quizzes.
The second group learned primarily through problem- and process-based approaches.
This group of students worked both individually and in groups. They benefited from self-assessment, peer assessment, and teacher assessment. They focused on creating real-world products to solve real-world problems.
At the end of the year, both groups were tested, using the same traditional state-mandated exams for social studies. The results were stunning, and most likely not what you would expect.
The scores were nearly identical for both groups, regardless of how they learned. You might be confused now as to the point of this. Perhaps you’re thinking this indicates that there is no point in investing in technology or new instructional and assessment methods.
Apparently the old approach still works just as well as ever.
You’d be wrong. One year later, unwarned and therefore unprepared, the students were given the very same test that the previous year they had passed with both groups performing equally well.
The results were astonishing!
The group that was taught using traditional methods was able to recall only about 15 percent of the content. To make matters worse, an analysis of the results and the students’ thinking indicated that they viewed social studies as a series of itemized facts—this happened on this date, this happened on that date, and one event did not influence another in any way.
Theirs is an excellent example of lower-order thinking.
The group that was taught using problem- and process-based learning approaches recalled more than 70 percent of the content. More important, they demonstrated a deep understanding of the integrated nature of their learning. In other words, they not only remembered the content but also understood its significance. They were able to make abstract connections between events. Effective learners make attachments or connections between their existing knowledge and new information.
This is Velcro learning! This is higher-order thinking. These are the goals we have for our students, and we need to make this shift in the instructional approach to give them the opportunity to develop the skills we know they need.
They are limited not by their abilities, but by our lack of flexibility in making the shift.
Even though this research has been around for decades, many educators continue to depend completely on the “stand and deliver; sit and learn” full-frontal lecture method. If we were to be really honest with ourselves, we know intuitively that this isn’t working.
Teachers are good people who are committed to their students and want to do what’s best for them. Yet what they’re doing isn’t working. They know this, but they continue to do it. Why? There is an unprecedented pressure on educators today. As our students are failing, fingers are being pointed at teachers. In many cases, teachers’ salaries and employment are being tied to student performance.
Governments are demanding that more information be taught than there are hours available in the student’s career. At the same time, millions of dollars are being slashed from budgets. In the panic to meet the mandates, teachers are attempting to cram as much information into students’ heads as possible. Many students are seeing education as a 16-year process of slowly and painfully memorizing facts that can be Googled in seconds. The result is that they are tuning out and leaving school in unprecedented numbers—in some cases more than 50 percent of students. As we discussed earlier, this is happening not just in high schools but also in universities.
It’s time to shift the instructional approach away from talking as teaching to problem- and process-based learning. In the 21st-century classroom, we must move the responsibility for learning from the teacher, where it traditionally has been, to the student, where it should be. Students must become active participants in their education. The teacher becomes the facilitator of learning, posing real-world problems that have relevance to the learners and guiding them through the process of creating a real-world solution. It’s up to the students to decide how best to communicate their understanding. The learning is not scripted, and it doesn’t limit students—they have the opportunity to explore, to communicate, and to create.
While it is not an easy shift, it is very rewarding – for both teachers and students.
As the 21st-century learning environment revolves around real-world problems, teachers must transition to be crafters of these problems. A well-written scenario that connects real-world relevance to the learner, cultivates the 21st-century fluencies, and addresses curricular objectives sounds like a lot to ask for.
Like any skill, it takes time to develop. It also takes a willingness to make mistakes – that is what debriefing is all about – and finding a way to do it better next time.
In the next chapter, we walk you through the process of developing scenarios. We also provide samples and templates of the unit plans we have created for our 21st Century Fluency Kits. This next chapter is the real meat of this book, so let’s get at it and have some fun transforming your classroom into a 21st-century learning environment.
This guest-post is adapted from Chapter 10 of Ian, Andrew and Lee’s new book Literacy is NOT Enough.
Mmmmmmm….that one went out a bit too early!
“Happiness Engineers” - not too happy (I want my “save” button back – when I try to re-post)!
Ne se! A few weeks back I did a post that tracked my own search to uncover what exactly the 4C’s were….you see, I’d been seeing a lot of the 4C’s around (no puns intended, OK – maybe a bit) – and a couple of people had asked me what I thought about them (esp. those people who were also keen on the 5E’s …
Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate
…from Roger Bybee and his team)
…and YES….we also have the 6E’s and the bloody 7E’s, too! There’s something about “models” that have both a number and a letter that fascinates teachers - bit like playing with matches or playing with a tooth that hurts with your tongue!
At that time, Ken had done an introductory post and discussed 5 of the 7 “steps”;
- The Seven Steps to Becoming a 21st Century School or District
- Step 1: Adopt Your Vision
- Step 2: Create Community Consensus Around the 4C’s
- Step 3: Align Your System to the 4C’s
- Step 4: Use the 4Cs to Build Professional Capacity
- Step 5: Embed the 4Cs in Curriculum and Assessment
What I liked about Troy’s post was the way he drew attention to the emotional side of motivation – and highlighted that TEACHing and LEARNing are frequently about more than “money” (the “usual carrot” so many “motivational experts” talk about). I also liked the fact that his understanding of allthingsmotivation was not about the “usual sticks” (used by those educational supervisors or managers who are, shall we say, “less endowed” in the “consciousness department”)!
Troy’s conceptualisation of motivation is firmed grounded on the power of “care” – and creating the conditions for improved “TEACHer engagement“, even when we do those tasks that do not give us the “buzz” we get from LEARNing and TEACHing…
A lot of people seemed to like the “title” I used for the post – don’t we all just know those Monday morning feelings? That title actually came from a question I posed to a group of “new” heads at a School here in Turkey a few weeks back.
The question was:
Actually, if you “lead” a team of teachers yourself - you might want to do a version of the “little exercise” we did together. Get a slip of paper of paper (or open up a spreadsheet) and set up 4 columns:
1. Write down the names of all your teachers in the first.
2. Next to their names (in column #2) write down the qualifications they hold and the years of experience they have as a teacher.
3. In the next column, write down their birthday – and the names of all their “peeps” (partner’s name, kids’ names, name of any pets they have, etc)…
4. In the “final” column, answer the question above!
See where I am going with this?
Most people, when they do this type of exercise, do well on parts #1 and #2 – those who tend to do a really good job with their teams also do #3 pretty well. But, by far the most effective of “school leaders” can also complete column #4 as fast as they can draw up #1…
Why is this?
Simple, you can’t “care” unless you know what to care about – with “individuals” (not just a “group” – or what you “think” the “group” cares about)! Isn’t that what “great doctors” do – care – one patient at a time (even with the most “grumpy” or “difficult” of patients)?
Isn’t that what “great teachers” do, too?
And, you can’t “motivate” people unless you can do “stuff” (useful stuff) with what you know about those individuals…
But, and here’s the deal, this is not really about “motivating” people!
Remember, the “secret” I shared with you all yesterday (it’s actually also embedded in Stephen Covey’s quote up the top there) – I still maintain it’s true!
For sure, Maslow – Herzberg – and even Reiss, do a great job of telling us about what might “matter” to most of our peeps – and there are loads more “theories of motivation” to get through (especially if you are an insomniac)! We can also bone up on Tuckman’s Team Development Model (and even review The Five Stages of Grief – from Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, if we are wondering what the hell is going wrong with all our “change” initiatives)!
The problem is that all these wonderful theories – don’t tell us much about how to “do motivation” with each and every individual we “lead”! I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say all most of the stuff we “read” (and are “told” by over-paid consultants) is “crap” – sorry!
OK – maybe that is a bit too “stong”! But, I for one would probably not get too excited about buying the book:
However, I might stand in line all night (with me sleeping bag and pot of coffee) for this one:
You see when we talk about “motivating teachers” perhaps what we should be thunking is “engaging” them instead – and “care” is the starting point of all engagement strategies.
We all get this for “students”, right?
So, why is it any different for “teachers”?
Now, you might say – Tony, just stop playing with words!
I say – Covey got it right – and all this rubbish about “intrinsic” and “extrinsic” is just that - rubbish!
There are far better “sources” for LEARNing about motivation (backed by research for all you “data-lovers”) – and most of them are just good ole common sense (and do not require that you sign up for an MBA or conduct a two-year, longitudinal, quantative, dead-as-a-doornail, PhD research project on what makes my people “tick” – that no-one will read or worse, cite!).
Let’s go back to that earlier question – why the hell do we get out of bed in the morning?
Common-sense tells us that we all have to pay the rent, cover the bills and feed the kids. Basically, we have to accept that most people go to work for the “dosh” at the end of the month. This is not a crime…this is not evil…and this does not mean that all teachers will scream out “Show Me The Money!” when we come up with an idea or two for improving student LEARNing and SUCCESS (if that’s what we are really, really after)…
Teachers are also in the “game” for a number of reasons - and, luckily, most of us can relate these to student LEARNing:
This tells me, at least, that all those theories about “carrots” and “sticks” (especially these) – are just “dumb”! OK – you might be able to disregard my thunks (most people do)! But, let’s see what some of the “data” says…
Those lovely chaps at GALLUP (you know, the guys that tell us who will win the elections just before and after we vote – and before they are “stolen” by the guy we did not vote for) have been doing a “tiny” research project – for the last 30+ years and with around about …17,500,000 employees!
Some of the stuff they have uncovered is pretty “scary”:
And, you know what else?
Now, I know these numbers come from a wide range of employment sectots – and I hope to God the numbers for education are a bit lower – they do suggest that the problem is not one of “motivation” and certainly not of what we can do to “motivate others“.
What’s more interesting is the other side of the GALLUP project – by working with that “tiny sample” of theirs, they have also come up with a set of “magic questions” – the Q12! These 12 little questions were “discovered” after the girls and boys at GALLUP sifted through the hundreds of questions (in hundreds of surveys) they “tried out” for the project.
What they found was a fair bit of correlation between those people that were “most engaged” – and also most “productive“, most “satisfied“, most “customer-orientated“, most “loyal“……do I really need to go on?
And, you know what…not one of the Q12 was about “dosh”!
Some of the most critical questions are (hell, I’ll give you ALL of them):
1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?
9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
10. Do I have a best friend at work?
11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
12. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?
Take a look at them – and tell me which ones focus on “the currency of care”!
Also, go back and take a look at the “numbers” we noted above – and tell me if you can’t see a slight correlation between the 24% and the other numbers…
Sure, there are some things there about “role clarification” and “resources” - duh! We don’t ask a plumber to fix our water pipes – and then hide his bloody tools!
Troy got this in nearly all his suggestions about ways to help teachers get on with the less “sexy” bits of carrying out the business of teaching – but I’m guessing it is the “way” he does many of these things that is more important than many of the actions themselves.
I say again, the vast majority of the Q12 questions focus on care, LEARNing and care…..BTW, did I mention “CARE”!
Oh, dear – gone over me word limit again!
Just tell me it makes sense…
OK, and to wrap up, let’s go back to that other book I’m probably not going to write. My version of Engaging Teachers for DUMMIES would have three chapters…
- Chapter One – KNOW THYSELF!
- Chapter Two – KNOW THY PEEPS!
- Chapter Three – KNOW WHAT “MATTERS” and JUST DO IT!
What about YOURS?
Those lovely “happiness engineers” at WordPress (I still love that “job title” – and trust me I have been writing a fair few job descriptions of late…) told me that this bit of scribble would be my 150th post!
…Jesus, Mary and Joseph – so soon? It seems like only yesterday that I was trying to work out what a bloody blog was and if I had the balls to “go public” with some of my deeper, darker thoughts…on allthingslearning!
So, I had a good thunk to meself …have to do something special…something memorable… something uplifting!
Didn’t have bloody clue!
Of course, the sensible…and politically-correct thing to do is say…
That goes without saying…and I do not have to fake “humility” or note how “blessed” I am! If you guys had not bothered to hit a key, move a mouse to an icon or tap a link on your iPads… the bottom line is that I would have probably packed up me troubles in me old kit bag …and gone back to the library!
Or, would I?
I actually started allthingslearning to reduce the number of e-mail attachments I was sending to teachers on some “train-the-trainer” programmes we were running here in Ankara…but I also realised that I was also doing it for “me”.
I had a lot I wanted to “say” (my wife has been saying this for years), I enjoy “sharing” (some say too much – they have done for years)…and I do (in my heart of hearts) believe that LEARNing (and THUNKing) is the only way we can move education ahead!
At the end of the day, blogging is all about “motivation” – not just “numbers” or “hits”!
Bit like TEACHing, really!
I hear the Huffington Post gets around 15,000,000 “unique monthly visitors” – per bloody month (not sure what that means – something about people who eat cookies – but it’s a heck of a lot of “hits”)! WordPress itself gets just over 140,000,000 similar visits!
The thing is that a big chunk of these numbers are the result of people who are motivated to LEARN and motivated to support the LEARNing of others.
So, this post is about:
Finally, he gets to the point!
Now, a couple of you “disagreed” with me…quite strongly, in some cases…but, as me dad used to say “It takes all sorts, lad”!
That’s OK – I could be “wrong” and to prove how “tolerant” I am of the ideas of others, I did a quick search for some ideas…thoughts about “motivating teachers”.
I now find myself owing a couple more people another word of “thanks”…for LEARNing me so much!
One of these is Troy Roddy…and his great blog, The Art of Education (a blog that I discovered only yesterday). He is a bit like me…a real “LEARNing buff” with a keen interest in allthingsleadership. As I was flicking through blog posts and articles…I stumbled upon one of Troy’s posts from July of this year – Motivating Teachers.
Troy had drawn on the work of Daniel Hocam (the “Pinks” of Phi Beta Kappa and ex-speech writer for Al Gore) – gotta love a guy that gives a shout out to his “thinking peeps” (and Pink is one of the best thinking peeps I know)!
I liked the post so much that I asked Troy for permission to re-post it – so happy he obliged. It is a great read…and I’ll save some of my own thunks for post #151!
Motivating Teachers – TROY RODDY
By far, my most popular post is the one I wrote about the three pillars that uphold a student-centered culture. In that post, and on my “3 pillars” Prezi, I explain how communication, a growth mindset, and motivation help keep your school focused on student achievement
That post was mostly written with students in mind, but as educational leaders, we also need to apply those same concepts to teachers. In this post, I explore the motivation “pillar” from administration/teacher point of view. As with the “3 pillars” post, I am using Daniel Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us as the basis for these thoughts.
Let’s start by examining a few observations about the “work” involved in teaching.
- Teaching, as a job, requires one to use a wide range of skills. It is not a factory job at which you do one task over and over again.
- Some of the tasks teachers perform are routine and do not require much in the way of higher order thinking.
- The task at hand should determine your motivation strategy.
- Educators, for the most part, are underpaid. That makes an impact on their lives, and therefore, performance over time.
- In the absence of cash, what other “currency” is valued and available to distribute?
Teaching, as a job, requires one to use a wide range of skills. It is not a factory job at which you do one task over and over again.
Teaching, at least the model needed today, cannot be effective in a factory model. Teachers must also bring a more artful approach to education. Content knowledge, which was once the key ingredient to great teaching, is only one factor among many. Effective teachers are flexible, imaginative, innovative, empathetic, and passionate. These are not the qualities needed on an assembly line where following a detailed procedure of manufacturing is necessary (and also cheaper overseas!).
Therefore, motivating teachers must include clarifying their purpose (cause) and providing them the autonomy (independence) to develop mastery. If the work of teachers was simply low level thinking and routine manual work, then financial incentives (bonuses, rewards for finishing a textbook unit, etc.) would be another effective alternative.
Some of the tasks teachers perform are routine and do not require much in the way of higher order thinking.
I find that I am trying to motivate teachers more directly when the work in question is very routine. For example, getting grades and comments done on time for report card publication. These less “teaching” tasks are often the ones that drive administrators crazy – much more than any real issues in the classroom. The issue here is that these tasks are, admittedly, boring and take teachers away from what they do best – TEACH.
Because these tasks are routine, the strategies used to motivate results need to align with the task. In other words, these tasks generally fall in the category for which some external motivation may be helpful. Autonomy may not be an option because the reports, for example, must be completed in a standard format. In these situations, finding the appropriate “currency” desired by teachers can provide the needed motivation to get the job done well and on time.
As I suggest above, awareness of the type of task you need to address will guide which type of motivation strategies you should consider. Routine tasks usually improve with external motivators. Higher level tasks involving creativity and innovation are supported best by autonomy, purpose, and mastery.
Here is what I believe:
Teachers are greatly appreciated. That appreciation take many forms. Most educators do not get paid a salary that allows them to not need to worry about paying the bills. For what teachers provide for their communities and our nation, a higher standard of living is deserved and, in my opinion, has been earned. Of course, I am an educator and maybe a little biased , but that is what I believe.
The issue with motivation strategies is that because money cannot and hasn’t been “taken off the table” it is always a concern. This concern has an impact on the innovation, imagination, willingness to try new methods, etc. Autonomy, purpose, and mastery will always be fighting against safety, compliance, and security when teachers are facing the tax collector and bills are due.
I am not implying that teachers need an outrageous salary that makes them completely free of financial concern. What I am suggesting is that if teachers are thinking, “I need this job to pay the bills” more than they are thinking, “I need this job to fulfill my desire to teach and serve this community,” then adjustments to salaries may be a good strategy to motivate teachers to be better at teaching the way we need them to in the 21st century.
This final point is one I like because often schools, administrators, and educational leaders only focus on money as the “currency” by which to engage educators. Finding other valuable commodities hidden throughout your school may provide simple, effective, and cheap alternatives to help motivate teachers.
In my experience, outside of money, teachers value time and space. Look for ways to use both.
Here are a few “currencies” I have used to help motivate teachers.
- Providing food and drinks at faculty meetings.
- Taking teachers to lunch (or paying for their lunch with colleagues).
- “Thank you” notes and emails.
- Substitute teaching for them to give them time to grade papers, write comments, or observe other teachers.
- Find better space for them to work outside of class (reserve space in library, give up my office, reserve an off-campus site).
In conclusion, motivating teachers requires an artful approach and an awareness of the types of work being done. Having motivational strategies that align with the work is important.
All the excitement of the EduBlog Awards this year – and the whole nominations process – has created a lot of chatter about “shameless self-promotion”!
“Educators” do this type of thing?
“Educators” who “blog” do this?
So to help us all along Adam Simpson (from Sabancı University – aka @ayearinthelifeof in tweetie circles), issued edubloggers with a wee blog challenge. He suggested that we all try and choose our top “11 from 11”!
His rationale was simple:
This just seems like a great chance to reflect back on a year of blogging, with the hope that others will also do the same. Right then, down to business: some of you are trying hard to drum up support for your blog in the upcoming EduBlog awards. Good luck to you. The thing is, to get those votes you’re going to have to show people why you’re so wonderful. What better way to do that than by showcasing your eleven – go on, I’ll use the ‘B’ word – best posts of the year. What’s more, you can pretend you’re not blatantly canvassing for votes by making out that you’re just fulfilling a blog challenge set by one of your wonderful PLN. Everyone’s a winner baby, that’s the truth…
MMMMmmmm…an opportunity to “flog our own blogs”!
My first thought was to do a post on posts I have NOT written yet…you see, I kinda had a subtle dig at Adam for having a subtle dig at the Edublog Awards – and NOT submitting any nominations for this year’s awards!
The problem was I decided to wait till the nominations were closed to make a point and take a stand on “shameless self-promotion” (OK, OK – I’m lying – I was just too bloody busy to get it in before nominations closed…) – anyways, Tamas Lorincz pipped me to the post on that idea (Tamas – good suggestions and I look forward to seeing them all)…
What to do?
Hang on….my textual coherence (or was than “cohension” – never knew the bloody difference) ain’t what it should be…I haven’t said enough about “self-promotion”.
I remember Daniel Craig (just after he got “the 007 gig” that every leading man, with a British accent, wanted) saying “I don’t believe in self-promotion, really I can’t be arsed”! Funny – because he was on a promotional tour at the time and the success of the franchise was his bloody job and required him to do what he said he couldn’t be “arsed” doing (least we know he’s a real Brit – none of that “ass” rubbish!
Jeffrey Zeldman did a great piece on self-promotion a couple of years back – and suggested that when bloggers are charged with this most heinous of “crimes”, most of us would probably say (very quietly, mind) “guilty as charged” (while downplaying the bit about “shame”)!
The question, of course, is really about whether self-promotion is as “horrid” as it is cracked up to be. Zeldman says “no” – and he also tells us:
- Marketing is not bragging, and touting one’s wares is not evil.
- There is a difference between being arrogant about yourself as a person and being confident that your work has some value.
- Do it right, and only haters will hate you for it. To get, you must give.
I really liked that last one – as well as his “elaboration”:
- …direct self-promotion is ineffective and will go unnoticed unless it is backed by a more indirect (and more valuable) form of marketing: namely, sharing information and promoting others.
Ahhhhh, Jeff – you are the man. Feel so much better about what I am going to do next!
So, here are my BEST posts from 2011!
Hang on…..Adam did not tell us what “best” means and I’m still a bit worried about all that “shame” business (remember, I was raised in a family of “fallen catholics”)….
The problem for me is that I am not sure what my “best” posts are – and I am still a bit wet behind the ears in terms of my “blogging literacy”.
Sometimes I write my average 1,000 words (at the speed of two words a minute – with 2 or 3 days of editing) and think “this is brilliant – my best work ever“!
Hardly anybody reads it!
Other times, I’ve got a spare 15 minutes while I wax me legs or dye my hair – I bang away at the keyboard without a care in the world (with a beer by my side, usually) and fire off a post full of verbal diarrhoea, spelling mistakes and (God forbid) punctuation that ain’t seen the light of day since Shakespeare…..
Everyone loves it……….!
Is there no justice?
Maybe Stephen Fry is right – all bloggers are “illiterate idiots”, and all blog readers are, well, “a bit thick (otherwise they’d be doing more of that real book learning)”!
I’m not so sure (gotta try a “save” here – remember, those are “his” words – not “mine”) – I like to think that people who look at some of me posts are pretty smart (especially when they tweet and RT my posts)!
So, my “top 11 from 2011” is being done on the basis of “infamy” or the raw number of “hits” that the posts have had. I was going to try a pretty complex algorithm that takes account of how many weeks a post has been up on the blog and the % of total hits it gets over a given month divided by that earlier number…but that was just too much bloody work!
My BEST posts from 2011!
The stats I get from those lovely “happiness engineers” at WordPress tell me that two of my top 11 are my homepage (surprise, surprise) and my little “user guide” called “What’s the Point of this Blog” – so I have not included these in my count!
#1 – Are we on the right “track” with CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT? [Part ONE]… (posted on 04/04/2011). This is a great case of what I was saying earlier about there being no justice or logic to blogging. I wrote this as a follow-up to a presentation I did – and to be honest - my heart wasn’t in it. However, this post has got 4 times the action of most other posts and is the single most “popular” post on the blog (and this was before I discovered the power of “visual literacy”). This is a series of posts and has a Part Two and a Part Three – but I’m not “touting” these, really)!
#2 – To LESSON PLAN or NOT to LESSON PLAN…that is the question! (posted on 13/03/2011). This one has a story behind it. I actually lost a “bet” and this was my “punishment”. But, for some silly reason it went “viral” (OK – for my blog that means even my mother-in-law read it)! That having been said, it was fun to write and lots of people have told me how much they enjoyed it.
#3 – The End of the HIGHWAY… (posted on 07/03/2011). This again was one of my very first posts (there is also a Turkish version of this post – but, considering I am writing from my adopted homeland, this was not as popular – not sure why). This one actually started as a bit of a “rant” designed to vocalise the frustrations that many teachers here in Turkey face – dumb-ass “educational managers” who do more harm than good. I’m guessing lots of people wanted to look at “bad Yoda” (the most downloaded image on the blog) – but a few people really liked my summary of the new vision of “next practice” organisational culture that has been emerging over the past few years. My peeps in Oz and NZ especially liked this one, too!
#4 – REFLECT yourself to GREATNESS… (posted on27/09/2011). Now, this one I did care about and actually did a fair bit of research for (not so you’d notice). This whole area is close to my heart and I was “humbled” and felt so “blessed” that so many readers also enjoyed it. Tee-hee!
#5 – “Herding Cats” and Change 3.0 (Part 2) (posted on 07/11/2011). This was the second of 3-part dizi (that was actually meant to be a single post). I am pretty passionate about this stuff – but, for the life of me can’t work out why Part Two was so much more popular than Part One and Part Three (I think this one is the better post – but some people told me that I left too much up to them and that I hurt their heads)!
#6 – Getting FLUENT with the 5 FLUENCIES… (posted on 01/11/2011). This one is actually a guest-post from those lovely chaps at the 21st Century Fluency Project (Lee Crockett, Ian Jukes and Andrew Churches) who very kindly gave me permission to use their new book Literacy is NOT Enough to create a series of “guest-posts” (shoot – just remembered I ain’t finished this…)! This one describes the “five Fluencies” and was the fourth in the series.
#7 – Have our Educational Leaders got the “STUFF”? (posted on 30/08/2011). This one grew out of some work I had been doing on some of the “train-the-trainer” programmes I run – and was an attempt to get to the heart of what really “matters” in educational leadership. I tried to apply the thoughts of Tom Peters to education – turned out to be quite interesting in the end.
#8 – Do our schools speak LEARNing as a “first” or a “second” language? (posted on 16/10/2011). Even though I was really keen for this one to picked up on (as I thought I had created a neat little “notion”), it took a while for people to find this one. A few friends on twitter helped with the “promotion” of this – no shame there – and lots of people keep coming back to re-read this…
#9 – ACCREDITATION for Dummies… (posted on 07/06/2011). If you know the blog, you know I have been threatening to write a whole series of “Dummies books” – if Wiley & Sons do not take me to court first. This one is pretty self-explanatory (and has, in fact, reminded me that I really do need to pay more attention to the “titles” I use for my posts)…That having been said, it was more of a “specialist” post – but it’s done very well and is a regular on my stats each week.
#10 – Bringing students in from the “cold”… (posted on 07/10/2011). I must admit this one did surprise me – I really enjoyed writing this but not as many people seem interested in “assessment” (I have written a lot about issues in testing and assessment). I think a lot of people in the States and NZ pushed this one into the “top 11” – but there are many other countries that need to “get real” about how they take on the “examocracies” that are being “forced” onto our kids… (Turkey, too…OK, especially Turkey)!
#11 – CLASSROOM OBSERVATION – What Works, What Matters? (posted on 10/11/2011). OK – I have to own up to a bit of “cheating” here! In terms of raw numbers, there was another blog script that pipped this little “essay” to the post (by one solitary “hit”) – The ELT Conference Calendar in Turkey…with some “sauce”! The problem is that I do not count this as a “real post” – come on, it’s just a bit of information! Besides, classroom observation (and how it is “done” in many school and universities) is far more important to all us educators. There was also a follow-up to this post – Getting Classroom Observation “RIGHT”… – but it has not been around that long (it is climbing up the “hit ladder” though and I actually think this is better than the first)….
That’s all folks! If I was really honest, I might not have chosen all of these meself – if I was selecting what I think are the best posts.
But, the “numbers” can’t be wrong…can they?