Tony Gurr

Posts Tagged ‘learning literacy’

REFLECT (and THUNK) Yourself…to GREATness (the RE-boot)!

In Adult Learners, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness, Teacher Learning on 26/06/2013 at 12:38 am

big bad İSTANBUL

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A couple of you have probably heard that I have “moved” …and have been “celebrating” that around half-a-million folk have dropped into the ole blog (shirously, guys…you have to get a life)!

OK – this post has been one of the favourite “hits” for many of you…and, as part of my 500K celebrations, I decided it needed a “re-boot”…so this is what you get!

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Best way to be BORING (Voltaire quote)

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Did you KNOW that:

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  • 65% of conference attendees believe they LEARN nothing from plenary sessions…
  • 55% of conference attendees prefer the coffee breaks to the break-out sessions they attend…
  • 45% of conference attendees “sneak” off to do a bit of sight-seeing…or shopping…(!)

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Did you also know that 33% of statistics are made up on the spot!

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OK, OK – my conference “stats” may lack a bit of reliability…but it’s true – we EDUcators do not do our best LEARNing at conferences!

I lke boring things (Warhol quote)

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Neyse…. to something totally different!

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I have done a great deal of interviewing in my time (karma…previous lives poorly lived, no doubt) – but one interviewee still stands out for me…nearly 13 years after the fact.

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I had probably interviewed around 15 candidates on the day I met him – and I was bored to death by people telling me what a great team-player they were…how flexible they could be in difficult situations…and, how they were really “interested” in all our “strategic initiatives” (that weren’t even on the website)!

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He popped in (with no tie, I must add) – the “balls” on the guy…and I decided to ask him (first question – right in):

“Tell me why you are a great TEACHer…”!

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His response:

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Not sure I am that great…I’m good…but I’m good because I LEARN faster than most, I work harder at reflecting than most and I like doing “it” with other TEACHers…

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OK – I had to hold back a “giggle” with that last comment (but “humour” is what we look for, too). 

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I gave him the job!

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TEACHers learn best by REFLECTing:

Classroom reflection (FQs for TEACHers) TG Ver 03

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And, they do “it” best with OTHER TEACHers!

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A TEACHer’s level of “reflective savvy” is essentially the product of “who they are“; their level of critical literacy, their level of LEARNacy and their level of emotional literacy.

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This savvy is critical for the level of EDUcational Literacy that a teacher has – the GOOD news – it is “LEARNable”! And, LEARNable by just doing “it”.

OK – I really have to stop that…

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I have to admit…developing your reflective savvy does take time (maybe, it never really stops).

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It’s about asking the “right” questionsagain and again. Taking the time tostep back and weigh up what’s really happening around you…within you…as a LEARNing professional.

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It’s about working towards greater clarity and understanding – by being “honest“.

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BUT, most importantly – it’s about taking ACTION – and ACTION that leads to “improvements” in what you KNOW, what you DO and WHO YOU ARE as an EDUcator.

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Many educators do this by asking questions about TEACHing:

These are “great” questions – but are they enough?

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We all know that there is a huge difference between asking questions about TEACHing and asking others about LEARNing:

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In fact, we can take the same 3 questions and apply them to LEARNing:

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If you want…we can even push that boat out a little further…just a little, mind:

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WHAT the HELL….in for a pound, in for a penny; Let’s take those THREE little questions and think about:

  • CURRICULUM
  • ASSESSMENT (and, TESTING – of course)
  • EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP
  • QUALITY
  • …the CONFERENCE BUDGET (and how we can spend that money so much more wisely)!

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Hey, here’s a whacky idea  – …speak to your HoD and ask her to cancel the “boring administration meeting” she had planned for you all this week!

Get a cup o’ çay (and a biscuit) with your friends…take the time to “sit” and “chat“…and REFLECT!

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Einstein and CPD

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GO ON…do “it” with another TEACHer today

…you know you’ll have fun!

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Questions Students Ask (aka “LEARNing THAT LASTS” – Pt 04)

In Classroom Teaching, The Paradigm Debate on 10/08/2012 at 2:40 pm

Just like my friend…- a good teachera teacher who really cares about his studentsa teacher who works really hard to make the biggest difference he can… – a lot of us “blame” the systems, the schools, the curricular, the tests we have to work with. We are “human”, too!

We all know that a “good STUDENT” is not necessarily a “good LEARNer” (what did my darling Padmé say earlier?) – we all know…that much school LEARNing (often and sadly) is not really LEARNing at all…it’s just STUDYing (moreso in some countries than others)…worse, it’s just STUDYing designed to help TEACHers cover the “pacing guide” and achieve “test success”!

Now, I’m not saying that covering the curriculum…and passing “the test”…are a waste of time (OK – maybe I am, especially when the curricular “suck” and the tests are, shall we say, “crap”)! What I am saying is that we, as TEACHers, have to reflect on how we might be “supporting” all these things by doing stuff we know is “wrong”, how we might have adapted ourselves (often reluctantly or unconsciously) to things that we know (in our heart-of-hearts) are “harmful“…to the LEARNing of our students!

In our rush to create as many “successful STUDENTS” as possible, are we perhaps using a “classroom currency” that is holding them back from becoming “successful LEARNers”?

Let’s stick with my friend’s story and our “chat” for a minute or three.

 

So, I bought him another drink…and asked if he had ever used the following questions at the start of an academic year:

He told me that that he never had…but I saw a “smile” come back to his face. He told me that he often started the year with a discussion around “the rules of the game” (in the classroom and the “acts of STUDYing”)…but, he really liked the idea of upfronting this with a “LEARNing conversation” on the nature of “success” – in school, at work ,in life (as it does really exists – after school – really, really)! 

The second question, he told me, looked liked one that could help “change” a few habits – even, “flag” that he wanted to “do” business differently (in line with the list of things that students “need”) and that he could “do” that “business” differently “with” the students and build it into his “rules of the game”!

I told him that I would “steal” that idea, too!

 

I also asked if he had tried to get them away from his “question horribalis by getting them to ask two slightly different questions:

He thought these two were “pretty neat” (his words) and could help students take a closer look at the curriculum – take a bit of “ownership”. However, he wanted to know why I would want to “encourage” them to use such similar questions to the one he hated.

Basically, I said, the second question is just about acknowledging that (for most students) the “mode of assessment” IS the “curriculum” – and, while we might not be able to change the “test” (or create more “meaningful curricular”) overnight, there are bigger issues than the short-term goals of the “test” – goals that emphasise LEARNing THAT LASTS and what students need to do with what they LEARN long after the test is over and done with…

…and, it’s the TEACHer’s job…yes, I said the “TEACHer’s job”to assist in the discovery of this “truth”!

 

We talked for a while about the whole “questioning culture thingy” and the “currency jobbie” – and then he said that a part of his big problem this year was that he had quite simply “forgotten” that a big chunk of the “currency that matters” is the questions we use with students or (more importantlythe questions they LEARN from us.

What he said then really “hit the spot”!

“You know what? These two questions could really have helped me put a stop to those other silly questions, couldn’t they?” – OK, maybe not what he said exactly (word-for-word) – but this was, “I guess I forgot to invest in the right questions this year – I guess I forgot that my job is not to just cover the curriculum…but LEARN them stuff that makes my doing that a bit easier”!

 

We were on a rollI suggested a few more:

These he liked – and were similiar to other “activities” he did use at the start of the year. He had always loved that last question – used it as a way to encourage more “critical thunking” in his students. The thing was, he noted, was that he’d never really used it in discussions on “approaches to LEARNing” or “LEARNing styles” – this is because (he said) the activities he used did not move beyond “awareness” to “action“.

I reminded him of a couple of things on the “list” (I can never remember them all – thank God for iPads) – and suggested a couple more questions that would fit in with his “contract-building” and “the rules of the game” activities:

These he liked – but told me they might need a translation! I did not recommend Google Translate!

 

He reminded me that I’d said something about “goals” and I told him about four other questions that I’d found really useful to pull all the other LEARNing conversations with students “together”:

OK – he told me I might be “pushing” it with those ones! But, he liked them, too…especially, the “insights” he could glean about his students from these (and similar) questions.

We also talked about how questions like these really “set the tone” for a more collaborative, a more “personal” relationship with studentswe all know how much students are just plain tired of all the “fake relationships” they experience in school, college and universities. This “tone”. we agreed, was the very basis of “engagement”.

What was really interesting (for me) was how he had “changed” in the 10 to 15 minutes since he’d had a bitch about the curriculum and tests (and, it wasn’t just the other drink I had bought him). The questions had helped us “connect” more, helped us “explore options“, helped us “map out” a couple of strategies – together.

All of them (even the ones about “heart” and “values”), he told – me made a lot of sense. Sense he had not used in many of his classes this year (bloody curricular, bloody tests)  – but sense that had energised him and reminded him about what really matters…

 

Far from “having a go at me” or “me” being a pitbull with “him” – what we had co-created was as authentic a collaborative TEACHer LEARNing conversation as you can get.

We LEARNed eathother so much…ohh, that more of our institutions created these types of “spaces”…facilitated these types of LEARNing conversations for TEACHers…

Hey, you never know…more “chats” like this might actually lead to a few more real changes to all those curricular and tests we love to hate!

 

He did ask me if I had come up with the idea for all these “student LEARNing questions” from my trip to Alverno (I mentioned this in the post – Can a teacher “create” LEARNing THAT LASTS?).

I think the Alverno questions had helped but I also told him I’d got a lot of the ideas from books I had stumbled upon:

1) Peter Block’s – THE ANSWER TO HOW IS YES 

2) Michael Marquardt’s – LEADING WITH QUESTIONS 

3) Jackie Walsh & Beth Sattes’ – LEADING THROUGH QUALITY QUESTIONING 

4) Marilee Adams’ – CHANGE YOUR QUESTIONS CHANGE YOUR LIFE 

 

…I also told him that I’d modified a lot of the coaching / mentoring questions I’d been exposed to over the years – and also by “forgetting” loads of stuff myself.

I guess Will Rogers was right when he said:

…I think most of us need to do all three and remember we can sometimes LEARN best from “high-voltage experiences”!

 

 

I also had to “come clean” with him…and tell him that I had developed a lot of these “student LEARNing questions” from a bunch of guys working with the “Dark Side” – the “Sith” who practice the dark arts of TEACHing and TRAINing.

In my defence (theirs, too) – a “version” of the TEACHing/TRAINing Paradigm that does put LEARNing at the heart of its approach.

 

And, you thought the “end was in sight” for this “dizi”!

– More on this later!

 

Questions Students Ask (aka “LEARNing THAT LASTS” – Pt 03)

In Classroom Teaching, The Paradigm Debate on 10/08/2012 at 12:08 pm

This last set of posts was never meant to become a “series”…a “soap” ! Perhaps, I have been watching too much Turkish TV of late…the summer re-runs!

In fact, I haven’t even finished the last “dizi” I was working on…Actually, the more I think about it – the more I realise that I have just been putting off Part 05 (of the Rocks n’ Hard Places series)…

Ne se! This set of posts seems to be “growing” into “required reading” for that finale!

 

So, in the last post, I finished up with a question:

 

I was, of course, asking after the long list of things that students “need” – to get them to LEARNing THAT LASTS:

LEARNers…need:

  • to be involved in diagnosing and formulating their LEARNing needs
  • to participate in setting their own LEARNing goals
  • to be involved in the planning their LEARNing opportunities
  • to be in control of choosing and implementing appropriate LEARNing strategies
  • to be encouraged to identify meaningful LEARNing resources / materials
  • to be seen as “proactive LEARNers” (rather than “reactive students”)
  • to feel that their experience and backgrounds are valued – and that they are respected as a “whole person”
  • to LEARN in a “warm, friendly and informal climate” that provides for flexibility in the LEARNing process
  • guidance and support that maintains their motivation to LEARN and keeps them actively involved in their own LEARNing 
  • to know why they should bother to LEARN something
  • opportunities to solve real-life (and relevant) problems (not be spoon-fed content)
  • opportunities to discover, critique and create
  • to LEARN-by-doing and engage in active experimentation (and reflection on mistakes)
  • “just-in-time” teaching (not the “just-in-case” variety)
  • instructional support that is task-oriented and contextualised (rather than memorisation)
  • peer support and group-based activities, as well as individual attention from teachers 
  • to know that their needs form the basis of any curriculum and that self-direction is the core principle of any instructional methodology
  • to share responsibility for and take ownership of monitoring the progress of the LEARNing experience
  • to be involved in evaluating LEARNing outcomes and measuring their success
  • to experience a sense of progress towards their goals – and success

…just in case you needed a recap…an “özet!

I guess what I was doing with this “list” (and asking TEACHers how many of these things they “facilitate” in their classrooms and the LEARNing opportunities they “offer” their LEARNers) was suggesting that greater involvement (or “engagement”) in planning and decision-making could perhaps stop many students donning the t-shirts Guy Claxton tells us so many students actually “wear” under their uniforms!

University students do not seem to have that problem these days…they are more than happy to put their feelings on their chests!

What puts a lot of students off school (or college) is STUDYing (specifically TEACHing-driven STUDYing)LEARNing (or rather greater involvement and engagement) in formal LEARNing environments and opportunities is not usually a problem at all…

And, so are you my darling Padmé!

 

That list was something I did a few months back – and, in a way, summarised all the “best practice” we have built up in androgogy (“adult” LEARNing). In that post, I actually argued that these “needs” were also common to “kids” (and pedagogy, too). However, getting to the points on the list requires TEACHers ask a lot of questions about “where they are right now” – and “doing something” about any “soft spots” they uncover. You know, making a few changes to how they “do business” – adapting, growing, LEARNing

but that’s not really the point right now. 

 

The point (and the “story” behind this post) is how some people responded to that last post (and its “longer” version) ….especially a “dear friend” of mine that read them both – and decided to “have a go” at me!

Now, this friend of mine (he does not know I am writing this – hence the lack of “name-dropping”) is a really dedicated TEACHer. He is a good teachera teacher who really cares about his studentsa teacher who works really hard to make the biggest difference he can. He also reads my bouts of bloggery on a pretty regular basis and is usually very complimentary...frequently sending me things that he finds and link to the stuff I write (I’m guessing around 10-15% of my “quotes database” comes from him)!

This is why I was a bit taken aback by how wound up he was when I last saw him!

 

He told me that he “got” what I was saying (even enjoyed thunking through a few of the questions)…BUT, he also mentioned that he was getting a bit frustrated (he used a more “colourful” phrasal verb – in actual fact) that I had not covered enough ground on the “student side of things“. He pointed out that I never touched on the questions that students have in real classrooms” in the “real world”“not once, not bloody once” (his words) – very common questions like (again his words):

 

 

He threw in another one (or three):

 

Now, I was guessing that something else was going on in my friend’s head (it was – and he told me later that a lot of his kids had “failed” the year and were having to do “summer school” – summer school that many of them would not get through)!

Normally, I’d let him blow off some steam – tell him how much I understood what he was going through (my wife LEARNed me that) and buy him another drink!

But, I decided to ask him why he thought that his “kids” (they are, in fact, younger adults – 19 to 22 years old) asked questions like these.

His response: “That’s just the way many students are these days…maybe that’s the way they have always been!”

 

Couldn’t let that go, could I?

…I asked. 

 

He didn’t answer immediately…so I reminded him of a quote he had sent me a few weeks back – a quote he had fallen in love with:

Yes, even I can be a bit of a pitbull – an “evil” one at times!

 

He thunked a bit more and finally said:

 

WE DID IT TO THEM

We all created the “monster” that we all currently have to “deal with” …

motivate” ….”cajole” ….”trick” ….”put up with” ….”get through the test”!

EVEN I DO IT TO THEM!

 

As I said, I had sensed there was “something else” happening inside my friend’s head  – it wasn’t just the frustration these questions had created in my friend when the students “used” them in the “real world”, in his “real classroom”.

He had worked really hard all year (trying, IMHO, to “do” the impossible) – but felt he had “let down” many of his students.

Let himself down!

 

He qualified his “mini a-ha moment” by saying, “…the real problem is that…”

I’m guessing many of you might feel the same…from time to time!

 

We’re not done just yet…but I’m trying to avoid another “one-shot OPUS-MAXIMUS”!

More on the “story”…tomorrow!

It does get better…and has a “happy ending”!

 

LEARNing THAT LASTS – the “Pinterest” VERSION!

In Classroom Teaching, The Paradigm Debate on 29/07/2012 at 1:41 pm

A few days ago…feels like “years” with this bloody heat here in Ankara – I did a post calledCan a teacher “create” LEARNing THAT LASTS? 

The feedback was great – some said it was a real “THUNKing” post that got their juices flowing

 

A couple of others said…”too long”:

“Age of distraction”…”content is king”…”wordbites” 

you know the deal!

 

So…to help “win” back my clients (both the visually-talented and the textually-challenged)…this is the PINTEREST version!

The question we all need to ask more.

 

 

 

Duh! We actually pay money for these dictionaries? 

OK – BUT is that it?

 

Mmmm, also true – BUT is that it?

Nice – and very true. BUT….I say again, is that IT!

Novel – got me attention! What happens “between” these two?

Wiki – not too shabby here! Well done – BUT is it enough…still?

The other question we need to ask – sometimes more than the first one! 

 

I mean have we not heard what “the” man said:

 

This is what we need to do – boyz n’ gurlz…

 

So, ask a few more questions…with TEACHing friends, perhaps!

 

Mmmmm – this is gonna hurt a few heads!

 This one, too 😉 

The “killer”….how many times have we asked this one at a TEACHer’s meeting?

 

I need an aspirin! BUT wait…this is THE question….THE QUESTION!

 

This is the ANSWER….

 

This is what the question produced…at Alverno!

 

Mmmmmm….Mmmmmmm…..

Mmmmmmm…..

 

Duh! So, why has so little changed over the past 5, 15, 50 years….???  And, this is the stuff the LEARNers have to do…do we need to do this to….as TEACHers?

 

Maybe we need to do this!

Well said, my man….you been workin’ out?

 

 

These are questions that every institution, every department and every TEACHer needs to ask. Institutions and departments “work” because of TEACHers (not as we may think the so-called leaders that run departments and institutions) – TEACHers are the “fuel” that fire up the “engine”. 

We know:

 

 

BUT…As we noted above:

…thunking about LEARNing is the “key” – and thunking about LEARNers.

So, what do LEARNers need – hadi bakalım!  (Google Translate STILL sucks)!

 

And – this is the bit that might “tire” a few of my “critics”…

LEARNers…need:

  • to be involved in diagnosing and formulating their LEARNing needs
  • to participate in setting their own LEARNing goals
  • to be involved in the planning their LEARNing opportunities
  • to be in control of choosing and implementing appropriate LEARNing strategies
  • to be encouraged to identify meaningful LEARNing resources / materials
  • to be seen as “proactive LEARNers” (rather than “reactive students”)
  • to feel that their experience and backgrounds are valued – and that they are respected as a “whole person”
  • to LEARN in a “warm, friendly and informal climate” that provides for flexibility in the LEARNing process
  • guidance and support that maintains their motivation to LEARN and keeps them actively involved in their own LEARNing 
  • to know why they should bother to LEARN something
  • opportunities to solve real-life (and relevant) problems (not be spoon-fed content)
  • opportunities to discover, critique and create
  • to LEARN-by-doing and engage in active experimentation (and reflection on mistakes)
  • “just-in-time” teaching (not the “just-in-case” variety)
  • instructional support that is task-oriented and contextualised (rather than memorisation)
  • peer support and group-based activities, as well as individual attention from teachers 
  • to know that their needs form the basis of any curriculum and that self-direction is the core principle of any instructional methodology
  • to share responsibility for and take ownership of monitoring the progress of the LEARNing experience
  • to be involved in evaluating LEARNing outcomes and measuring their success
  • to experience a sense of progress towards their goals – and success

So, the real question is:

REFLECT yourself to GREATNESS…

In Classroom Teaching, Conferences, Teacher Training on 27/09/2011 at 12:38 pm

Did you know that:

  • 65% of conference attendees believe they learn nothing from plenary sessions…
  • 55% of conference attendees prefer the coffee breaks to the break-out sessions they attend…
  • 45% of conference attendees “sneak” off to do a bit of sight-seeing…or shopping…(!)

...shopping time!

 

Did you also know that 33% of statistics are made up on the spot!

 

OK, OK – my conference stats may lack a bit of reliability…but it’s true – we educators do not do our best LEARNing at conferences!

 

I have done a great deal of interviewing in my time (karma…for previous lives poorly lived, no doubt) – but one interviewee still stands out for me…nearly 12 years after the fact.

I had probably interviewed around 15 candidates on the day I met him – and I was bored to death by people telling me what a great team-player they were…how flexible they could be in difficult situations…and, how they were really “interested” in all our “strategic initiatives” (that weren’t even on the website)!

He popped in (with no tie, I must add – the “balls” on the guy) and I decided to ask him (first question – right in):

“Tell me why you are a great teacher…”!

His response:

Not sure I am that great…I’m good…but I’m good because I learn faster than most, I work harder at reflecting than most and I like doing “it” with other teachers…

OK – I had to hold back a “giggle” with that last comment (but “humour” is what we look for, too). I gave him the job!

 

TEACHERS learn best by reflecting:

And, they do do “it” best with OTHER TEACHERS!

 

A teacher’s level of “reflective savvy” is essentially the product of “who they are“; their level of critical literacy, their level of learnacy and their level of emotional literacy.

This savvy is critical for the level of Educational Literacy that a teacher has – the GOOD newsit is “LEARNable”! And, LEARNable by just doing “it”.

OK – I really have to stop that

I have to admit…developing your reflective savvy does take time (maybe, it never really stops).

It’s about asking the “right” questions…again and again. Taking the time to “step back” and “weigh up” what’s really happening around you…within you…as a LEARNing professional.

It’s about working towards greater clarity and understanding – by being “honest“. BUT, most importantly – it’s about “taking ACTION” – and ACTION that leads to “improvements” in what you KNOW, what you DO and WHO YOU ARE as an educator.

 

Many educators do this by asking questions about TEACHing:

These are “great” questions – but are they enough?

 

We all know that there is a huge difference between asking questions about TEACHing and asking others about LEARNing:

 

In fact, we can take the same 3 questions and apply them to LEARNing:

 

If you want…we can even push that boat out a little further…just a little, mind:

 

WHAT the HELL….in for a pound, in for a penny; Let’s take those THREE little questions and think about:

  • CURRICULUM
  • ASSESSMENT (and, TESTING – of course)
  • EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP
  • QUALITY
  • …the CONFERENCE BUDGET (and how we can spend that money so much more wisely)!

 

Hey, here’s a whacky idea…  – …speak to your HoD and ask her to cancel the “boring administration meeting” she had planned for you all this week! Get a cup o’ tea (and a biscuit) with your friends…take the time to “sit” and “chat”…and REFLECT!

 

GO ON…do “it” with another teacher today…you know you’ll have fun!

Imagineering the 21st Century Teacher…the PREQUEL!

In Classroom Teaching, Our Schools, Our Universities, Teacher Training on 23/09/2011 at 1:39 pm

After my last post on Imagineering the 21st Century Teacher, I got a lot of questions – mostly asking:

“What exactly is Educational Literacy”?

Pretty reasonable question, actually!

 

In a nutshell:

Educational Literacy (EdL) is all about the capacity of an individual to make a “real difference” to the lives of others – through learning and education.

In a way, Educational Literacy (let’s stick with the abbreviationEdL) is something that should concern everyone on the planet. Any parent wishing to help his or her child make “wise” decisions about schools, colleges or university – needs to have EdL. Any teacher walking into a classroom (for the “first” or the “50,000th” time) needs to have a lot of EdL, if she wants to be truly effective.

EdL is something parentsstudentsteacherseducational administrators or anyone involved or interested in the world of learning (including, dare I say, media representatives, publishers and politicians)must have!

In the case of teachers, EdL is more than the teaching-related knowledge and skills required to manage a classroom, present content and practice teaching points – that is known as Pedagogic Literacy. It touches on a teacher’s beliefs and values, the way she interacts with her learners and the extent to which she reflects on her own practice – to grow professionally and create even “better” learning opportunities for those around her.

As such, EdL is a multi-dimensional construct – a true “multiple literacy”. It is not simply the product of adding to “a stack of facts and figures” or throwing more tools into “a bag o’ tricks” – it is experienced and lived through the synaptic-type interrelationships between a number of Literacies (and Fluencies)…

  • EdL is a “talent” – a talent that is both “learned” and “learnable”.
  • EdL is an “ability set” – an ability set that is both “rational” and “emotional”.
  • EdL is a “passion” – a passion that drives improvement, progress and transformation!


EdL is also something that many people do not possessand this is what lies at the heart of many of the challenges we face in education.

For example:

  • Parents that tell teachers that their job is to “create” an engineer or doctor out of “Little Mehmet” – have low levels of EdL…sorry mum (and dad)!
  • Students that “blame” their failure on a given exam or the “academic clubs” that manipulate exam cut-offs – have low levels of EdL…sorry guys, time to take some responsibility (unless, that is, their educators also happen to have low levels of “Assessment Literacy”)!
  • Lecturers and teachers that do not even bother to learn the names of their students or “care” what these students “bring” to the classroom – have low levels of EdL…no apologies required here!
  • Educational Managers (up to and including Principals and Rectors) who value their “seat” more than the learning of their learners and still fail to see the importance of “walking-the-talk” – have low levels of EdL…guys, just move aside (the 21stCentury is here)!
  • Schools that live off the “fat” (or prestige) of the “past” or try to “fake-it-till-they-make-it” – have amazingly low levels of EdL…time to “get real” and evidence what you say you are!
  • Media representatives that report the “league tables” without helping students and their parents to ask the right questions about how the “rankings” were carried out – have no EdL wotsoever…come on, guys – earn your pay-cheques!
  • Publishers who tell educators/teacher-trainers to put on a “show” and not bother with all that “learning stuff” – fail the “EdL test” totally…you millionaires, time to pay back a slice of those profits you’ve been raking in!
  • Politicians…Mmmmm…hey, who the hell said it was possible to “save every soul”!

You get the idea!

 

EdL is essentially “realized” (and developed or learned) through the application of Critical Literacy to allthingseducationcritical reflection as applied to learning and teaching.

However, because of the very nature of both learning and teaching, EdL has a powerful emotional component. EdL appreciates that education and learning are fundamentally “emotional experiences” that require Emotional Intelligence (or EQ) is also brought to bear on matters of learning and teaching.

This is why learning and teaching professionals need to exhibit high levels of Emotional Literacy:

  • Emotional sensitivity
  • Emotional memory
  • Emotional problem-solving ability
  • Emotional learning ability

and, to borrow from Gardner:

  • “Intrapersonal Intelligence”
  • “Interpersonal Intelligence”

It’s funny how little we “pay” teachers – considering the job requirements!

 

EdL thus describes what an individual (especially educators) “thinks” or “knows” about education, learning and teaching, what s/he “does” with what s/he knows and also what s/he does to “improve” what s/he knows, does and feels in regard to allthingseducation.

EdL also respects the role of the ” professional teacher” – and what an “effective” teacher can do with what s/he can do with what s/he knows – as such, Pedagogic Literacy is also a focus of its attention, as is Curriculum Literacy and Assessment Literacy.

The problem is, taking Assessment Literacy as an example:

Assessment Literacy is perhaps the best-known of the components that make up EdLwell, in educational reading circles at least. It has been described in the following ways:

Assessment literacy is present when a person possesses the assessment-related knowledge and skills needed for the competent performance of that person’s responsibilities. 

W. James Popham (2009)

Assessment literate educators come to any assessment knowing what they are assessing, why they are doing so, how best to assess the achievement of interest, how to generate sound samples of performance, what can go wrong, and how to prevent these problems before they occur.

Stiggins (1995) – Assessment Literacy for the 21st Century

 

Using the questions we looked at for Learning Literacy, an educator could critically reflect on his own literacy in this area by asking:

Many do – many do not! Most are not given the opportunity to improve on what they cannot do with what they do not know!

 

OK – so what do we have, now?

  • Critical Literacy – CHECK!
  • Learning Literacy – CHECK!
  • Emotional Literacy – CHECK!
  • Pedagogic Literacy – CHECK!
  • Assessment Literacy – CHECK!

 

Anything else? Mmmmmmmmm….

My thanks to my dearest “editor” – you know who you is!

Also, to the HLU, Testing, Curriculum and Training Teams at AU-SFL for inspiring me to get this down on paper….or, was that “on screen”? More “badtime reading” for you guys!

Imagineering the 21st Century Teacher…

In Classroom Teaching, Our Schools, Our Universities on 18/09/2011 at 7:19 pm


In one of my very first posts I tried to outline what I thought were the ingredients for great teaching (or even “great teachers”) – I did this because a couple of bloggers had criticised my over-emphasis on LEARNing (had to set the record straight).

I is a “teacher”, too!

 

But, perhaps (more importantly) I did this because I’d also been invited to speak to a group of “4th year under-grads” – who had put me on the spot by asking me to talk to them about “what makes a great teacher”!

The chat with the under-grads went something like this:

I have to admit – I even surprised myself with that!

 

Feeling as if I might have short-changed them a bit, I sat down and tried to elaborate on a couple of themes we had touched upon (they had, you see, also asked me if I had a blogthey could “follow”gulp)!

In version 1.0 I said this – having “switched”, sharpish, to the idea of the “effective teacher” – teachers should:

  • Treat students with respect and a caring attitude
  • Present themselves in class as “real people”
  • Spend more time working with small groups throughout the day
  • Provide a variety of opportunities for students to apply and use knowledge and skills in different learning situations
  • Use active, hands-on student learning
  • Vary instructional practices and modes of teaching
  • Offer real-world, practical examples

But, also I made the piont that it was the  level of “LEARNing Literacy” (or “learnacy”) of the teacher her or himself – that was the “critical factor“:

Not everybody liked my choice of “image” – but, I do love my South Park!

 

I did, for a nano-second or two, actually believe that I might have “coined” my first original  educational phrase (as I had done a few years back with “Assessment Literacy” – damn you, Stiggins) – I had to settle with a pretty “neat” set of questions that teachers could, perhaps, use to reflect, learn, growand get off the planet quicker!

In more recent posts, I have been waxing lyrically on “How to make a mushroom omelette” (my other hobby is cooking – with a good glass of vino by my side, of course)…

The mushroom was, of course, a bit of a metaphor…we do love our literacies (and fluencies) in education.

And, if we want 21st Century Learners…surely, we need 21st Century Teachers who speak the same language(s) so as to co-create the LEARNing that everyone demands of us all.

 

And, so…thought it was time for version 2.0…

the “effective” 21st Century Teacher!

My darling wife has just called me to “act” on my love of allthingscooking – tis Sunday evening after all (and Dexter wants his dinner, too) – have a thunk and we can chat later!