Tony Gurr

Posts Tagged ‘success’

What is SUCCESS?

In Assessment, Classroom Teaching, Learning & Parenting, Our Schools, Our Universities on 23/06/2013 at 11:03 am

A few weeks ago I stumbled on a great image:

Success (what it really looks like) TG ver

…quite by coincidence one of my favourite EDUbloggers (@ktvee) created a wonderful poster based on a quote from Will Rogers (yes…the “cowboy”)!


I decided to “bring” them together:

What success looks like (Will Rogers quote) TG ver 02

I thunk this is now called “creative curation“…in the blogosphere these days!


You see…I have been working on an upcoming session…on quality initiatives in EDUcation I wonder where my inspiration used to come frombefore the web (remember, I lived 60% of my life before the internet was even invented)!




Neyse, during my “curation” phase…I found a few guys who just kinda “missed the point“:


Success (Lincoln quote)

Funny…yes! BUT…would you raise your kids to BE like this?


As an EDUcatorwould you want this to be the mantra of your CLASSroom?


That last quote reminded me of something a dear friend had said to me…when I was was thinking of making the move to big, bad İstanbul. I had told him that one of the reasons I had put off coming here was that…the “wicked lady” of the North-West had always “scared” me (yes, I know I grew up on the rough, tough streets of North Manchester…but…İstanbul is way bigger)!

I explained that many people in (not “from”) İstanbul were not really “my Turks”…that they tended to be a bit more forceful…a bit more aggressive …dare I say it, less tolerant and welcoming (than my typical Anatolian brothers and sisters). He agreed and explained why…


He also noted that İstanbullular have also changed over the past few years (during all that time I was “partying” in Dubai)…they have become much more “uyanık“!

Once again, Google Translate…thank you…for nothing!  


Thank God…for the Urban Dictionary…yes, wide boy (or “girl“) is a far better way to translate “uyanık“.


Sadly, there are many parents here (as there are all over the world) that LEARN their kids that it is important to be a Jack-the-Lad (or Jill-the-Lass)…this is how we succeed in a place like big, bad İstanbul…this is how we “play the game“.

The game of “oneupsmanship“…


The game of…

Winning (Charlie Sheen)

And, yes…I do get the “irony” of my recent 500K Competition and Celebration!


But, and hear me out, here…that’s different…and I thunk it goes a bit deeper than the recent trend towards more “uyanıklık”.

Much of it is embedded in culture…in EDUcational culture.

You’ve probably seen me rant about the woes of the EXAMocracy here…in canım Türkiyem:

Canım EXAMocracy (TG ver 03)


…and the ADHOCocrats that run educational policy and many (most) of our schools!


Many of my friends tell me that this is NOTnew“…been coming for decades…even Bill Gates and his GERM-like “reformers” have been jealous of the TESTing climate in canım Türkiyem for years.


This “trend” has been hard-wired into our cultural DNA (yes, I can say this now…”Vatandaşlik Immunity“)! But, I’m still careful what I tweet about…


You see, in canim Turkiyem, we do not “pass” an examwe “WIN” one.

We do not “gain” or “get” a place at University – we “WIN” one.

The way we do both is by … being very street-savvy in our TEST-taking (and, oh boy, we have a TEST for every occasion – from “conception” to “resurrection”…OK, in the afterlife sense).

Hell, we even “cancel” the last three years of High-School…just to make sure our kiddies “win” the university exam…and “win” a place at university!


And, we wonder…why so many of our kids ask that question of questions:

So will this be on the test (Ver 03)

Day IN…Day OUT!


Maybe…just maybeit’s time to LEARN our kids a new question:

Success (TG ver and Kaufman quote)


Maybe it’s time to LEARN our parents…and ourselves!


In The Paradigm Debate on 18/02/2011 at 11:00 pm

It is what teachers think, what teachers do, and what teachers are at the level of the classroom that ultimately shapes the kind of learning that young people get.  

Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan

It’s a relatively self-evident truth that teaching and learning are two sides of the same coin. However, and as a growing body of evidence and research is demonstrating, most learning in the world takes place without any form of formal teaching.

We all know there is a great deal of teaching taking place across classrooms (in every corner of the world) without much learning happening!

So, is teaching important? What makes an “effective” teacher?

Research on teacher effectiveness consistently shows that the formal education and learning of students is greatly dependent on the quality of teachers, the teaching they receive and the level of student engagement created by teachers. The “teacher effect”, as it goes, is higher than that of curriculum renewal, textbooks and materials, and (even) school leaders.

In studies, for example, where students have been assigned to “ineffective teachers”, students have significantly lower achievement and learning than those assigned to “effective teachers” – TRUE but,  WTH would even set up this type of study?

So, what is an “effective teacher”?

Everything we come across suggests effective teachers do exhibit a number of common personal qualities and instructional skills:

  • 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

For many of us teaching is, in essence, about believing that all students can learn and doing anything and everything to help and encourage students to grow and develop as whole people. Teaching is about engagement and designing learning opportunities and environments that focus on what students can do with what they learn – and giving learners control, not trying to control learning.

One of my favourite reads on this topic is Bain’s book “What the Best College Teachers Do” (which won the Virginia and Warren Stone Prize for outstanding book on education and society) and while a review of individual studies on teaching effectiveness reveals no commonly agreed definition of teacher effectiveness, Bain’s book provides an excellent conceptual model for what is it that makes a teacher “effective”.

He bases this on a series of questions:

Bain’s work suggests that the most effective teaching is not a question of  age or experience or expertise in a given discipline (although a sound knowledge of the subject-matter of a specific discipline is a given) but rather the result of a number of attitudes, conceptualisations and practices – these are typical of teachers who “take a learning perspective”.

Indeed, many of the understandings and practices of these teachers are very similar to those practices of highly effective institutions investigated through Project DEEP – and stress the importance of:

  • A “living” mission and a “lived” educational philosophy
  • An “unshakeable” focus on student learning

Teachers that take a learning perspective also extend these ideas to their own understanding of themselves as professionals, and the ways in which effective teachers work to learn and grow include:

  • Reflecting on their own performance in order to improve
  • Using feedback from students and others to assess and improve their teaching

BUT, and this is where I throw LEARNING back into the ring, we said that teaching and learning are two sides of the same coin.

I would propose that we keep Bain’s approach but modify some of his questions a little –

  • What do effective teachers know and understand about learning and teaching?
  • What do they do with what they know and understand about learning and teaching?
  • What do they do to improve what they do with what they know and understand about learning and teaching?

That last one is a bit of a mouthful!

Some different questions like these might help us really get to the heart of what makes a truly effective teacher. How would you answer these questions?


What the Best College Teachers Do by Ken Bain

Learning That Lasts: Integrating Learning, Development and Performance in College and Beyond by Marcia Mentkowski & Associates (Alverno)

Student Success in College: Creating Conditions That Matter by George D. Kuh, et al