There’s an army of people out there fighting for reform. Educators who know that education has to change. Teachers striving to change the way teaching and learning take place. Rebels fighting against standardized testing and calling for abolishing grades. Tech enthusiasts driving the implementation of technology to make learning meaningful in the 21st century. Flat classroom proponents, making global connections, bringing the world in, taking the learning out of the traditional four classroom walls…
I know. I’m one of them.
Yet, when I asked on Twitter this week what educators believe about how learning occurs, the silence was deafening. I’m sure there were many valid reasons for the fact that I got so few responses but, I’m fairly certain too, there are plenty of educators out there who don’t think much about what they believe about learning. I know for a fact that there are administrators who make important decisions, without considering learning principles at all.
A recent Jay McTighe workshop on ‘whole school change’ highlighted the importance of a strong foundation, comprising your mission statement (who you are, what you value) and your learning principles (your educational philosophy, what you believe about learning.) His accessible model, as illustrated in this diagram, got us thinking.
Our school has a clear mission statement and, as a PYP school, we have some firm, shared beliefs about how children learn. But we still need to ensure that our learning principles are articulated in a clear, accessible way. If we don’t have them spelled out, how do we know for sure that all concerned share the same basic beliefs? How does administration hire staff? How do we plan our teaching and learning experiences? What about the learning environment? How do we implement technology in a meaningful way? What decisions do we make about curriculum and resourcing and policies ?
So, our plan is to ask every staff member to share one or two ‘learning principles’ as a starting point. It’ll be an interesting exercise! Then we’ll collate them and see what our common beliefs are in regard to learning. Gradually we will develop a clear statement of the school’s learning principles. (I’ll blog about the rest of the process as it unfolds.)
So… before you rush to throw out grades, develop policies for implementing digital technologies, create new models for teaching and learning in your school environment… I suggest you examine your learning principles, make sure they are shared and articulated, and only then make your decisions about everything else!
This is my response to Scott McLeod’s call for all edubloggers to post their thoughts about school leadership today. This post is my contribution to Leadership Day 2010.