I got back to Scotland on Friday.
So what did I take from the Harvard experience?
There are ten inter-related things I’d like to do as a consequence of attending the course:
- Identify and remove all things which erode or prevent a sense of belonging – in schools and the authority
- Reduce the variance in the quality of learning experience in every classroom
- Promote the notion of a “person” being separate from their “practice”
- Believe in every person’s capacity to learn – children and staff
- Listen carefully to what people say and avoid moving into problem solving mode too quickly
- Encourage, model and support people to say “These children are mine”
- Focus our attention upon improving the quality and complexity of “learning tasks” provided in every classroom
- Keep returning to the measureable impact of our work
- Ensure that all teachers have a comprehensive understanding about current research into the brain, mind and education which they can use to develop their own professional practice.
- Establish unambiguous, consistent and shared norms about what we expect from our children and ourselves – and ensure that these are vigorously upheld.
Welcome back Don! The readings on the Harvard blog have been fascinating. I like some of the things you are going to try to do or do better, in particular:
1. Identify and remove all things which erode or prevent a sense of belonging – in schools and the authority
4. Believe in every person’s capacity to learn – children and staff
5. Listen carefully to what people say and avoid moving into problem solving mode too quickly
However I’m a bit concerned by this one:
8. Keep returning to the measureable impact of our work
unless you mean to check that what you are measuring reflects what is happening. So much of value is very hard to measure isn’t it? Quality is so very different from quantity, and very hard to measure objectively. Maybe your 5th direction-sign will help with that though.
I understand your concerns but I tried to explore this in one of my Harvard posts see https://www.edubuzz.org/harvard/2007/07/18/social-return-on-investment/
Does this help?
Quote from your Harvard blog “By selecting a much more specific measure and linking it with the aim – prior to deciding upon what the action might be – we come up with a potentially more powerful change model which is very much directed towards IMPACT.
If you want to try this challenge have go at providing me with an aim, measure and action for making children more responsible citizens – remember your measure must be able to answer the funders’ “so what” question about any actions you take, i.e. can you demonstrate impact (not just an output)”
This doesn’t seem like much of a challenge to me…isn’t it what we do quite well? It’s not at all hard to think of AMAs as you challenge.
Aim: make children more responsible citizens, by disposing of their own litter
Measure: playground has less litter at the end of each playtime
Actions: Pupil Council to present info at Assembly at beginning and end of term – challenge and celebration, appoint a playground litter champion in each class – not to pick up litter but to remind people and to run competitions for playground with least litter etc
Aim: to make children more responsible citizens, by learning strategies to resolve their own disputes
Measure: playground supervisors will have fewer disputes to sort out
Action: implement previously discussed peer mediation strategies
What tends to happen though is this:
Aim: raise attainment in maths
Measure: count national assessment levels at each stage
Action: put pressure on teachers to get children to achieve levels sooner
That’s what I have reservations about.