On a glass panel in my office I have written the seven principles of the instructional core from Elmore et al’s Instructional Rounds in Education. I have done this to keep right at the forefront of my thinking on a daily basis, what I believe to be the best articulation of a foundation for 21st century pedagogy.
The seven are: (the italics are mine )
- increases in student learning occur only as a consequence of improvements in the level of content, teachers’ knowledge and skill and student engagement
- if you change any single element of the instructional core, you have to change the other two
- if you can’t see it in the core, it’s not there
- task predicts performance
- the real accountability system is in the tasks students are asked to
- we learn to do the work by doing the work, not telling other people to do the work, not by having done the work at some time in the past, and not by hiring experts who can act as proxies for our knowledge about how to do the work
- description before analysis, analysis before prediction, prediction before evaluation
Novelty aside, the principles have become a talking point for curious colleagues and visitors. It’s interesting to listen to the conversation outside my door as teachers and non-teachers discuss which of the seven resonate. This is an important point because we need time to discuss and reflect on the importance of these principles.
Quite clearly they place the work of the teacher squarely in the centre of improving learning for all kids. They also make the point that the tasks teachers set for students is more important than the process of assessment.
These principles challenge some long held beliefs that the student is usually at fault if no improvement takes place and that by nature of their training and in-service course attendance, teachers are always equipped to provide outstanding learning experiences for all students.
The best surgeons are the ones who are in theatre everyday dealing with new and complex challenges as they occur and discussing them with the team. Tiger Woods knows all the theory of the perfect golf swing, but after every tournament he goes straight back out the next day to practice. The work of golfing is golfing. In the same way the work of teaching has to be more teaching.
Numbers 3 and 6 are the two that hit the mark for me and are the ones I’m talking to educators about. Which ones resonate with you?