Transparency rules

I thought I’d dip again into the work and words of Michael Fullan – author of Six Secrets of Change and one of the texts in our evolving educational canon.

Actually, Michael will be back in Parramatta next month, working with our aspiring and school leaders.  Always challenging, always inspiring, always honest, always prudent.

I hope that in talking to our leaders, there is discussion devoted to transparency (i.e leading to improving practice).  Transparency still unnerves many and yet governments are demanding greater transparency when it comes to school and student performance.

For Michael, transparency is about results (student data) and the teaching practices that influence those results (negatively or positively).  This is an exceprt from an interview with the Ontario Ministry of Education on Leading Change.

Most examples of accountability only look at the results.  All this tells you is whether you have been successful or not.  You also need transparency of instructional practice.

Transparency means looking at what is (or isn’t) yielding the desired results.  It’s not enough to simply identify what good learning and teaching looks like – we need to share it, learn from it and adapt it.

According to Michael, there are three elements (another rule of 3) for improving teacher practice:

  1. Transparency – knowing about the teacher’s practice and the results
  2. Empathy – ensuring a non-judgmental environment (teacher learning not teacher spurning)
  3. Building teacher capacity and teacher-learning (motivating success)

As professionals, we need to be more open to using data to inform our practice.  This is the science of teaching, the art is in the relationships we build and the environments we create. Then, we begin to build that illusive “professional practice” that Elmore bemoans the lack of in education.

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