Technology never ceases to amaze me! The ability to engage in a learning conversation anytime, anywhere is truly remarkable. Will Richardson wrote in 2006 that the internet had allowed him to become ‘nomadic learner’- connecting to people and information that point him in the direction of what he needs to know and learn.
On Monday, I was a nomadic learner as I skyped into a conversation Michael Fullan and my leadership team were having on system-wide improvement. As always, Michael’s advice is precise and practical.
- It’s about focus, coherence and consistency
- There’s no point in having school goals if there’s no action driving it
- Remove the distractions
- Ensure your school teams know the focus and can clearly articulate how they’re going to achieve it (ie what are the strategies and tools are going to be used to deliver)
- Instruction drives change not data
- Instructional practice chases good data
- Data is the catalyst for change not judgment
- Capacity building @ the point of delivery
- Whole school reform needs to be led by the principal and lead teacher, supported by those with expertise and orchestrated by the system
- Resist the urge to tell schools everything all at once
- Introduce data walls in staff rooms so that teachers can track the learning journey of all students
- Everyone should be able to name and know the strategies being used to improve literacy and numeracy
- Beliefs and attitudes change when teachers ‘try it’
- The more collaborative teams you have, the more you foster leadership
- There needs to be a causal connection between goals, strategies and assessment
- Develop a language of raising the bar and closing the gap
- Foster a sense of systemness at all levels of the system
It’s not rocket science but it takes discipline and a relentless focus on changing behaviours in the classroom by building teacher capacity. I particularly like points 5,6 and 7 and the timely reminder that good teaching delivers improvements in student learning, not extrinsic factors. Good practitioners know this.
I have written before about the trap that policy makers fall into when they see data as an end in itself. I was in a meeting today where I was asked my opinion on linking teacher pay to student results as it remains a big issue in the US. This is what happens when you don’t understand that data and its use is the tool not a solution.