# 2 Mirror, mirror on the wall..(nutshell part 2)

A challenge perhaps…

Try and relate this video to two models of education:

1. The Industrial model – inputs, outputs and production + artificial processes.

2. The Organic model – relational, complex and emulating natural processes

What kind of educational meal are we serving up?

Moving on…

I like Hattie.

He accepts there is no single formula or program to being a ‘fantastic’ teacher.

He desires that teachers talk more about what they do in the classroom – that staff meetings are filled largely with dialogue about teaching & learning practice.

He wants teachers to measure their effect..to try new (research-supported) ideas.

It all kind of makes sense.

So lets continue…

An extension of his core concepts:

1. Teaching is a complex practice

“The fundamental thesis of this book is that there is a ‘practice’ of teaching. The word practice and not science, is deliberately chosen because there is no fixed recipe for ensuring that teaching has the maximum possible effect on student learning, and no set of principles that apply to all learning for all students. But there are many practices that we know are effective and many practices that we know are not.’

( Visible Learning, p4, 2012)

This is not a sales pitch. This is not a ‘7 Steps to being a great teacher’ kind of deal…thankfully!

2. Dialogue about teaching and learning is core to ‘schooling’.

When is the last time you were asked any of the following:

  • What do you do in class that engages students and helps them learn?
  • What is the best teaching idea you implemented this week/term?
  • How do you measure the impact of your teaching?
  • What do your students appreciate about your teaching style?
  • How does your teaching style hinder the learning of some students?
  • What IS your teaching style? How do you modify this to assist all learners in your classroom?

There is a tendency to teach the way we like to learn. Does this work for all students?

Hattie suggests:

“Whilst bus routes, utility bills and lengthy administrative meetings may be needed to make schools run, the true debate is about the nature, quality, and effects of the influences that we have on students.. about ‘Knowing thy impact'” 

( Visible Learning, p12, 2012)

3. Re-think what you do..try something new …measure the results

Hattie seeks effect sizes above d=0.4 (normal learning in a given academic year). An example of something we traditionally do failing to meet this standard is homework.

Homework (as it has been traditionally done) has an effect size of d=0.29 and this closes in on d =0.0 in primary education (reported effect size combining 161 independent studies). The result of this is clear. We need to re-think how we do homework as is it not achieving the educational outcomes intended. In many New Zealand schools, as a result of this research, they did. And they measured the effects of their ‘re-thinking’ of how we do homework.

“One school worked with students and parents to create a website of various ‘home challenges’ and evaluated the effects of this new policy on student motivation, achievement, and parent involvement with their children’s learning.

( Visible Learning, p12, 2012)

Hmm…consulting stakeholders, measuring effects, moving beyond tradition…sounds….scary/exciting/difficult…what are your thoughts?

Consider the following:

“The remarkable feature of the evidence is that the greatest effects on student learning occur when teachers become learners of their own teaching..”

( Visible Learning, p14, 2012)

Here we need to talk about mirrors. How do we evaluate what WE do in our classrooms?

The challenge questions (for me) below are effectively seeking mirrors (other teachers, students, research etc). Without mirrors there is often little impetus to change.

Challenge Q’s:

  1. How much of my talk with other teachers is about teaching practice?
  2. When did I last record my teaching and watch it back for review purposes?
  3. How often do I seek to watch other teachers in actions, or, have them pop in and give feedback on my teaching?
  4. How often do I include student feedback in evaluating the effect of my teaching?
  5. What research-based teaching practices am I current trialling and evaluating in my classes?

I am doing quite a bit of 1 & 5, a little of 3 & 4 and none of 2.

How about you?




4 thoughts on “# 2 Mirror, mirror on the wall..(nutshell part 2)

  1. When I was teaching I did a little of 1 and inadvertently a bit of 3 as there are more opportunities for team-teaching in the primary realms. I found that I was flat out just trying to get everything done and didn’t really get, or make, time to stop and reflect or to get feedback. Not good practice!! The only exception to this was when I worked for big chunks of the day with an open-door/team-teaching style along with a wonderful colleague on two Kinder classes, we did talk a lot about what we were doing and what worked, etc… Good times:)

    The homework question… I have been thinking about this recently. My thoughts were, “geez this would create a lot of stress for families who have kids that don’t naturally want to sit down at a desk and work independently…. Is it really worth it, does it actually achieve anything?… and, shouldn’t we be encouraging kids to play/be creative/have fun/climb a tree, etc. in the minimal freedom time that they have in the afternoon?…”

    I took this question to my weekly family gathering, aka “morning tea”, with my aunts and cousins, and asked them if they thought homework was worth it. The general consensus what that it was a good way for parents to monitor how their kids were coping with their schoolwork. Some said that they enjoyed working together with their kids on “fun stuff”, others said it was a waste of time when their kids didn’t or couldn’t do it, and they had to do most of anyway. Maybe it should be optional?…. Just throwing that out there.

  2. Interesting points Michelle. I think that creating structures that promote teacher sharing (team teaching, alternate senior classes, cross curricular staged classes etc) are supremely healthy for making learning visible.

    I think the homework question invites us to re-think how and what we do in regards to this traditional concept. I wonder if we, as teachers, ask if the homework we set would engage and motivate us as learners. Its a worthwhile dialogue to have at a staff meeting, with the addition of exploring a Christian perspective on homework.

    Just throwing this out there with your idea …

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