Enacting Distributed Leadership through a program of Instructional Coaching.

Despite the range of caveats surrounding the proposed benefits offered through the practice of distributed leadership, it remains a significant factor in the improvement of student outcomes across many schools.

In a purist sense, suggest Silcox, Boyd and Macneill (2015), a distributed leadership scenario is characterised by “a leadership culture where collaboration exists within the school … underpinned by both respect and trust between the individuals involved”; far from simple delegation they (Silcox, et al.) caution and certainly more than just an agreeable way to get teachers to do more work or accept directives from top down leadership structures.

Harris (2013) demonstrates that involvement in broad-based leadership enhances teachers’ self-efficacy, motivation and moral and generates a much higher commitment Continue reading “Enacting Distributed Leadership through a program of Instructional Coaching.”

Integrated Learning for the 21st Century School.

One of the really great initiatives I have seen coming out of high schools in the United States is the idea of Integrated Courses. These involve teachers from different departments working together to develop units of work that integrate content from each subject into the one course. The benefit to students is the opportunity for them to contextualise their learning across each subject within the framework of the integrated course topic. In doing so, they develop critical and creative thinking skills, enjoy a more authentic learning experience and have much more control over their learning.

Continue reading “Integrated Learning for the 21st Century School.”

A reflection upon (Instructional) Rounds

“Is it possible for one of our students to come to school on Monday morning and not speak for the entire week? Could they actually travel through all their classes and never speak?” [1]

This powerful and thought provoking statement emerged during an Instructional Rounds session and it is a great example of the types of thinking and analysis of teaching and learning that is achieved through the Instructional Rounds process. Instructional Rounds (or Rounds) is a system of lesson observations and analysis aimed at developing resolutions to problems of practice. Similar to the Japanese system of Lesson Study, Rounds are a disciplined way for educators to work together to improve instruction.[2]

Continue reading “A reflection upon (Instructional) Rounds”

Community Engagement for Equity in Education – Beyond the Factory Approach.

In response to the introduction of NAPLAN testing in Australia, Wilson and Hornsby (2014) wrote about a shrinking curriculum and increasing pressure on educators to teach to the test. My experience as a secondary school teacher over the past 9 years has reflected their concerns and I have not been immune from presenting students with a past HSC paper or two to complete. The problem with a narrow curriculum and teaching to the test; Wilson and Hornsby contend, is that it actually serves to reduce overall standards, fosters a climate of competition rather than collaboration and disregards the effectiveness of teaching to student interests and learning needs (pp 41-42).

Continue reading “Community Engagement for Equity in Education – Beyond the Factory Approach.”

How Formative is Assessment for Learning.

In one of my Professional Learning hubs this month we had a discussion about Formative Assessment. The discussion generally centred around the amount of work involved in establishing tasks and recording and analysing student data. This makes the most sense when you view formative assessment as an event, rather than a process. However, Formative Assessment doesn’t need to be a formalised task or activity where every student’s response is marked, recorded and analysed, instead, it can look more like a conversation where attention to student responses and ideas is used to recognise opportunities for future learning and direction. Continue reading “How Formative is Assessment for Learning.”

Lets play a game…

I was listening to a podcast by This American Life on the way to work this morning and the episode on “The Land of Make Believe” struck a chord with me as an educator. The story was about a family of 12 children who were raised on a boat, a play boat, in their backyard. So authentic was their experience – allocated ranks and roles on the ship – that it remains one of the most influential experiences of their lives.

Now the children didn’t live on the boat, it was merely the source of entertainment and play during their childhood. But as the (now adult) children reminisced about real night patrols, medic responsibilities and galley duties I reflected on how effective this type of exercise would be in the classroom. Continue reading “Lets play a game…”

The thing about Differentiation.

This year I worked with a number of colleagues to develop an online course on classroom differentiation, which was completed by all staff at my current school and another 500 or so teachers from around Australia and the globe. In this article, I would like to share some of the research presented within the course and explore some of the responses made by those learners who participated in the course.

A majority of our learners came from Australia and North America; however, we also had about 20% from Western Europe and 15% from Asia. With such a broad range of educational contexts to draw perspectives from it was interesting to find that most of the learners shared similar aspirations towards increasing the extent to which they differentiate their teaching and learning. Continue reading “The thing about Differentiation.”