After a long hiatus from blogging I am ready to jump back into this space to reflect on professional learning and I am excited to be inspired from the benefits of doing so!
Just recently I was pondering over the fact that I have probably read and edited thousands of pieces of work by students, and indeed by teachers over the years, and the unique power that just a small word can contain. It is a constant resonating theme in educational circles – how to provide the best feedback to others? How can we best foster growth and learning, and guide the recipient? Most recently of course the discussion around growth mindset and praising effort rather than achievement has also weighed in heavily in debate and discussion about the words we choose; how we present this; and ultimately refocused us to consider what do we want to achieve with our words.
In my role as a primary school principal it has been fascinating to open and provoke discussion about how we as a primary school team fulfill our mission and aspirations as educators to inspire our students and encourage them to strive as learners. We began this school year with a newly designed set of community values, which are proving to be more powerful than I ever thought to imagine. Four simple questions that ask each individual to consider is a choice they are making, or are observing, fair, safe, respectful and positive have resulted in more natural reflection from us all. This also results in less need to develop endless, and sometimes needless rules, and placed emphasis upon all of us as having power over our decisions. It is a powerful shift to include every individual no matter how young or old in an ‘active’ rather than passive state. A rule can be dismissed as happening to someone, a decision or choice being made is an action being taken and automatically infers ownership. It is indeed early on in our adoption of these Community Values, so of course time will tell, but the subtle shift has already made an impact.
small words, Big Changes…..
Another aspect of how small words have a big impact has been our recent discussion, debate and exploration of reward based classroom management systems. As a primary team we have provoked questioning of how we approach classroom management and really begun to delve deep into the idea that we could and should do things differently. Why? Are practices ‘bad’ that are currently in use. No, this is not the question or assumption at all, but rather how can we do things better? How should we do things better? Ultimately, looking at our mission and educational philosophy statements to critically reflect and align best teaching and learning practices. Following a series of professional learning sessions devoted to this topic we are, I believe, committed as a team to consider all of the small words we use and see what Big Changes might happen. I would love to hear about other schools and teachers engaged in discussion about these topics!
Interesting reading we collected as part of our discussion can be found here on our shared padlet.