Sharing Butterflies 

Image:  Edward Norton Lorenz’s strange attractor notion

In chaos theory, small causes can have a huge impact. This idea came to be known as the “butterfly effect” when half a century ago, meteorologist professor, Edward Norton Lorenz suggested that the flap of a butterfly’s wings might ultimately cause a tornado.

In 2013, Sir Tim Brighouse wrote an article for the Guardian ‘The butterfly effect in schools: sharing simple ideas can have a big impact’ where the ‘butterflies’ are the tips for teaching better. That same year, Alex Quigley followed up this article in Confident Leadership, when he wrote  ‘The Butterfly Effect in School’ in which he discussed the conditions needed for the butterfly to thrive. I was particularly struck by the three questions that the butterfly analogy sparked for Alex.

What are the ‘butterflies’ in my school and in my classroom?

What conditions do I need to create for ‘butterflies’ to flourish?

What classrooms and teachers provide the most fertile conditions for learning? Can we shine a light on those teachers and share their ‘butterflies’?

To aid the identification of ‘butterflies’ it is useful to have a good understanding of what the research tells us ‘great teaching’ is. I recommend reading the following as a starting point:

Inspiring Teachers Perspectives and Summary Report [Educational Development Trust 2016] 

What makes great teaching? [Professor Coe et al. Sutton Trust 2014]

Hattie Ranking: 195 Influences And Effect Sizes Related To Student Achievement [Visible Learning.Org 2016]

It is worth remembering that whilst teaching is an evidence based profesion, teachers are ‘actively’ gathering evidence every day as to ‘what’ has the most impact on student achievement for their children right now. Whilst, much of what is found is underpinned by the research – reassuring to know that ‘great’ practice stands the test of time – we must be mindful of a changing world and the individuality/complex needs of the children we are teaching today. What works with some children, may not work with others.

Some useful questions to ask prior to the collection of evidence of student learning:

What does success look like?

How will you measure success? E.g. Qualitative and quantitative data

How will you gather evidence of children’s thinking/learning prior to the teaching sequence, during and afterwards?

When/How do you and the children reflect on the impact of teaching/learning strategies? E.g. Reflective learning journals, daily/weekly

What direct/indirect evidence will you collect to evidence impact?

When/Where and to ‘whom’ will you share your butterflies?

There is nothing more powerful in schools than collective efficacy. Where there is an open-door culture. Where teachers are passionately ‘talking’ about teaching and learning and more importantly are empowered to learn from each other. Teachers respond positively, are more motivated and enthused when they don’t feel threatened by a fear of failure.

John Hattie discovered that teachers are far more likely to have a large and positive impact if they:

Are passionate about helping their students learn

Forge strong relationships with their students

Are clear about what they want their students to learn

Adopt evidence-based teaching strategies

Monitor their impact on students’ learning, and adjust their approaches accordingly

Actively seek to improve their own teaching

Are viewed by the students as being credible

How do you as leaders build collective efficacy in your schools? How many ‘butterflies’ are your teachers sharing?



Practical Strategies for Sharing Butterflies

1.  Attend and present at TeachMeets

2.  Teacher ‘Learning Wall’ in the Staffroom

3.  Be brave and video yourself

4.  Team Teach

5.  Lesson Study

6.  Keep a reflective learning journal

7.  Feedback Forum

8.  Connect with other professionals e.g. Twitter

9.  Write a blog

10. Join a research project

Strategies from the Literacy Wagoll Blog

 1) Speed dating – Staff members bring one short snappy idea that they use in their classroom. Each teacher sits facing another and they both share their idea, showing resources and explaining the impact it has on their children. Professionals rotate around until all ideas have been shared with everyone. Teachers can then vote for their favourite idea to take away and implement. by choosing specific themes, best practice can be share din focused areas that link to the School Improvement Plan.

2) Social Media Pages – One of the major barriers to sharing ideas is time. however, everyone finds time to flick through Facebook or Twitter. By creating a ‘Teaching and Learning’ page you can share best practice by literally putting it in their hands. Teachers will stumble upon new ideas that your social media page shares. These ideas can come from observed ideas from lessons or from external sources. As the page grows, you may find that teachers are willing to share their own ideas on the page when something has gone well in class.

3) 3 Minute Presentations – Before staff meetings take place allow an opportunity for a member of staff to share one strategy that works in their classroom. Their challenge is to explain and share within 3 minutes. This can occur at the beginning of the week, so that staff can be encouraged to give the idea a go in their own classrooms.

4) Ideas That Stick – A simple way to share ideas is by creating a teaching and learning display in the classroom. Teachers can stick an idea on a sticky note and post it onto the board. The board can have a variety of categories which help teachers navigate around the display to find fresh new ideas that are relevant to them.

5) The Market Place – Teachers can bring an idea that they use in the classroom and set up a small market stall displaying their best practice. Teachers can move around and talk to teachers about their ideas and the impact they have had on their children. This is a great event to invite other local schools to so that teachers gain new teaching strategies from outside their school.

Eight Keys for Transformative School Design via ASCD Express

Gearing Up for ChangeJuly 27, 2017 | Volume 12 | Issue 22 

Eight Keys for Transformative School Design

Reblogged by @splozza

Eric Sheninger and Thomas C. Murray

Change is not just coming to education; it is already on our doorstep. With advances in technology and a radically evolving society, it is incumbent upon schools to take a critical lens to their culture and determine whether students will be prepared to succeed in the new world of work. Our students need to be able to create new industries, find new cures, and solve tomorrow’s global problems. We have identified eight keys to design tomorrow’s schools so that today’s learners are prepared for success far beyond earning a high school diploma. Each of these eight keys serves as a puzzle piece for redesigning the education system.

Leadership and school culture lay the foundation for improvement. School improvement efforts rely heavily on collaborative leadership. Education leaders are tasked with establishing a collective vision for school improvement and with initiating change to spur innovation, ensure student learning, and increase achievement. In a world where the acceleration of change continues to grow exponentially, school cultures need to evolve at a faster rate to keep pace. A new foundation must be established through relationship-oriented, innovative leadership practices to create a culture of learning that will prepare students for their future, not our past.

The learning experience must be redesigned and made personal. Studies in neuroscience have indicated that students typically forget most of the fact-based information that they memorize while in school. Shoving this information into students’ brains wastes time and resources, while engagement plummets. Learners crave the opportunity to follow their passions, explore their interests, and engage in relevant opportunities. Student agency in classrooms (voice, choice, and advocacy) must become the norm, not the exception. Instructional pedagogy must focus on higher-order skills and problem solving, while anytime, anywhere learning must become a realistic possibility for today’s learners.

Decisions must be grounded in evidence and driven by a “return on instruction” (ROI). The evolution of educational structures has created a generation of students focused on grades, not learning. Students need to be afforded authentic opportunities to use real-world tools to do real-world work that matters. Improving assessment is a step in the right direction, but a more concerted effort to provide evidence that technology affects learning and achievement is needed. There must be an ROI that gives evidence of improved student learning outcomes supported by data (qualitative and quantitative), artifacts, improved observation/evaluation procedures, and portfolios.

Learning spaces must become learner-centered. A shift in pedagogy mandates a shift in learning space design. Such changes are not merely isolated ideas drawn from the latest Pinterest board, but rather wholesale reorientations born of necessity. Schools and classrooms must be transformed from a teacher-centered, industrial-era model to personal, learner-centered spaces that correlate with research on how design influences learning. Learning spaces need to be flexible, provide areas for movement, and promote collaboration and inquiry.

Professional learning must be relevant, engaging, ongoing, and personal. Various studies indicate that the top-down, one-size-fits-all, hours-based, sit-and-get approach to professional learning has little to no effect on student achievement. Nevertheless, many schools continue down this path. A more personalized approach to professional learning, where growth is valued more than hours obtained, is needed to shift instructional pedagogy.

Technology must be used to accelerate student learning. Many of today’s classrooms use amazing 21st-century tools in 20th century learning environments. Research indicates that one of the most common forms of integration—using tablets or other devices as platforms for digital drill-and-kill—has no effect on achievement. School districts continue to buy more educational technology than ever before, often with little to show for it. However, when it is effectively used, technology can amplify great instruction, adapt to the individual needs of the learner, and make learning more personal. Transformative school design promotes responsible use of and equitable access to technology.

Community collaboration and engagement must be woven into the fabric of a school’s culture. Parents are instrumental in their children’s academic success. Yet while some schools work to create a welcoming environment, many others create cultures in which parents hardly feel welcome at all. The majority of businesses and universities have little to no relationship with their local schools. From daily collaboration to consistent, relevant communications, today’s schools need to be collaborative partners and the hub of the local community.

Schools that successfully transform learning long-term are financially, politically, and pedagogically sustainable. A budget impasse. A political attack. A shift in instructional pedagogy. How will your school district’s success stand the test of time? With the average district superintendent tenure lasting only a handful of years and the pending retirement of a generation of experienced school leaders, long-term sustainability is needed to avoid turmoil that will negatively affect future generations. Is your school built to last?

It’s time to fundamentally redesign schools to overcome obstacles, help families break the chains of poverty, and provide dynamic learning opportunities for all students. We must create and lead schools that are relevant for the world our students live in—not the world we grew up in— starting now. The solution begins with you!
Eric Sheninger is a senior fellow and thought leader on digital leadership and learning with the International Center for Leadership in Education. Thomas C. Murray serves as the director of innovation for Future Ready Schools, a project of the Alliance for Excellent Education, located in Washington, D.C. Preview their new book, Learning Transformed: 8 Keys to Designing Tomorrow’s Schools, Today.

 

ASCD Express, Vol. 12, No. 22. Copyright 2017 by ASCD. All rights reserved. Visit http://www.ascd.org/ascdexpress.

Is the Tide Turning? Hope for Struggling Schools

Justine Greening’s speech at the Sutton Trust’s Mobiity Summit must have given a glimmer of hope to every leader currently serving in schools with challenging contexts.
It’s been a long time coming, but as James Bowen, Director of NAHT Edge, wrote recently in the TES ‘Greening’s signals for a less ‘punitive’ approach towards struggling schools’ could be the ‘light we’ve been waiting to see.’

It has been well documented that disadvantaged contexts impact hugely on both educational attainment and school quality, which are typically lower than that of other schools. This is primarily due to the difficulties with the recruitment of high-quality teaching staff, limited ‘short-life’ funding, high levels of pupil mobility and the increasingly low starting points of children, who are ‘quite frankly’ just not ‘school ready’ upon entry. Yet, despite these facts being widely cited, schools continue to be battered by high-level, punitive accountability measures. Is the tide about to turn?

Greening acknowledges that: “We do need to move away from a perception of a reliance on a pure punitive intervention approach. We need to, moreover, move towards a culture of having the right support in the right places at the right time, and I think for too long our strategy hasn’t had that breadth to it, and perhaps that clarity around it.”

Yes, Ms Greening, we do indeed need to move towards a culture of support, rather than this prescriptive, short-sighted approach that sees some leaders reduced to ‘playing the numbers game’ rather than incentivising them to play for the long-term gains that can only be achieved when ‘time’ and ‘money’ are factored into the equation.
As someone who has the privilege of working across schools with some of the ‘highest levels’ of deprivation in the country. I see first-hand just what our ‘amazing leaders’ are doing for the life chances of the children in their care. Actions, that simply cannot be measured under our current, narrow ‘data driven’ system. For the 3.7 million children living in poverty in the UK, their most basic needs must be met first – before the learning process can start.

I don’t know of any leader who would argue against the need to improve. We just need to be really clear about what we mean by ‘improve’.

Leaders, in particularly challenging contexts are generally ‘pretty special people’ who go above and beyond the call of duty to ‘improve’ the quality of life for the children in their care. They know, that success for our poorest children cannot really be measured ‘fully’ until they reach adulthood. When it is hoped, that despite the challenges they faced as children, of low aspirations, low income and unemployment, poor housing, poor health, tiredness and hunger, they emerge fully prepared from our education system, with the knowledge, skills and understanding to take their place in society. This can only be achieved, when leaders of our schools in challenging contexts, across all phases,  ensure that our poorest children are fed during term time and through the holidays; make provision if they need a place to sleep during the school day; enrich their lives through engaging learning experiences and above all, keep them safe, loved and nurtured – because that is what our poorest children need.


It is with this relentless focus on ‘improving’ the life chances for our poorest children that will give them the fighting chances as adults, to compete against their more privileged counterparts in securing a sustainable income through long-term employment and a longer life expectancy. Surely, that is the real measure of success?

Most leaders are guided by a strong moral compass who genuinely want to make a difference for children. Yet when you hear of dedicated leaders exiting the profession due to the stress caused when a set of results does not meet the ‘required standard’ and the context of the ‘why’ is pretty much ignored. You know that we haven’t got it right YET!

We all need to work together to secure school improvement in our most struggling schools. This improvement must be contextualised because there is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution to the challenges they are facing. Schools serving depriving communities need ‘time’ to improve outcomes for children.

Fund them well – and let them lead the way!

#5priorities

  

Scintillating Sketchnotes!

Mike Rohde, author of The Sketchnote Handbook, defines Sketchnotes “as rich visual notes created from a mix of handwriting, drawings, hand-drawn typography, shapes, and visual elements like arrows, boxes, and lines.”

For me they are  a succinct, visual summary of key ideas, connections and hierarchies. Really great sketchnoters can capture and communicate the true essence of a presentation. I love them. So, should we be encouraging students to make sketchnotes in the classroom? Would they give us a greater insight into their understanding of concepts/ideas? Are they an effective way to make learning truly visible? To make thinking visible?

Katrina Schwartz, who writes for KQED’s education blog MindShift, published the article ‘Making Learning Visible: Doodling Helps Memories Stick’ in 2015.


Katrina writes that the use of sketchnotes ‘makes student learning visible and provides a valuable formative assessment tool. If a student sketches an interesting side note in the lesson, but misses the big themes, that will show up in her drawing. And when students share their drawings with one another, they have the chance to fill in the gaps in their knowledge, and drawings, while discussing the key ideas. Going over the drawings also solidifies the information for students.’

Sarah Wood @woodsar, Technology & Media Integration Specialist for Godfrey-Lee Public Schools blogged in The Bulletin that ‘Sketchnotes allows students to make their thinking visible, it is important as the teacher/facilitator that you model and be willing to share your own work.’

Sarah’s blog has links to class sketchnotes. Check out the Graffitti Wall below. Such a great idea!


I wonder how many educators are using sketchnotes in the classroom. It would be great to hear from you.

Some of my favourites from the fabulous Sylvia Duckworth!



Featured image by Silvia Tolisano, Educational Consultant GloballyConnectedLearning.com 21st Century Learning Specialist- Technology Integration- World Language Teacher.

The Revolving Door of Headteachers

We are facing a recruitment crisis. We all know it – despite having to constantly hear from the government that teacher numbers are rising and that it is the unions talking down the profession. As a member of the NAHT Executive I take particular exception to this. When you sit in a room with colleagues from around the country and hear how they are all struggling to recruit. Let’s be clear about this. Houston we have a problem!

Yet, this crisis is not just about teachers. We are facing a crisis in recruiting headteachers (not just this side of pond either). The Times recently carried out research that revealed that one in ten schools is losing its headteacher each year. Some schools have been left without a head for up to three years and that some local authorities have seen more headteachers leaving the past five years that the number of schools in the area.

‘Schools are blighted by a revolving door of head teachers as many of them retire or take early retirement, leave the profession, take up opportunities abroad…’



The million dollar question of course is – what is the answer to this crisis? I was at a recent event listening to an Ofsted Inspector talking about leadership and succession planning. Herein lies the challenge. In order to plan for succession you need teachers to stay in education for more than a couple of years and you need experienced leaders stay in education, so as to role model great leadership to them. When asked if Ofsted had a solution – it was neatly batted back to the profession as our problem to solve. Great! Leaders are leaving in droves – we are struggling to recruit teachers – budgets are being slashed. Thanks for that! Fortunately, we are a driven and solution focussed profession!

Yes, Mr Ofsted Inpsector we can identify talent. Yes, we can fast-track this talent. Yes, we can take the altruistic approach and applaud when our teachers and leaders leave schools and join others knowing that they are still in the system. If only this was a true reflection of the educational landscape. In reality, if you are trying to turn a school around and you also happen to be located in an area of deprivation and in a known hard to recruit area – it is a mammoth task trying to get teachers in schools and then get them to stay. Leaders of these schools are taking ‘resilience’ to another level, when constantly faced with having to rely on the revolving door of supply teachers just to get someone in class (at least someone is profiting). I’m not even going to go into the numerous other challenges faced by our increasingly stressed headteachers.

So, and the reason for my blog. Let’s champion our leaders. I would like to invite leaders to share their success stories with the world via the twittersphere using #talkupleaders (here I must thank Paul Garvey of Talk for Teaching who started #talkupteaching you can follow him @PaulGarvey4).

Let’s spread some light and positivity on our epic profession! #talkupleaders


21 Tips for Connecting Learners to Their Community by Becs Boyd via Getting Smart

http://www.gettingsmart.com/2017/01/21-tips-connecting-learners-to-community/

This is a really interesting article written by Becs Boyd who explored place-based education programs throughout the Pacific Northwest through a Churchill fellowship. She resides in Scotland.

The article explores how ‘Community Based approaches can be transformative for students, teachers, schools and communities. Making these approaches work means taking a fresh look at the school community, the wider community and the environment, and working out how they can best support each other. Change takes time, and success, naturally, relies on a healthy physical and social learning environment with good relationships between educators, administrators and students. Many schools will already be connecting students with their local Place and helping them discover how to make their own place in the world a positive one.’

This blog identifies some pointers drawn from the experiences of real schools, students and teachers to help plant the seeds of Place in new school communities.

I have just listed the headings – click on the link above  to read more.

1) Learning and Caring About Place

2) Responsible Citizens

3) Active learners
4) Effective contributors

5) School in community

6) Relevant for the real world

Key questions arising:

How do you promote a culture of care?

How do you empower your students to make a difference in the local environment and community, creating caring local and global citizens?

Do you encourage ‘whole school’ learning that involves all students across all ages and classes.

How do you encourage students to learn by doing and be ‘creators’ of knowledge, with the teacher as a guide and co-learner who may not have all the ‘answers’.

Do you make students’ concerns and questions central to the learning agenda? How do you capture this? How often?

Is your school a model for a sustainable community that can act as a learning hub and role model for the wider community? If not – how will you make this happen? Are you outward looking and ambitious for your school?

Want to know more about Place-Based Education?

www.gettingsmart.com/categories/series/place-based-education/

www.edutopia.org/blogs/tag/place-based-learning

What is place-based learning?