February was a month in which we celebrated the @UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science @womeninscience. Alongside this, it was a month of significant voice from the international #WomenEd community, including making new coaching connections and the launch of @WomenEdNL. Meanwhile, in my daily work, the joy of being a part of young learners exploring the world on a daily basis continued in abundance.
Among my twitter #PLN, I noticed a growing dialogue about the importance of learners developing as people, and found myself reflecting on how we do this.
Following our Spring Parents Evening at school, I began analysing survey feedback about the areas of interest that parents wish to engage with in the school community. They were invited to evaluate some of the range of workshops, open door opportunities and curriculum events we offer to share our pedagogy, student work and experiences throughout the year.
Later that term, we hosted an organisation-wide Open Day during which we welcomed prospective families, who register interest in touring our schools, settling their children into a new school community, as well as on the spot visitors. The Open Day gives us the chance to engage in conversations about which factors most influence parent choice of school for their child or children.
Across a range of cultures and nationalities, the impression I gained from these key conversations is that personal development, and the visible qualities we encourage in young people are THE most central deciding factor.
I feel this confirms our philosophy to lean in and focus our thinking around:
- What kind of people do we want our youngsters to grow up to be?
- Which qualities we would like them to develop throughout their time with us?
- Which interpersonal qualities do they demonstrate when meeting and welcoming others to their community?
- How do they express their ideas and understanding of the world around them? How do they express how, very importantly, they learn?
It’s my belief that we learn in some way from every experience we meet, both self- made and designed by others.
So – as school leaders and educators, how DO we encourage young people to express how they learn and how much do we build that into our pedagogy and planning? Where do we build in reflective processes, questioning, platforms for feedback, student and staff peer evaluation & collaboration?
It’s challenging to find a formula that works, and experience shows us that there is no place for a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.
How does your organisation encourage this process?
Not sure where to start?
Here are my explorative discussion-starter suggestions:
- What aspects of pedagogy reflect an importance in student involvement in formulating their own next steps?
- How is learning structured to embrace a range of opportunities for students to feedback on how they learn and equally, what they feel about the teaching they receive?
- Does your leadership team schedule regular time for reflection on both learning outcomes, and learner feedback on teaching?
- How do you inform stakeholders of key initiatives, dialogue and learning strategies? Are parents in the loop, is there dialogue and opportunities for students to share their learning with their family, within a school setting?
- Does staff language and behaviour model the expected behaviour and learning attitudes for students?
- What does your organisation mantra ‘say’ about the core values that you endeavour to develop in the people in your community?
and especially …
- When you walk in the door, what ethos greets you? How is this conveyed in the fabric of the human as well as physical and visual atmosphere?
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