Tag Archives: Culture

Learner Agency & the Instructional Core

Learner Agency is widely discussed in education circles with growing numbers of educators producing articles on the benefits of building the capacity of learners.

What is necessary to develop a sense of agency?

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Emirbayer, M., & Mische, A.(1998). What is agency? American Journal of Sociology, 103, 9621023.10.1086/ajs.1998.103.issue-4

Three main ideas which enable agency appear to be consistent across all articles I’ve read:

  1. Is in the present- the now
  2. Personal experience and the importance of a wide variety of experience
  3. Setting goals and knowing how to achieve these goal

At my last school we investigated Learner Agency and how we could develop agency within the school program. Equally, around this time I was fortunate to be invited to participate in the Southern Metropolitan Region Principals’ Instructional Rounds program. Whenever discussing learning in schools we referred to the Instructional Core. The Instructional Core is: Student-Teacher-Task and Interaction. Understanding the core and using Instructional Rounds protocols highlighted the importance of  planning to enable agency.

The Instructional Core is very relevant to agency. Learning experiences need to be designed to promote agency.

Agency IB

The above IB document is an excellent place to start as it encourages schools to look at their current practice. When we know where we are, we can plan how we move forward.

Cheers Nina

Next Post: Writing strategies which promote learner agency.

 

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IB-PYP Attitudes & Workplace Attitudes: How do you ‘grow’ attitudes?

workplace-bullying-1057606I’m a member of a number of teacher forums and have been surprised by the increasing number of teachers looking to leave our profession. Some of these teachers are still in their first years of teaching and some are very experienced. What I found confronting was… that it is not always the classroom, students, work load or parents creating issues, it is the behaviour of other teacher colleagues and the employment process!

Some comments I’ve received have come from teachers who have been through a competitive employment process within their school. Most have been retained by their respective schools, however, the process has left them feeling over whelmed, isolated and criticised.

Can you build a team environment and promote collaboration when the system of employment is ultimately competitive?

Please email me your thoughts. I receive more emails than comments on my blog and I’m hoping this will bring about future discussion.

How would you change the current system of school employment and is it even possible?

I  recently received a detailed comment from a teacher feeling bullied and isolated. How can this happen in an organisation and world which openly states bullying is not OK? Programs are in place to teach children that we do not tolerate these behaviours and there are consequences. What do you do if the behaviour is coming from a colleague?

All schools have beliefs/attitudes promoted within their community. When walking into a school or classroom these attitudes are clearly displayed for all to see and are crucial to the ethos of the school.

mile shoeThe IB -PYP has attitudes which are essential to the programme. They are: appreciation, commitment, confidence, cooperation, creativity, curiosity, empathy, enthusiasm, independence, integrity, respect and tolerance.

These attitudes are taught, valued and embedded within the school curriculum and should be the ‘heart’ of the school. So how do educators ‘grow’ these attitudes in their students and within their community? How can schools insure and assess that these attitudes are embedded, valued and exhibited in the everyday actions of all community members.

How do educators ‘grow’ these attitudes within themselves?

Lots of wonderings here…but I think as learners teaching learners, we should all reflect on our interactions with others and hope that we have been the best we can be.

Maybe, before we think and say something, we should put on someone elses shoes on and go for a walk. Just saying…

Cheers Nina

 

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Communication & Leadership-Revisited

LeadershipRecently I’ve noticed that one of my posts is receiving many views. The post is about communication and leadership which I wrote after attending the Leadership for Community Engagement program. One of the program leaders was Dr Elizabeth Mellor and I wrote a summary of her ideas in a previous post which I have reposted below.

You, as a leader, will be different to a manager, you will be finding solutions, you will use your courage and confidence to influence others, you will speak a common language and find that common language so you can move forward. You will empower others and be an enabler so you can shift barriers. You will encourage others to ‘think big’ and work towards delivering transformational change. You will coach others on how to measure change, be respectful and a listener so you understand and collaborate.

You will not shy from anything and you will get in and learn. You will empower others to solve problems because you can’t fix it all. You will take risks and from taking risks you will gain experience to put into other aspects of your role. You will give others a voice and act on what they want and work side by side with them to achieve your common goals. You will be capable of ‘unlearning’ and not be judgmental. You will build a ‘treasury’ of good practice to help you evaluate actions and capture what has been learnt so you can measure the impact of changes and improvements.

And finally, you will deliver to every child and family. Your flexibility will be key to you being a leader, as without flexibility you will impede innovation. You, as a leader, must leave the profession in a better state and by building the capacity of others you should do yourself out of a job!

Cheers Nina

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Part 1: Student Agency? Teacher Agency? School Agency? Customization-Motivation-Equalization: School Culture

Why is student agency, teacher agency and school agency and the customization of learning crucial to motivation and equalization? We need to talk about agency on many levels.

Tom Vander Ark in his video talks about key attributes required to develop school agency and student agency.

Agency and Technology – Tom Vander Ark

Article: Elements of High School Agency Environments by Marie Bjerede Dec 17th, 2015

According to Tom Vander Ark Student agency has three key features:

Customization-individualized learning path

Motivation-student motivation is key

Equalization-all students-all ability levels

In a school with high agency Tom Vander Ark states that students with agency will be able to answer the following questions.

  • What are you learning?
  • Why are you learning this?
  • What do you need to do to move to the next level?
  • How they will learn.
  • How they will demonstrate.

Tom Vander Ark calls this: VOICE & CHOICE

High agency students:

  • Customize their learning
  • Have intrinsic motivation
  • Co-curator of their pathway
  • Have efficacy

The relationship between agency and learning:

Students with high agency are able to transfer knowledge. These students have deeper skills.

  • Think critically
  • Collaborate
  • Think Creatively

What does a school look like that supports agency?

Culture:

  • Relationship between students and teachers.
  • Respected as learners
  • Responsibility as learners

Advisory:

  • Pairing of a group of students with a teacher possibly for their whole education at a particular school (critical in secondary schools)
  • Meet 2/3 times a week
  • Build relationship with students
  • Advocate for that group of students

Learning:

  • Voice & Choice
  • Some path flexibility
  • Publishing to a broader audience
  • A portfolio

Next post:  So how does a teacher develop agency?

Cheers Nina

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Communication and Leadership – Can they ever be separated? Anthony Semann: Director of Semann and Slattery- Research and Consultancy Service.

A number of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet, and listen to Anthony Semann when he presented at the Leadership for Community Engagement Program funded by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Southern Metropolitan Region, Victoria, Australia, jointly with Noah’s Ark Inc, of which I am a participant.

Anthony’s presentation focused on communication, and referred to a number of theorists, however, it was his personal experiences, and anecdotes which ‘grabbed’ my attention. There were so many ideas presented, and I’m sharing the ideas which made me reflect.

Rather than write this formally, I’ve decided to record the points I found significant for me. Others present may have taken away different thoughts, as we all take on new learning at our ‘point of need’ and construct our knowledge differently.

Anthony’s Ideas, Quotes and Anecdotes:

  • Leadership has to be contextual; it has to relate to your communication. Timing your communication is crucial. All good intentions put aside, we need to think about timing. ‘Windows of time offer us a gift’, and we need to look for these ‘windows of opportunity’.
  • Anthony also spoke about a mirror, and what we  see in a mirror. How do we look to others? Is the leadership driven by ego? Thinking of ‘a mirror’ reminds people of what other’s see, as you need to care about what people think about you – to be heard!
  • When communicating, you can control what you say, but not what is heard … you can question to clarify.
  • Positioning yourself to be heard – passion can take over. How can you communicate with integrity? Integrity is vital to high level communication. ‘No knowledge is neutral’.
  • In our meeting structures, we don’t always ‘create a space’ for communication. A lot of the communication is a ‘dump’ of administration etc. ‘ Cull agendas! Talk about pedagogy and good practice…’ Everyone can talk, otherwise ‘it can be discrimitive’.
  • Question yourselves: Does my communication and body language serve me well?
  • How should leadership look like in your sector? What do we want from our leaders? How will we know the impact or effectiveness of our sector’s leadership? Anthony brought up the notion that there is a ‘dark side’ to leadership, and that we can all slip into this. Don’t!

How would you answer these Identity Questions?

  • I am a leader who desires….
  • I am a leader who finds strength in…
  • I am a leader who is fearful of…
  • Understand the ‘intentionality of leadership’. Truly develop an understanding of the effect your communication has on you, and the impact you have on others. Think of the ‘human spirit’. Understand Emotional Intelligence. ‘It’s not what is said, it’s what’s not said’. This is something we all need to reflect on…

A leader serves by making / giving:

  • Freedom
  • Agency
  • Power

Anthony used the words of Heifetz & Linsky 2009,

Both your survival and your success depend on your skill at reaching a true understanding of the varying perspectives among the factions. Learn from their stakes and fears. As social workers say, ‘Start where people are at.’. . . After hearing their stories, you need to take the provocative step of making an interpretation that gets below the surface. You have to listen to the song beneath the words.”  

  • He also introduced a pie graph to us made up of 1/3 the Head, 1/3 the Heart and 1/3 the Hand. Think, Feel, and Behave! He reminded us of ‘talk to me, not about me, make people accountable for their actions, voice and ask yourself as many questions as you ask others. Leaders need to put ‘feathers in other’s backs, not take away. Put a feather in someone’s back each day, so they can fly’.

And finally, ‘Trust, and be life-giving, not life depleting and when you’re having success share it!

Anthony knows that I’m sharing his presentation here, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for giving those who attended such a valuable insight into communication and leadership.

To answer Anthony’s initial question: Leadership and Communication – Can they ever be separated? The answer is clearly ‘no’!

My finishing comment is: Anthony’s messages relate to all communication in life, not just that of leaders! 

Sorry this took so long to post, Anthony! Thanks again!

Cheers Nina

Addition: Have been reading Mark Walker’s Blog – excellent article on Leadership. Link: http://mwalker.com.au/?p=1653  Worth spending some time in his space.

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