As a school district, we have recognized that our most urgent need is to increase student engagement, perseverance and motivation, as we know that these will strongly impact the sense of belonging that our learners (both adult and students) have, and thus positively impact student achievement. Consequently, for the past year, our collective work has been focused on unpacking student centered learning and pedagogy as the overarching concept behind these pieces. We have recognized that “We need to re-ignite the hunger for learning that many students lose along the way” (http://www.competencyworks.org/analysis/mindsets-and-student-agency/).
This work has required us to engage in learning about the conditions that need to be in place for learning to happen, how we can explicitly teach and support mindsets, and of course, the Assessment for and as Learning strategies, as when educators use these strategies, the focus becomes on the “learning”, rather than on the” doing” and thus, provides an opportunity for learners to engage in a much deeper form of learning.
“Deeper learning requires students to think, question, pursue, and create—to take agency and ownership of their learning. When they do, they acquire deeper understanding and skills, and most important, they become more competent learners in and out of school. They become better prepared to succeed in academics, but also in 21st century careers and in life.”(http://www.competencyworks.org/analysis/mindsets-and-student-agency/)
When we engage in self-assessment and collect evidence about where we are on this journey, we recognize that we are in the beginning and partial implementation stages whereby many have the theoretical understanding and are working towards putting this understanding into practice in their learning environments. One significant body of evidence that continues to to inform our self-assessment are the number of staff who are simply becoming “risk takers” and trying things out – they aren’t waiting for the exact answer, but understand that they learn through experience, not by someone telling them how to do the work. They know that our goal isn’t to be perfect, but to engage in practice, discussion of impact, and refinement…all leading to new learning (sounds like the growth mindset at work.) The result is that some educators are realizing true learning…”a permanent change in thinking and behaviour” (Katz and Dack, 2011), rather than compliance behaviour whereby no thinking is taking place and thus, no real learning. These educators are overheard discussing both successes and areas of challenge, and are open to suggestions from colleagues. This evidence is becoming apparent in more and more schools as they shift from the culture of doing to the culture of learning.
However, there is still work to be done! I would invite you to have a read of the following article as once again, Eduardo Briceño helps us to make valuable connections and reminds us of essential conditions that we must teach our learners so that this deeper level of learning, and thus engagement and belonging, can be fully realized. I look forward to your posts!
“We can’t force students to develop agency and drive their own learning. It must come from within. Deeper learning instructional practices, such as using student-centered and self-directed learning methods, encouraging collaboration, and incorporating real-world projects, interviews, case studies and explorations, result in prolific learning when students are ready to drive their own learning. But using these practices is not always sufficient for students to truly take the reins. So what else do they need in order to get in the driver’s seat, take agency, and dive deep? And how do we help them do so?“
Until Next Week…consider your own “class/learners”, what is one next step that you immediately identified? For our principals, how does this step align with your POP/Growth Plan success criteria?