WOW! As expected, this week has been a whirlwind of planning…thinking about the needs of our learners (both adult and student) and the associated goals and strategies to achieve those goals. A great deal of attention has been spent on how we are going to monitor our goals alongside the learners, to ensure that everyone sees themselves as growing. Recognizing our success is motivational!
A tension that has once again emerged in this process is the need to balance the urgent learning needs of our students with the learning interests of our educators. We know from our Conditions for Learning that to achieve that permanent change in thinking and behaviour that defines learning (Katz and Dack) the learner needs to see the learning as important to them, relevant to their world, and job-embedded.
So how do we achieve this balance? It begins with engaging educators in relevant data. We need to spend a great deal of time digging into all of the available data sources that reveal the needs of the learners. This takes time and cannot be rushed, however often we feel the pressure to get to the planning and stage and thus, potentially miss what the most urgent need is. If educators don’t engage in this process (admittedly a process that is time consuming and not all that exciting for some), they don’t develop the urgency around the needs that become apparent, and thus, they are not motivated to address these needs. This process is one that we can describe as being “done to” rather than “done with” the learner. To aid in this process, the leader is encouraged to do their homework ahead of time, and to thus present the data in a way that helps the educators to see the trends in a time efficient manner. If we engage educators in a clear process whereby they help to determine the area of greatest learning needs for students, they will engage from the start as they have been a key part of the process.
However, what about the scenarios whereby the educator expresses their own need to learn about other aspects of the profession? They require support, for example, in planning? We need to support these educators as well. As leaders of professional learning we know that we need to find a way to honour these needs, perhaps by embedding these needs into the Professional Learning Cycle, or, if not possible, finding alternative ways to support these needs. It has to be remembered that the most urgent learning needs of the students are those that are reflected by the School Learning Plan; this strategy is being monitored and measure directly for impact. There are many other areas of need that continue to be addressed, however we are not formally monitoring or measuring the impact of this learning upon students.
And then there is the learning that we are engaging in outside of school – that which is done independently and which defines us as a “profession”. The following blog grabbed my attention:
Until next week…How are you balancing the urgent learning needs of our students with the learning interests of our educators to achieve our Conditions for Learning? Let’s generate some ideas in the #NMCblog (shared with the National Marker Company!!).