Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Teachers at ASHS keep relevant by engaging with research.

As a profession we have to stay at the top of our game. If you are a teacher reading this and you are teaching in the same way that you did ten years ago, five years ago, two years ago, then you are missing out on huge and wonderful opportunities to learn and grow and improve your practice. You run the risk of becoming irrelevant. If you are a leader then it is even more important for you to stay relevant so that you can genuinely lead pedagogy in your schools.

At the end of last year teachers at ASHS were put into eleven groups and were asked to share read a current research book. There were eleven different titles.

Here is the list of books.
  • Hanging In – Strategies for teaching the students who challenge us most – Jeffrey Benson
  • Simply Better – Doing what matters most – Bryan Goodwin
  • New Kinds of Smart – Bill Lucas and Guy Claxton
  • Results Now – Mike Schmoker
  • Building Learning Power – Guy Claxton
  • Mindset – Carol Dweck
  • The Element – Ken Robinson
  • Visible Learning for Teachers – John Hattie
  • Leadership Mindsets – Preparing young people for the future with lessons from the past – Linda Kaser and Judy Halbet
  • Student Centred Leadership Viviane Robinson
  • Trivium 21C – Preparing young people for the future with lessons from the past – Martin Robinson
 And here is the great work which was part of the presentations that our teachers completed. As you can see, most groups were able to be in contact with the authors and in some cases the authors have become guides for us in our continuing progress.

Donald Trump highlights need for critical pedagogy.

All those people who are voting to have Donald Trump as President have spent a portion of their lives in schools. It's a horrifying thought. Worse is that Donald Trump has been in school (undoubtedly a very expensive private school).

It surely highlights for us the urgency for teaching our students to be critical in their thinking. Lots of things get landed at the feet of schools -like obesity, bullying, violence,smoking, drugs and I always think how unfair those claims are BUT I don't think we can sidestep this one. This has to land squarely with us.

Obviously with the man himself the nonsense that comes out of his mouth is cleverly designed to seduce the masses of people who will vote for him. He knows our education system has failed. He knows that with huge numbers of people the more brazen and cavalier he becomes the more adoration he will get.
He has answers which satisfy people's unwillingness to think and reflect. He doesn't even bother to try and sound reasonable in any way. AND he may end up leading a country which celebrates its ability to think freely.

So let's get right back to thinking about what we do in schools to educate our students to think seriously and deeply about issues that affect their lives.

Here are some questions for all of us.

1) How seriously and how deliberately do we teach our students to think critically ?
2) What happens in every classroom every day that encourages students to think critically ?
3) How do we as leaders support our teachers to be teachers of critical thinking?
4) What do we know about critical pedagogy ?
5) Are we so bound by NCEA and other exam structures that we teach knowledge and then with no critical dialectic jump straight to having students writing answers ?

And I guess the biggest question that we have to grapple with is ----
How do we protect our world from the likes of Donald Trump?

There is a lesson to be learnt here for all of us.