There were many wonderful ideas and thoughts presented to us by David Warlick (@dwarlick) at the Focus Day this past Friday. Instead of trying to share all that I learned in one VERY long blog post, I have decided to write a few shorter posts.
David Warlick started the day by reminding us that
“We know almost NOTHING about the future for our children. This is the first time in history that we don’t know what the future will be like for our students.”
Things are changing so rapidly today – like never before.
With this in mind, and knowing how different our children are today (their families, their life, their experience, their knowledge, their interests, their learning styles, and their brains), we really need to think about how we are teaching our students. We need to be more reflective and design our lessons to try to ensure our students are more engaged in their learning.
David Warlick shared a checklist which he thinks would be great for teachers to use when planning their lessons. While we know that not all lessons will have these characteristics, they are important to keep in mind and strive toward.
Checklist for Lessons (for teachers)
- Guided by Safely Made Mistakes – It is when we make mistakes that we truly learn. It is imperative that we create a safe environment for our students where mistakes are valued and even encouraged. We need to model and acknowledge our own mistakes as well (yes, we all make them).
- Inspires Personal Investment – How can I inspire? How do we show our students that what they are doing is valuable. It is when they see the value in what they are doing that they will be inspired to continue.
- Provokes Conversation – How can the learning experience require learners to exchange knowledge? Children are in constant conversations with people all day long – in person, via text messaging, via skype, via facebook, etc… The list goes on and on. How can we take our knowledge of this and use it to our advantage? How can we get our students talking with each other (and others) in a meaningful way?
- Responsiveness – How can we make the learning experience talk back to our learners? Children today thrive on interaction with others. They thrive on the social experience. How can we help nurture this responsive environment in our lessons and in our classrooms?
While I agree that this checklist would be very beneficial if used by teachers when planning their lessons, I also believe that our schools would also benefit greatly if the leaders of our schools also used this checklist in their leadership.
As leaders, we need to try to ensure that our staff work in an environment where they feel safe to try new things and know that they will be supported in their successes AND their mistakes.
It is when our teachers and staff have a personal investment in their teaching and their student’s learning that the real difference is made. They need to be encouraged and their value needs to be acknowledged and celebrated.
Ongoing conversation is very important for our schools to improve and move forward. We are moving into unknown territory in education and learning. These are areas we need to have ongoing discussions about with our staff (and students, and parents). Without ongoing conversation about these important topics, changes will not occur.
How are we making our schools responsive? How are we encouraging discussions, questions, thoughts, and feelings? How are we engaging our staff members, our parents, and our students?
If we want our teachers to use a checklist like this in the planning of their lessons, then we should try to ensure we are using this same checklist to guide our leadership in and around our school.
What are your thoughts?
If you are a teacher, would you find this checklist helpful?
If you are a leader in education, how many of the items on this checklist do you use in your leadership? Is this checklist helpful in your leadership?