A generalisation of Hattie’s work is that the models around student learning are less important than the implementation process and commitment from teachers. I say generalisation because his meta-analysis of best practices can be a little bit overwhelming, a little bit condescending and a little bit rock and roll (or is that Donnie and Marie Osmond?).
However, the implementation of any change must be intentional and cannot be left to chance. Take the new/revised BC Curriculum. This overhaul includes more opportunities for teachers to explore their own passions within the framework, gives student voice and choice, includes the incorporation of Core Competencies of Communicating, Personal and Social Identity, and Thinking, and has within all grades, the First Nations Learning Principles.
As the curriculum changes are happening, we are also looking at how we can best communicate student learning to parents/guardians and if immediate reporting (through programmes such as the new MyEdBC – a whole other rant, and FreshGrade) results in better communication and therefore greater student learning. We are also looking at assessment that best improves student learning (which is at the center of the changes, and to prepare our students for an unknown 21st Century world).
As a district, we have been working through the documents for over a year, with some schools and classrooms experimenting with different ways of creating opportunities for student learning, different ways of assessing that learning and different ways of communicating that learning. It has been an amazing opportunity to reflect on best practices and experiment with what works for each child, each classroom and each community.
The sharing of these experiences are so important. Education is not a solo, competitive endeavour. It is a social, collaborative, active act that requires both an understanding of relationship dynamics and modes of inquiry.
There have been many changes in education, but recently the pace of that change has been incredible. With digital and connected devices, students can have access to the data of the our collective history in seconds. They can share their stories instantly and connect with others around the world with the push of a button. The concept of connection has changed: what was once about the physical has now included the virtual, with both benefits and drawbacks.
With the incredible changes happening in our world and the unknown variable of the future, those in education have been struggling with how to best prepare students for their adult successes. With 21st Century Learning being the big buzz words ten years ago, then collaborative and adaptive learning, and now the big phrases include coding, programming and apps. But we must be careful about talking about change and actual real change.
I remember teaching human evolution in an International Baccalaureate biology class last century where we could trace the theories of human evolution to the societal beliefs around change: during wars, evolution was about the “fighter”; during the 60’s, it was about the “hunter/gatherer”; during the 70’s, it was “mother”.
The changing theories reflected the times and this is true in education, as well. The “freedom curriculum of the 70’s”, the “formulaic competition of the 80’s”, and now the “tech age”, have all been influenced by the culture, government and society of each decade.
I believe that change is needed in our systems (in fact, change should be incorporated as part of the system itself). But, with all change, we must remember who we are serving: our future; our students in front of us. If there is a change that improves the teacher profession, then it must also improve student learning (happy teacher, happy classroom?). We can’t have change so an administrator can point to it in a job interview and say “I did that”. We need change to improve the opportunities for our students to learn how to learn and become successful in whatever they want to do.
Districts around the province are currently either looking at how to implement to new curriculum or are in the process of following some sort of process. The revised curriculum has changed the content we teach, the way we assess that content, the way we report student learning, and the inclusion of Core Competencies: Critical and Creative Thinking, Personal and Cultural Identity, and Communication. With all this patchwork of implementation (with the timeline being that the K-9 is in the classrooms by September, 2016 and the 10-12 curriculum by September 2017), there needs to be some way to share our work and processes.
#BCEdChat is currently going through a great series on the new curriculum, with the last one (moderated by Ian Landry and me) being implementation. To support the collaboration of the great work being done around the province on the implementation, I would like to open up the comments for this blog for those that have ideas around the implementation: what processes you are using, who is involved, what is the financial support, and other questions that I feel need to be answered to help educators understand the immensity of this change.
Please comment and include your name, school district (if you wish). Collaboration and sharing is one of the 21st Skills we keep talking about, let’s model this!