Asma completed a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Computer Systems from NED ... She has a Bachelor's degree with Honors from California State University (CSU), ... international academics on 'best practice' in technology enhanced learning, ... Dr. Nian-Shing Chen is Chair Professor in the Department of Information ...
Teachers Teaching Teachers How teacher learning improves student learning
Jake Madden Editor
Teachers Teaching Teachers: How teacher learning improves student learning. Copyright © 2017 Jake Madden All rights reserved under conditions described in the Copyright Act 1968 of Australia. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted by any means - whether auditory, graphic, mechanical, or electronic - without written permission of both publisher and author, except in the case of brief excerpts used in critical articles and reviews. Unauthorized reproduction of any part of this work is illegal and is punishable by law. Under the Copyright Act of 1968 It is a fair dealing to make a reproduction for the purposes of research or study, of one or more articles on the same subject in a periodical publication, or, in the case of any other work, of a reasonable portion of a work. In the case of a published work in hardcopy form that is not less than 10 pages and is not an artistic work, 10% of the number of pages, or one chapter, is a reasonable portion. Cataloguing-in-Publication Entry Title: Teachers Teaching Teachers: How teacher learning improves student learning. Author: Dr Jake Madden Other Contributors: Ambreen Mohammed; Asma Zafar; Annie Madden; Reem Rekieh; Tracey Cannon; Saiqa Zahoor; Sabahat Nassar; Reema Jallad; Aya Khantomani; Eman Samy; Megan Hastie; Richard Smith; Nain-Shing Chen; Alberti Strydom; Cathy Quinn; Nadine Abu Harb, Gayle Macklin; Joseph Jamal; David Lynch Topics: Education, Teaching, Teaching Improvement
First Published in 2017 by Oxford Global Press London (UK), Sydney Australia www.oxfordglobal.com
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Contents About the Authors (In Chapter Order) Foreword Introduction: Why the Teacher? 1. Four Pillars to Building a Positive School Culture 2. Implementing Systems to Impact Student Engagement Through Cooperative Learning 3. Data – Its Relevance to Perspective 4. The Role of the Contemporary Library in Nurturing 21st Century Literacy Skills 5. Assessment for Learning in the Writing Classroom 6. Developing Creative Writing Skills in Emergent Writers 7. Guided Reading – How the Daily Three Technique Helps in the Kindergarten Classroom 8. Teaching English as a Second Language in Kindergarten: An Anecdotal View 9. Educational Strategies for Teaching the Arabic Language 10. What A Difference Translation has Made at Al Yasat 11. The Effectiveness of Peer Mediation on Students’ Discipline Referral Rates at Al Yasat Middle School 12. Explicit Instructional Methodologies: Pedagogical Practice for 21st Century Education 13. The Effect of Virtual Learning Environments in an ESL Classroom 14. Teachers and Parents Working Together for a Common Goal 15. The Effect of Digital Portfolios on the Learning Process 16. The Impact of Teacher Feedback on Student Learning Through the Use of an Interactive Notebook Approach 17. Health & Safety: The Hidden Feature of an Outstanding School 18. Unpacking the Strategic Teaching Improvement Agenda
About the Authors (In Chapter Order) Dr Jake Madden After graduating with a primary teaching degree majoring in physical education Jake has enjoyed a successful teaching and leadership career across four educational systems throughout Australia and now in the international school sector. He has been a principal of six schools over the last thirty years building and leading learning communities. He is passionate about leadership and the positive difference that it can make to teacher and student learning outcomes. Over many years, Jake has led and facilitated the professional learning of principals and staff at school, national and international level around leadership, school improvement and curriculum development. He is widely published in the field of teachers as researchers, with five books and many journal articles showcasing his experiences and research into leading educational change. He is currently on the editorial board for the International Journal of Innovation, Creativity and Change. Ambreen Mohammed Ambreen earned an Advanced Certificate in Teaching from the University of Leicester in UK where she later completed her MA in Primary Education with Distinction. She is currently in pursuit of National Qualification for Senior Leaders (NPQSL) through National College for Teaching and Leadership, UK. Ambreen is passionate about improving student outcomes, both academic and interpersonal, through utilizing a dynamic, cooperative model of learning and teaching. Having experienced the power of cooperative learning in her classroom in raising student engagement, improving achievement and fostering social skills, she is keen to share her enthusiasm, experiences and skills with her colleagues. As an international trainer and coach for Kagan Arabian region, she thoroughly enjoys the opportunities to learn from educators around the globe. Ambreen enjoys keeping up to date with educational research. Her current interests include developing questioning skills to foster higher order thinking across the curriculum and making STEM education equitable for all. Asma Zafar Asma completed a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Computer Systems from NED University, Karachi, Pakistan earning a Gold medal. She started her career in programming in a leading software house in Pakistan reaching the level of Senior Applications Analyst. After her move to the UAE 18 years ago, she has raised family, volunteered in Mother-Toddler groups and schools and undertook newsletter editing for several years. She joined Al Yasat as a supply teacher first in 2008 and then designed and developed the library system and worked as a librarian and resources manager for two years. In 2012 she assumed her current role of Administrator/ICT Facilitator. She has been extensively involved along with the Principal in collection, collation and analyses of all school assessment data. Annie Madden Annie initially completed her teacher training at the College of Advanced Education in Armidale and completed her Bachelor of Education very soon after at the Catholic College of Education in Sydney. Other studies have followed in various areas of education but the most beneficial has been further professional development in the school libraries arena. Being a part of two vibrant professional learning communities of Teacher Librarians on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales has meant she has been immersed in current trends and good practice for librarians. Student collaboration, inquiry and reflection upon their learning have transformed Annie’s view on how students learn and take ownership of their own knowledge creation. Reem Rekieh Reem hails from Toronto, Ontario in Canada. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology specializing in Education from York University. After arriving to Abu Dhabi in 2007, she has been a part of the Al Yasat family since. She has taught all grades in elementary and has been the subject coordinator for Personal, Social, Health, Citizenship Education (PSHCE). She is currently the Assistant Principal for the Elementary School. Reem completed her Post Graduate Certificate in Education with the University of Warwick in England with distinction, and is currently studying for an MA in Innovation in Education. Her thesis focuses on the effectiveness of assessment for learning strategies on improving students’ writing particularly in the UAE. This interest stems in part from her experiences over the years as a class teacher with the goal of discovering innovative ways to improve attainment of writing in the UAE social context. Tracey Cannon Tracey completed a B.A in Early Childhood Care and Education from Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, Ireland in 2010. She also holds an MA in Teaching and Learning from Hibernia College Dublin, which she completed in October 2016. After graduating Tracey worked in Ireland for 2 years full-time before
moving to the UAE where she has been teaching Early Years for past 5 years. Teaching in Abu Dhabi for five consecutive years now has afforded Tracey the opportunity to teach children from a diversity of nationalities and has primarily involved teaching English as an Additional Language. Tracey prides herself on her approachable nature and does her best to promote positive relationships with students, parents and colleagues, through encouraging and facilitating ongoing communication and feedback. Tracey has a strong passion for research in advancements in educational pedagogy and learning about new and innovative ways for teaching, learning and assessment, which is a strong motivator in her work. Through implementing various supports for inclusion, she ensures that all children can access the curriculum and reach their potential. Saiqa Zahoor Saiqa Zahoor hails from Pakistan and has lived her whole life in Abu Dhabi. While completing her schooling at Abu Dhabi, Saiqa graduated from Pakistan. She has been a kindergarten teacher for the last 15 years. Saiqa started working as a kindergarten teacher at Al Yasat Private School from 2009. She has a degree in education from Islamabad Pakistan and further enhanced her teaching career through updating via many workshops at Abu Dhabi. These workshops related to early years including EYES and CDA (Child Development Associate) Credential from Arabian Child and workshops on play based learning from ADEC. Additionally, Saiqa has undertaken workshops in classroom management, 21st century skills and using technology in advanced classroom structures. She loves teaching kindergarten and is an expert in enhancing reading and writing skills during early years. Saiqa believes that early years are the most important years in a child’s physical, social, emotional and intellectual development. She believes that each child is different and hence should be catered for individually. Sabahat Nassar Sabahat Nassar is a professional, certified elementary school teacher with a diversified and international teaching experience. She specializes in Early Years Education with a focus on nurturing child development with a strong and healthy foundation. Sabahat has lived and worked in USA, and in Kenya prior to moving to Abu Dhabi. She has a Bachelor’s degree with Honors from California State University (CSU), California, USA and a Kindergarten Teacher Diploma from Kindergarten Headmistress Association (KHA) Nairobi, Kenya. Additionally, Sabahat completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) from University of Nottingham, England, U.K. Reema Jallad Reema Jallad is a certified high school Arabic teacher and is the current Head of Arabic at Al Yasat Private School. With over 19 years experience in Abu Dhabi schools, Reema has enjoyed the opportunity to work in different school contexts and curricula. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Arabic Literature from the Science and Technology University in Amman. Reema has a strong interest in the art of Arabic handwriting and has participated in a number of competitions. Aya Khantomani Aya Khantomani is a passionate young translator with fresh and bright ideas who is currently working as a translator in Al Yasat Private School. Aya holds a Masters Degree in Translation and a Bachelor Degree in English Language and Translation both from University of Sharjah. Although Aya is a fresh graduate; she is a dedicated, enthusiastic, and energetic person who seeks to expand her knowledge and gain more experience in both translation and educational fields. Dr Eman Samy Eman has a Ph.D. with honors in special education at ALECSO (Institute of Arab Research and study) in Cairo 2016 and has lived with her family in the UAE since 2000. Iman has worked with children with individual learning needs for almost 15 years. Her experience includes a five-year period of working in Zayed Higher Organization for Humanitarian Care and Special Needs as a special education teacher from 2003-2008 after which she was hired by ADEC to work as special education specialist for the next seven years. Part of her role was to build the right team of professionals around the child to enable him/her to engage in meaningful education and meet his/her potential. In 2015, she went back to university fulltime to complete her Ph.D. in special education. Working closely with cluster managers and principals, has given Eman the chance to support many principals and colleagues to set up successful systems and procedures to develop and promote best practice across Abu Dhabi. Dr Megan Hastie Dr Megan is an award-winning Australian teacher. A graduate of the University of Tasmania and James Cook University, Megan has worked in leadership roles in e-learning and e-health, educational research and development, Indigenous education and teacher professional development. Her collaboration with Australian and
international academics on ‘best practice’ in technology enhanced learning, including educational robotics, is documented in numerous e-learning publications, journals and presentations. Professor Richard Smith Professor Richard Smith was Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Education at CQ University Australia until his retirement as Emeritus Professor in July 2008. He is presently an Adjunct Professor of Education at Southern Cross University and is chair of the Board of Directors at the Australian Institute of Music (AIM) in Sydney. He has a long-term interest in improving teacher education so that teaching fulfils it promises to students and their communities. Dr Nain-Shing Chen Dr. Nian-Shing Chen is Chair Professor in the Department of Information Management at the National Sun Yat-sen University, Taiwan. He has published over 400 academic papers in the international referred journals, conferences and book chapters. One of his papers published in Innovations in Education and Teaching International was awarded as the top cited article in 2010. He is the author of three books with one textbook entitled “e-Learning Theory & Practice”. Prof. Chen has received the national outstanding research awards for three times from the National Science Council in 2008, 2011-2013 and the Ministry of Science and Technology in 2015-2017. His current research interests include assessing e-Learning course performance; online synchronous teaching & learning; mobile & ubiquitous learning; gesture-based learning and educational robotics. Prof. Chen is serving as editorial board members for many international journals and guest editors for more than 15 special issues of international journals. He has also organized and chaired numerous international conferences and workshops in the area of advanced learning technologies. Professor Chen is a senior member of IEEE, ACM and the former Chair of the IEEE Technical Committee on Learning Technology (http://lttf.ieee.org/). He is EditorIn-Chief of the SSCI-indexed Journal of Educational Technology & Society. Alberti Strydom Alberti Strydom completed her Bachelors in Education from North West University, South Africa in 2010 where she majored in both English and Accounting in the senior and FET phases. While studying Education fulltime, she completed first and second year modules in Psychology which included Childhood Development and Counselling. In her final year of studies, Alberti started teaching full-time and completed her studies through correspondence. She was privileged to teach English as a second language to learners from different backgrounds at Hartbeespoort High School, an English/Afrikaans high school which consisted of children from mostly English, Afrikaans and Setswana backgrounds. As she has always showed a passion for music and performing arts in her school and tertiary careers, she was honored to act as the school's Head of Performing Arts and Culture where she had the opportunity to direct many stage performances and organize cultural events and competitions for the school. Alberti has completed two training courses in Emotional Intelligence, which she is keen to apply in her teaching practice. In 2016, she relocated to the UAE, and was employed as an English teacher at Al Yasat Private School. Here she has had the privilege of completing two courses in Kagan Cooperative Learning. Alberti has found an interest in incorporating technology in her teaching methodology and she plans to start her Honors degree in Education in the coming year. Cathy Quinn Cathy Quinn is currently the Principal Consultant at Accorn Management. She has been involved in schools all her life as a teacher, principal, consultant and most importantly as a parent. She discovered life from the other side of the principal’s desk when interacting in her own children’s education realizing that parents only want the best for their child and are pivotal in the educational process. She has conducted wide research and study in the topic “Parental Engagement in Schools” and as a result has developed specialized strategies based on the latest world research. Cathy has refined these strategies into a simple “how to” format specifically focused on providing parents, teachers and principals a clear path resulting in a unified learning environment. She is passionate about parental engagement and her strategies debunk a lot of old theories on how to engage parents in the learning process. Nadine Abu Harb Nadine is a Palestinian and has lived her whole life in Abu Dhabi. She obtained her Bachelor of Business degree from Amman, Jordan. She worked as a kindergarten home room teacher for four years at Abu Dhabi International School. In 2011 she started working at Al Yasat School. During this time, she was engaged in workshops that are related to classroom management, learning using technology and advanced learning classroom structures. She has advanced her career by applying the 21 century means of Education in the classroom. Additionally, she worked one to one with Special Needs Students. She coordinated Social Studies section from
Grade 1 to 6 for two years. Nadine acquired her International Post Graduate in Education (Primary) from University of Warwick- London. Her thesis focused in her IPGCE on a better inclusion of Special Needs Students in mainstream classrooms. Gayle Macklin Gayle Macklin comes from the United States and is the Vice Principal of Instructional Leadership. She came to the UAE in 2011, working with ADEC for five years as a Head of Faculty. Prior to the UAE, she worked with Vail School District in Vail, Arizona for 5 years was the Head of Special Education for Corona Foothills Middle School and a teacher of Reading and Writing for students 6th - 8thgrade. Gayle is a Certified Specialist in Reading and Writing, working with students of all abilities. Prior to Arizona, she worked in St. Charles, Illinois. In her tenure, she taught History, Journalism, Spanish and English. In both Arizona and Illinois she wrote curriculum for multiple subjects, District Benchmark Assessments and was a Director of a Non-Profit Organization to promote student-learning experiences outside the classroom. Gayle holds two Masters, one in Educational Leadership, the second in Special Education and is currently working on her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction. Joseph Jamal Mr. Jamal James Joseph was appointed to Al Yasat in the year 1999 and has been one of the long-term member of this family. He is the business manager and chief safety officer of Al Yasat Private School, Sesame Street Nursery and Busy Bees Nursery. He has been instrumental in bringing a stable financial, managerial, personnel, social, transportation and safety administration in the operations of the school, from the early days of being a villa Elementary School in Abu Dhabi city to a fully functional and self-contained K-12 school in Al Shamka. He was instrumental in overseeing the construction of the new facilities and for creating a safe environment for the new Al Yasat School building. His leadership in this area has supported Al Yasat in becoming a high performing school. Apart from his work at school Joseph loves traveling widely to different parts of the world, enjoys varied cuisine and movies. His love for children and his fellow beings always makes him to look out for the latest developments in child safety and eco-friendly environment. Professor David Lynch David Lynch is Professor of Education in the School of Education at Southern Cross University. He is the author of numerous articles and texts on teacher education and related matters and one of Australia’s foremost teacher education innovators. His research and development interests form the basis of a radical rethink on teaching and teacher education and these are reflected in his seminal published works over the past fifteen years. He has had a distinguished academic career at several universities in Australia, having held a number of senior academic leadership positions, and consults in education jurisdictions across the globe.
Foreword Dr Linda G. Traylor The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn Alvin Toffler
Creating Outstanding Schools Creating outstanding schools start with educators, administrators and teachers, who can push the paradigm and see beyond the obvious, in order to create the best in class performance. This is what this book showcases. It highlights that educators must work closely together to implement innovative, systemic change, and strive to achieve breakthrough results. The focus is on continuous improvement. Continuous improvement is a legitimate core competency that is often missed in organizations. Regardless of their status with prior improvement initiatives, true leaders acknowledge that there are always significant challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Unfortunately, continuous improvement also tends to be the first casualty in day-to-day priorities. Conflicts with talent, time, resources – and many other unknowns can take important improvement initiatives off point. Administrators and teachers must learn to integrate improvement excellence into the curriculum, and keep it there as a sustainable best practice initiative. There is a huge intrinsic value in enabling teachers to sustain strategic improvement and cultural change internally without continued dependence on administrators. Outstanding schools lead, organize, deploy, and execute enhancement initiatives with a return on their investment (ROI), thus achieving real annualized benefits in excess of stated goals and objectives. Teachers and administrators have to unite forces, for they are the leaders of both the classroom and the school. Outstanding schools are forward thinking and are always looking to develop, to grow, and to become better. They are never satisfied with the status quo or being average. The critical factors of outstanding schools are: (1) teachers and administrators work as a team; (2) the school reacts and responds to student data and incorporates emerging technologies; and (3) school leadership is consistent and aligned with the mission, value proposition, and strategic initiatives. In outstanding schools, teachers do not work in isolation, and administrators do not work in a vacuum, dictating core competencies from their office. By not being connected and involved as a team in establishing goals, strategic initiatives, curriculum focus, and the direction of the school, quite often the curriculum becomes obsolete and disjointed. What does it mean to be a contributing member of a team? It means that all voices on the team are heard and appreciated. Sometimes school organizations fail to hear the voices of the new, “beginning” teacher. Too often, a new teacher is looked at as a novice unable to add value
to the curriculum because of his lack of experience. In essence, the school is missing out on a great opportunity since new teachers have the latest strategies and techniques to engage students in the learning process. The goal should be to connect the neophyte with open-minded, experienced educators. Both can learn from each other. Never squash ideas until you thoroughly understand the concept in the context of learning. Teachers who have taught for several years, but who have never altered their curriculum or their mindset, are usually an obstacle to progress. Lots of well-intentioned, hard-working teachers spend countless hours compiling best practices, developing content, and performing assessments only to see a distinct lack of real impact on students, the curriculum, and learning. The second factor which is critical is a student-centered, data-focused curriculum that responds to all the information obtained on students before moving forward. Creative schools analyze test results, where students are on the learning curve, how students are responding in the classroom to change and technology, and what must be done to get them to excel so they become lifelong learners. All of this information must be taken into consideration when enhancing and making changes to the curriculum, selecting textbooks, developing the criteria for staff development, and redefining core competencies and strategies to engage students in the learning curriculum. The quality of teaching, learning, and assessment work hand-in-hand. The final factor is that leadership must be consistent, shared, and in-step with the school’s strategic goals. Although the final decisions rest with school administrators, input and feedback from teachers and the staff is invaluable. Al Yasat Schools are leading the way in excellence by preparing students to be lifelong learners. Our core competencies of collaboration and leadership, digital literacy, critical thinking, and problem-solving help our students thrive in today’s world. We provide a resultsbased curriculum with proven teaching methodologies and best practices to maximize student performance and success. Al Yasat serves as a role model to school systems across the country desiring to develop a holistic approach to learning. Al Yasat consists of a team of educators collaborating and using best practices around specific focus competencies to drive value-added results. We achieve this through seven critical core competencies: talented leadership, collaboration, best practices, focus initiatives, creativity and innovation, driven results, and fun. • Talented Leadership - At Al Yasat, we have a clear purpose, a strong strategic vision, and multi-talented leaders. We believe that no one person can possess all the skills necessary nor fill the various roles required for delivering an innovative curriculum and meaningful learning experiences. We leverage each other’s talents, creating a win-win solution for everyone. • Collaboration - We believe that a value-added curriculum emerges from a shared common vision and a team of educators working effectively inside the classroom and across teams. • Best Practices - Implementing methods, tools, approaches, and ideas that have a proven track record of application and achievement is what we do best. • Focus Initiatives - We target areas in the curriculum that are designed to achieve both short and long-term objectives in order to bring about outstanding performance results. • Creativity and Innovation - We foster innovation and encourage an entrepreneurial spirit by employing methods of instruction that integrate thinking, creativity, information, technology, and life skills using real world contexts. • Driven Results - We deliver significantly higher student results and excel in student performance.
Fun - We enjoy and celebrate our successes. We have a humble willingness to learn, adapt, and improve.
This book epitomizes these six critical competencies and is a testament to the vision and leadership of the school board, school leaders and the staff team. Dr Linda G. Traylor is the CEO and Principal of L.G. Traylor & Associates, LLC, a premiere provider of senior-level services to promote the growth and success of client organizations. Linda served for twenty years as chief people officer with some of America’s most recognized and admired companies in the hospitality industry. She is a former teacher and college professor. She holds the Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Florida International University, and Union Institute & University. Linda is the author of Uncontrollable Urge, Eye to Kill, and You Are You ... I am Me.
Introduction: Why the Teacher? Jake Madden
Introduction Education across the world is seeing greater scrutiny on the role of the teacher as the focus on international measures like PISA, TIMMS and PiRLS offer comparative data on student achievement. The upshot of this spotlight is the identification and the subsequent examination of what effective teachers do to raise student attainment levels. Traditionally, teaching was concerned with the teacher controlling the learning environment; deciding the content, standing and delivering the learning, expecting to fill all students with the same knowledge, at the same time, using the same teaching tools. Fortunately, education has evolved into a multifaceted array of pedagogies as we refocus our purpose for educating our children. The movement from the factory model of schooling1 through to the knowledge economy era and now into the learning to learn era2 has seen the necessity of the teacher continually learning new teaching pedagogies and skill requisites. The notion that all the teacher needs to know is taught at university has long disappeared. The onset of life-long learning practices, coupled with our graduated knowledge of how one learns, has forced the classroom teacher to keep up with new “technologies of and for learning”. The purpose of this book in short is to showcase not only the talented Al Yasat Private School teachers and how they are influencing the future generations but more importantly, how expert teachers use action research as a vehicle for effecting school improvement. This book has its genesis from two camps. Understanding the work of teachers and the moving away from the one size fits all professional learning approach offers school leaders a more targeted approach to improving teacher performance. Secondly, the influence of Schon’s (1983) ideas about reflection on practice centres the quest for school improvement squarely in the hands of the class teacher. Coupled with the focus of practical inquiry (Richardson, 1994), the emphasis here is the desire to improve one’s own practice. Towards Building an Outstanding School: Begin with the Teacher “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change” Charles Darwin Intuitively we know that effective teachers can have a lasting impact upon the lives of their students. Teaching is a complex craft yet parents can quickly identify the teacher they want their child to be with each year. They can cite various reasons why particular teachers are more suited to teaching their child than others. Teachers are change agents for learning in their classrooms and must continually adapt to their school context and the students in their charge. Effective teachers (Strong, 2007) identifies several specific characteristics of teacher responsibilities and behaviors that contribute directly to effective teaching. These characteristics can be divided into the following categories: 1
• • • • • •
The teacher as a person
Classroom management and organization
Organizing and orienting for instruction
Monitoring student progress and potential
There is now much written about the importance of the classroom teacher as the main agent of change and the key person that has the greatest impact upon student progress. Hattie (2012), through his substantive visible learning research concludes that the key to making a difference in student learning was making teaching and learning visible. This places the importance squarely on the shoulders of the classroom teacher. Supporting the work of Marzano, Marzano and Pickering (2003), providing clear strategies that effective teachers use to influence the learning process is Hattie’s meta-analysis of the influences on learning (Hattie, 2008). How teachers decide on which strategies to use is dependent upon the quality of research into what is working and what is not in their classrooms. Actively focusing on our own teaching practice leads the effective practitioner to teaching improvement when an action is implemented. This cycle of reflection, consideration of targeted instructional strategies to meet the learning needs of the students, implementation and evaluation of the teaching practice and then back to reflection is, (in itself), a form of action research. Teachers engage in action based research daily in their classrooms. It is not a new phenomenon. Each day the classroom practitioner considers the evidence in front of him/her and then makes decisions and implements relevant actions. Whether grouping students or reflecting on assessment strategies or debating about the type of intervention strategies to us, the teacher is undertaking research. However, teachers should not just happen upon classroom based research. It should not be left to chance for teachers to stumble upon data to guide decision making. Teachers need to be collecting evidence with a purpose in mind. In short, they should be focused on improving student learning and they need to attend to it in a systematic way. Literature is rich with illustrations of how teachers as researchers have positive impact upon both schooling and student outcomes (Kincheloe, 2012; Mertler, 2008). These include: • Raising student attainment levels • Improving teacher practice • Increasing collaboration across the school • Fostering innovation and creativity in teaching • Building learning communities Evolving from the notion of action research, the teacher researcher focuses on a problem to solve or on an aspect of teaching and learning they want to change. The establishment of a question is the starting point for the researcher. It is from there that the systematic collection of evidence begins. The answers to such questions leads the teacher to engage in a change process and once the cycle is initiated, supports the path to school improvement.
Teacher Leadership: The Hidden Key This new era for education (learning to learn) is founded on the expertise of the classroom teacher. As Hattie (2003) continually advocates, the teacher is the most important figure in raising student achievement in schools. Consequently, there is a need for teachers to take greater interest into how their performance in the classroom impacts upon student learning. Principals and school leaders alike advocate that a significant way to assess a teacher’s effectiveness in the classroom is to critique their teaching performance. This includes not only what they do in the classroom but also the depth of progress their students make on achievement benchmarks. At the heart of teacher leadership is the improvement of student learning. Reflecting upon and ultimately improving their own practice is a key feature of the teacher leader. Teacher leaders are at the forefront of coaching and mentoring other teachers. They are the vocal advocates for students and their families. As teacher leaders become more embedded in the school, the culture of the school begins to grow towards a wider collaborative enterprise. Teachers unconsciously begin working more collectively with their peers and focusing on student success. Teacher leaders are focused, determined and enthusiastic about creating the best conditions for learning. Unpacking the Chapters This book illustrates that all teachers can be leaders and intentionally conduct research in their classrooms. The chapters in this book provides insight into how teachers critically reflect upon their craft and ultimately, contribute to whole of school improvement. In short, the flow of each chapter generally follows the simple six step research outline: 1. Identify problem/change to be studied. 2. Collect information from various sources and evaluate it 3. Configure a plan to address the issue. 4. Implement an intervention plan and collect ongoing data. 5. Continually analyze the data of the results of the intervention or change and make evaluations. 6. Implement a next step revised plan or intervention Chapter One offers the school leader insight into four pillars for inculcating a positive staff culture. It sets up the foundations to allow teachers the freedom to inquire and reflect on their practice in setting the foundations for school improvement. Bringing a whole of school framework to teaching and learning is the goal of all school leaders. Chapter Two provides an inroad into the role of cooperative learning strategies and illustrates how the collaborative embedded professional development program can enhance a school’s commitment to improved learning. Chapter Three provides an outline of the process of how data can be used to inform teachers and in doing so, allow them to make informed decisions about student learning. In Chapter Four the focus is on the role of the contemporary teacher librarian in supporting whole of school literacy programs. With the onset of the knowledge era and the progression into the learning to learn era, the engagement of the teacher librarian in meeting the learning needs of teachers as well as students is becoming a vital tool for schools striving to become outstanding.
Chapter Five unpacks the importance of not only assessment for learning but also analysing reading benchmarks to promote the coaching/mentoring of teachers in planning for intervention strategies. Using such a targeted approach has enhanced the literacy levels across the school. Chapter Six delves further into the early years of literacy learning with a report on the relationship between a creative writing strategy and students’ self-assessments. Following this literacy pathway, Chapter Seven reveals the road guided reading plays and the importance of matching reading texts to student reading and comprehension needs. The complexities of teaching and learning within a bilingual environment are illuminated in the next few chapters. Chapter Eight looks at how students are supported when entering school with little or no English. This is followed by Chapter Nine with an overview of a strategic framework for raising Arabic attainment and progress. On another level, Chapter Ten showcases how the link between school and home in a bilingual can be created through effective translation strategies. In Chapter Eleven, we delve into how students can also be a vehicle for supporting school improvement practices through active engagement at the grassroots level. The focus of a student peer mediation program supports the notion of students leading students. Knowing that effective teaching is strategically important to the learning process, Chapter Twelve highlights how explicit instruction can be enhanced through the provision of a blended learning environment. The practicality of this chapter is explored further in Chapter Thirteen where we understand the effect of virtual learning environments have in the second language classrooms. Noting that success in schooling is not the sole domain of the school Chapter Fourteen highlights research that connects the parental support to the classroom teacher to support the intervention that targets student learning gaps. Showcasing student learning can be supported through the intervention of digital portfolios. Using an evidence based approach Chapter Fifteen brings together a pilot program where parents have immediate access to student learning. The outcomes of the project illustrate the positive power of parent (and teacher) feedback. Rounding out the triangle of feedback (ie, parent, teacher and student) is Chapter Sixteen on how teachers’ keep track of student work and the mechanism of written feedback in student copybooks. Chapter Seventeen looks at the role of health and safety in supporting the teaching and learning program. This book concludes in Chapter Eighteen with a summation of the teacher as researcher program at Al Yasat Private School and its impact upon improving teacher performance. References Hattie, J. (2008). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. Routledge. Hattie, J. (2012). Visible learning for teachers: Maximizing impact on learning. Routledge. Kincheloe, J. L. (2012). Teachers as researchers (classic edition): Qualitative inquiry as a path to empowerment. Routledge. Marzano, R. J., Marzano, J. S., & Pickering, D. (2003). Classroom management that works: Research-based strategies for every teacher. ASCD. Mertler, C. A. (2008). Action research: Teachers as researchers in the classroom. Sage.
1. Four Pillars to Building a Positive School Culture Jake Madden “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?" "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to." "I don't much care where –" "Then it doesn't matter which way you go.” Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Effective leaders have a plan. A vision for learning. They know where they want to go. Effective teachers have a plan. A vision for learning in their classroom. They know what their students need to know and do. Outstanding schools are full of effective leaders and teachers, and have positive learning cultures. What do Outstanding Schools Have in Common? Outstanding schools are different in their contexts, histories and designs. That said, research and inspection evidence suggest they have many qualities in common. Research on schools that have made the shift to outstanding identifies key aspects of the process of metamorphosing into outstanding institutions (see Hargreaves, Boyle & Harris, 2014; Robinson, Hohepa, & Lloyd, 2007). Coupled with this research and my own experience in fostering school improvement I suggest there are four overlapping themes: 1. Consistency of and creativity in teaching Outstanding schools have systems and approaches which guarantee that the overwhelming majority of teaching in classrooms is at least good, and usually excellent. These systems and approaches are evidence-based; they avoid opinions or guess work. Senior leaders between them have a monitoring role which enables them to be confident in their knowledge of the professional qualities of all the teachers in the school. Once consistency has been reliably attained, the emphasis is on increasing the frequency with which lessons are truly memorable experiences of learning for teacher and students alike. Using formative assessments of students’ work and moderated across the school a sound picture of students’ progress is provided. The artefacts of students’ learning are celebrated. 2. A Personalised Curriculum Outstanding schools provide a curriculum that is adapted for students so that every student has an individual pathway that is guided by the teacher and in collaboration with parents. Continuous assessment allows ongoing modification of learning tasks. Such data gathering allows the teachers to constantly review student learning and provide the necessary instructional strategies to help build the next phase of the students’ learning plan. 3. Engagement of students Students in outstanding schools see themselves as active partners in the school’s life and work, not as passive consumers of a pre-planned product. This sense of partnership is realised through students’ participation in regular reviews of their work and progress, and through the sincere attention that staff pay to their opinions on all aspects of the school’s activity and organisation. Students’ voices may be heard through the school council, through the influence
of their representatives in the appointment of staff, or through a system by which students appraise the effectiveness of their teachers. 4. Relationship with the Outside World Outstanding schools maintain mutually productive relationships with parents and the wider local community. Their communication systems are excellent. Parents have a genuine influence on the school’s policies and procedures. Governing bodies of outstanding schools understand their strategic role in influencing or affirming the school’s overall direction, while allowing senior leaders their space to execute the strategic plan. Outstanding schools often provide guidance and mentor other schools which are looking to improve. Great staff cultures don’t just happen or are conjured up by a dynamic and charismatic leader; they come from a consistent number of tiny actions that gel together and create a strong foundation. From recruiting new staff to daily interactions and quick chats when passing in corridors, exceptional leaders keep their ear to the ground to ensure a positive, engaged, strong staff community. They encourage teachers to reflect on their practice and to challenge their ideas. In short, building outstanding schools begins with having outstanding teachers. A key mechanism to nurturing the outstanding teacher is the formation of teacher action research cycle. As pointed out in the introduction to this book, this process engages teacher in the assessment and improvement of their own practice. In doing so it helps the school assess problems, enact changes, and reassess planning and while teacher action research looks different in every school setting, there are some common characteristics of teacher action research. It is: • focused on school improvement; • undertaken by teachers within the school as opposed to academics outside the school; • not only focused on improving a teacher’s teaching, but also the various in class and out of class factors that affect the impact of the process of teaching; • a cyclic process of evaluation, designing an action, putting the action into practice, and then re-evaluation; and • focused on solving problems and introducing change action. Inspirational Leadership: Building Staff Culture Principals of outstanding schools have had an overall, long-term vision of what their school could be and have translated that vision into practical and successful initiatives in consultation with staff and senior leaders (Robinson, Lloyd & Rowe, 2008). They know how to appoint excellent people to other leadership positions in the school, and then trust them to do their jobs; distribution of leadership is normal. While encouraging innovation and measured risk-taking on the part of staff, they are uncompromising in addressing poor teaching performance. They promote an atmosphere of confident pride in the school’s culture. They fulfil their role as the principal representative of the school in its relations with the community it serves. Once the principal has the staff in place, the next point of order is to build a positive staff culture with the view to harnessing the collective talents and focus on the business of the school: teaching and learning.
The Four Pillars for Nurturing a Positive Staff Culture
Building and fostering a staff culture can be centred on the following four pillars as depicted in figure 1.
Figure 1: Four Pillars for Nurturing a Positive Staff Culture
Let’s briefly unpack each of the pillars. Pillar 1: Loyalty and Commitment: Positive relationships underpin the success of an organisation and it is through the relationships that staff bond and connect to each other. Building the environment where highly qualified staff are attracted and retained generally indicates a highly committed, and loyal workforce. Committed and loyal teachers reinforce teachers’ motivation to act in the best interest of the school they work for. Pillar 2: Transparency & Efficiency: Increasingly teachers are encouraged to work in professional learning communities, data teams, and other structures intended to encourage teachers to work together to unpack curricula, plan instruction, assess learning, analyze data, revise instruction, re-analyze data, and then evaluate the impact of individual teaching strategies. As we collaborate more we become more transparent in our actions and decision making. This enables parents and other stakeholders greater opportunities to see what’s happening in the classroom. Being more transparent in the work educators do in schools, the data they collect and the results of their actions assists in increasing school efficiency. Pillar 3: Trust Research highlights that the lack of trust within the school environment leads to staff disengagement in their work (teaching and learning) (Park, Lim & Ju, 2016). This in turn fosters low morale which often decreases one's commitment to the organisation. Ultimately, the product of a lack of commitment is a decrease in productivity. Without a purposeful and consistent effort to foster trust and build strong relationships at every step of the way, even the best-designed and thoughtful engagement processes will almost certainly either fail or fall far short of the success school leaders seek to achieve.
When you have trusting relationships between your team members and their leaders, you have the foundation to create an engaged, committed, and high-performing workforce—a successful school where everyone works together effectively toward the school’s goals. The key is that for trust to exist, others must choose to make themselves vulnerable to their leaders by taking risks at their request. Pillar 4: Teamwork “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success” Henry Ford The above maxim by Henry Ford can very well highlight the importance of working together in teams. Teams are formed when individuals with a common taste, preference, liking, and attitude come and work together for a common goal. Teams play a very important role in schools as well as our personal lives. Every staff member is dependent on his or her colleague to work together and contribute efficiently to the school. No staff member can work alone; he or she should take the help of their colleagues to accomplish the tasks efficiently. Given the four pillars, the heart of the effective leader is in fostering school improvement. Developing Instructional Leaders How does facilitating and promoting the four pillars outlined above support instruction? Without outstanding teaching, nothing else matters. The inter-relatedness of the four pillars drives every teacher to continually improve and excel. Teams don’t win championships with only one star player. We need to develop other leaders to help implement the school vision, raise the quality of teaching and learning and then hold them accountable for the school improvement initiatives. This sets up a culture where everyone is focused on improving their performance. This will lead to making sure teaching and learning is of an outstanding quality, and consequently, improvement in other areas of school life will follow. When school leaders embed the four pillars in the school then the following four foci centres the outstanding leader in driving school improvement: 1. Data-Driven Instruction: If you teach and students do not learn, is it really teaching? You cannot know if students are learning at the highest levels if you don’t assess that learning. Data-driven instruction, then, becomes the roadmap for rigor. (But this is not a mandated for excessive standardised testing!) 2. Observation and Feedback: An elite sportsman never improved by only a couple of observations & review of their performance. The best coaching happens onthe-spot: in repeated, consistent, small chunks. Outstanding school leaders don’t leave this to chance: they construct a program that allows teachers to engage regularly with a job embedded professional learning plan. 3. Planning: You wouldn’t go on a road trip without a map. Thoughtful lesson and unit planning does the same thing for teaching. Leaders can make that planning even more effective by supporting teachers directly in the planning process, preventing problems before they occur. 4. Professional Development: What keeps professional development from being a series of isolated workshops that have little impact on instruction? Great leaders
connect it to the other instructional levers, creating an avenue for giving teachers multiple chances to practice before implementing in the classroom. In Summary As crucial as teachers are to the success of student learning, principals are a vital cog in nurturing teacher professional learning. The role of leaders in fostering positive learning communities is undoubtedly one of the most important functions for supporting school improvement. Strong positive learning cultures are places with a shared sense of what is important, a shared ethos of caring and concern, and a shared commitment to helping students learn. To help staff build upon their professional knowledge, principals need to put in structures that lead to create an environment that supports creativity and innovation. Focusing on the four pillars as identified in this chapter, principals and school leaders can begin the journey to developing outstanding schools. References Hargreaves, A., Boyle, A., & Harris, A. (2014). Uplifting leadership: How organizations, teams, and communities raise performance. John Wiley & Sons. Park, C. K., Lim, D. H., & Ju, B. (2016). Transformational Leadership and Teacher Engagement in an International Context. In Handbook of Research on Global Issues in Next-Generation Teacher Education (pp. 2242). IGI Global. Robinson, V., Hohepa, M., & Lloyd, C. (2007). School leadership and student outcomes: identifying what works and why - Best evidence synthesis iteration (BES). In ACEL (Ed.), ACEL Monograph Series. Wellington, NZ: Ministry of Education. Robinson, V. M., Lloyd, C. A., & Rowe, K. J. (2008). The impact of leadership on student outcomes: An analysis of the differential effects of leadership types. Educational administration quarterly.
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