Our guest reviewer of the week is Jill Berry, a former head, now educational consultant and Twitter addict @jillberry102
Chris Hildrew, deputy head at Chew Valley school, writes in this blog about how, exactly, his school launched their commitment to growth mindset at the start of the autumn term. (A ‘growth mindset’ is the belief among learners that their abilities are not fixed and will develop over time).
The blog post is full of practical suggestions and resources which others may find helpful if they are planning on using the growth mindset principles in their own schools, or, indeed, are considering how to launch and embed any initiative.
The strategies Chris and his colleagues are adopting at Chew Valley serve as a model for how to clarify and reinforce the values you are committed to. Making the link between articulating what we believe, and going on to embed those values in our day to day practice so that we live them, is crucial.
As Chris says, “We felt it was important that the students arrived in September to see something visibly different about the school, and we also felt it important to wear our hearts on our sleeves. The ethos should be visible from the front gate through every corridor and into every classroom in the school.”
Head of English Lucinda Preston has written two excellent posts about getting the best from quiet learners. The way in which our schools operate often seems to favour the extrovert (true, perhaps, of both students and staff), and Lucinda observes that if we are not making the most of quiet learners, this is “a terrible loss of potential across an entire school.”
These posts suggest strategies that teachers of all subjects can use to build the confidence of, and ultimately increase the participation of, those students who are naturally reticent and uncomfortable in the limelight. As Lucinda says, “I work to create a supportive classroom environment for shy students. Once I’ve created a climate in which quiet learners feel comfortable, I can then focus on their learning.”
I found these posts beautifully written, warm and affirming.
As he starts his second headship, Tom Sherrington continues to share his wisdom and the benefits of his experience in his carefully considered and well-balanced blog posts. Here he addresses the issue of how, if they are to move forward, schools need to embrace the views of all staff and not dismiss the opinions of those who are more openly critical. We need to reach “the territory of intelligent, professional discourse”, and, for this to happen, we should involve both champions and challengers.
Tom suggests that uncritical acceptance of initiatives and ideas (including at TeachMeets) is not helpful or productive, and this idea is picked up and discussed in the discussion thread.
The best blogs make me think and this post certainly did that.
Despite not being a fan of the word ‘awesome’, I found these 10 tips from Elena Aguilar useful, and hope that anyone in schools planning or delivering CPD for staff might pause for thought if they read the advice. When you are a teacher it’s perhaps easy to fall into the trap of thinking that running sessions for staff isn’t too far removed from planning lessons for students. In fact, the context requires you to think and plan very carefully what you include and how you present it, so that staff who have given up time for the training gain as much as they can from the experience.
Aguilar suggests, for example, building in choice: “You’ll want to offer lots of structure for your CPD, but you must also allow for choice. Adults need to make choices about their learning — it’s just a fact. We disengage if we can’t make some choices.”
Aguilar ends the post with the comment, “I hope these tips give you at least one new thing to try this year.” My view is that if reading any of the posts suggested in this review sparks just one idea, then that has been time well spent, for you and for me!