Monday, 5 December 2016

The battle to find time in schools – we need to consider teacher efficacy

The battle to find time in schools – we need to consider teacher efficacy
Teacher and school leader workload issues very much stem from the fact that there is not enough time to do the job properly. Some time back I commented on two ways that leaders can support teachers with workload issues, as to a large extent school leaders must take the initiative and lead in providing teachers with the support and guidance needed to tackle the many demands placed upon them.
Leaders, however, should not solely focus on what tasks they can take away from teachers and focus their priorities in the direction that it is most needed, leaders have a huge responsibility to also work with teachers to make them more efficient at what they do.
It is not advocated that when workload issues arise in schools, we first start with a conversation about teacher efficacy, as that would be like waving a red rag to a bull. That said, if we are serious about improving schools, then we do have to look at our own efficacy both as leaders and as teachers.
We should be asking the following questions:
  • Is there a quicker way to do this in order to get the same desired result?
  • Is what I am doing actually effective given the time I am spending on the task?
  • What technologies can we harness to improve workflow and help us accomplish a task with less effort?
  • Do we make the most our of the collaborative planning time made available to us?
  • Is my classroom time utilized effectively, so that students get a better learning experience during their contact ours with me?
  • Is there a reason for us to still do this task in this particular way, or do we still need to do this task at all?
Discussions about personal efficacy, whether it be as a teacher, or as a school leader, need to be approached with an open-mind and with a willingness to be self-critical along with a desire to be better at what we do.
School leaders need to be aware that if everyone in a school had this approach to personal efficacy, then we would be making further strides of improvement than we are currently. The topic of efficiency and efficacy, therefore, requires leaders courageous enough to bring up this discussion to those who are less inclined to discuss their own work, preferring to keep the agenda focused on what others can take away rather than be inconvenienced by the suggestion of changing personal work habits.
This conversation needs to be put on the table in all of our schools but must take place with a high degree of empathy on the part of the leader initiating the discussion. Not everyone has the ability to learn new technologies at the same pace, some of us are better at collaborating than others and some of us are more insecure in our role as a teacher than many of our colleagues. Subsequently, working to improve teacher and leader efficacy needs a differentiated approach rather than one size fitting all. That is what we ask of teachers in classrooms working with students, so we must do the same when working with teachers.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Dear Defender of the Status Quo

This blog post supports te need for change. It's tricky being involved in the journey at Frankley School when schools around us perhaps are not changing as fast? 
Parents don't always see the need. They harp back to what they knew and what they think is best for education today. 
I always keep coming back to the heart surgeon. Would you like the procedure from 20 years ago or the latest ...

What's your thinking on this article? There is such a common theme about the use of technology to personalise learning and transform learning and teaching? What changes have you made?

Dear Defender of the Status Quo...3


Dear Defender of the Status Quo,

The status quo does not need your help.

It is a powerful force on its own. It has inertia on its side. And fear. And control. 

You feel safer with what's familiar, but you're not. 

In the end, failure to change makes you antique, obsolescent, irrelevant, and eventually extinct.

You can see that the world is changing around you. Fast. Really fast. The evidence is everywhere. But what are you doing about it?

The status quo won't prepare students for the challenges they will face. 

Change is inevitable, and you are needed as a change-maker.

Is your teaching today much different from how you were taught? Are your lessons preparing students for yesterday or tomorrow? 

Desks are lined in straight rows. Students listen for instructions, complete assignments, take tests. How is the experience unique to the world today and not the world of 50 years ago?

You are more than a curriculum implementer. You are a positive change maker.You work with the most valuable resource in the world--children.

You matter.

A lot has been pushed on you I know. Your work has been devalued, disrespected, and run down.

Your work is more than a test score.

But it won't help to circle the wagons and just hang on to the old. 

It's tempting to become cynical. To resent the bureaucrats or pundits who want to change you from the outside. Who want to create a marketplace for a child's education.

Keep the focus on your students.

Keep an eye on tomorrow.

Don't let your school become a time capsule.

Be a champion for change. Don't wait for it to happen to you. Drive the change from your platform. You have a voice. 

You are a leader.

People want to know what you stand for, not just what you stand against. I want to know.

Share your story.


You can let the challenges cause you to clinch your fists and hang on to what you know, or you can reach for something new and be the one who creates a better tomorrow for public schools, and ultimately for kids.


If technology isn't your strength, that's okay. But how are you growing? How are you becoming a stronger digital learner?


You lead by example. Your example is your greatest opportunity for influence. Your students are watching.

Don't allow change to be something done to you. Be empowered.

Your work can't be replaced by a machine, but only if you connect and relate and stay relevant. You may be a kid's best chance. You can be a game-changer.

Spread hope.

Remember to always teach kids first, and then curriculum. Teach them how to think. How to work the problem. How to adapt to whatever they might face.

Create excitement around learning. Make it count for something besides a grade or a diploma or a test score.

The status quo is a taker. It takes your passion, your zest, your difference. It tries to make you like everyone else.

Stand out.

You are not an interchangeable part and neither are your students. Make your classroom more artwork and less assembly line.

And please, please don't be a defender of the status quo...

We've always done it this way just won't cut it anymore.