Last night I finished reading The Art of Coaching Teams: Facilitation for School Transformation by Elena Aguilar. If you haven’t seen her blog, The Art of Coaching Teachers, go there now.
Aguilar reminds us in every post, and in every chapter of her book that coaching, is indeed an art form. And like all art, context matters. Depending on your audience, and the tone of the year, month, day, or even hour–all artists need to adjust.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the way we shift our tone towards the end of the year. Some schools build up to a finalèof fireworks, and some schools run out of gas. It is important to note that each tone we evoke as teachers can become contagious. As a school, we need to all think of ourselves as ‘Patient Zero,’ the person with the ability to make (in the wise words of George Couros) learning go viral.
Jennifer Hogan, The Compelled Educator, put forward an interesting initiative this month. In an effort to motivate teachers to make every last moment count (instead of counting them down), she launched The #lastbell movement. As Carol Varsalona points out, this is a movement for teachers and students alike:
— Carol Varsalona (@cvarsalona) May 19, 2016
What I love about Hogan’s idea is that it provokes an important question: how do we make opportunities to refocus or pivot together at key moments in the year? Too often, we let the calendar dictate pivot points. By being proactive, and looking for moments when a recalibration is needed, we remember to think of ourselves as the authors of our own school culture.
How are we designing key turning points in the narrative of our school year?
Why do we need to pivot?
Ask any teacher to tell you how many decisions they make in a week. How much improvisation does it take to construct a successful week? A lot. And sometimes we confuse great test results, or completing our documentation of curriculum with success. Numbers and data aren’t success. They might be a symptom of a healthy faculty, but they are not the reasons students depend on good schools. Goals are important, but goal management and maintenance is where the real magic happens. Some of my seniors might receive amazing scores from their IBDP results in a month, but that is not the way I would measure their success. Instead, these are a few key questions I would use as indicators for student success before looking at test results:
1. Is their learning viral? did they pass on anything learned to anyone else?
2. Are they more curious today as a result of what we did in class the past two years?
3. Has our class culture allowed and encouraged a more adaptable mindset?
4. Did our school produce people who will potentially purify their next working environment, or are we producing those prone to pollute?
5. essentially, does a student graduate feeling inspired to tackle their next challenge?
By shifting, consciously pivoting, we demonstrate the need to adapt, the need to construct new path ways. Teachers, students, and administrators need to audit their year to see when and where we started new chapters…and perhaps where we should have started anew.
What was your most significant turning point this year?
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