4 ways to get students to take more responsibility for their learning

May 23, 2022
 
A common issue that teachers have is that they feel that their students don't take enough responsibility for their own learning. They lose their work, they might not even bring a pen to class, they don't hand assessments in on time, they don't take the initiative to catch up on missed work when they are absent, they expect the teacher to spoon feed them everything... the list could go on!
 
However, we know that in order for our students to have a successful future, an essential skill they will need to have is self-regulation. They will need to be able to manage themselves, to motivate themselves, to set goals and achieve them, and to take the initiative.
 
Self-regulation is a skill that students don't just 'have' - they need the opportunity to learn it and develop it. Here are 4 ways that we can do this:
 
Boundaries
  • Boundaries and expectations are an important part of cultivating a positive learning environment. When clear and strong boundaries are in...
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Why the future of teaching will depend on coaching skills

May 16, 2022
We all know how important it is to help our students develop critical 21st century skills in order to be successful in an uncertain future, where many of today's jobs will no longer exist.
 
But what about the role of teaching? How will we need to go about future-proofing our teaching careers? What skills will we need?
 
First of all, let's look at what factors are likely to affect the role of teaching in the future. Technology is a big one here. Already we have seen the rise of the information age, where information is widely available and freely accessed through the internet. The development of smart phones means that people can access whatever information they want, whenever they want, where ever they are.
 
Before this era, students could learn from books, or they could learn from their teachers. Teachers were the keepers of knowledge and it was their role to impart their knowledge onto their students. This role has now decreased in importance however, due to the...
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The Benefits of Collegial Support

May 09, 2022

Research shows that the more collegial support teachers experience in the workplace, the more likely we are to have increased levels of job satisfaction, professional growth, and higher levels of school quality and student performance (Shah, M. 2012). I'm sure you would agree - the more support you receive from your colleagues, the more you tend to enjoy your workplace. 

High levels of collegial support also lead to higher levels of collective teacher efficacy (the shared belief of teachers as to their ability to positively affect their students' outcomes), which is the number one effect size in accordance with Professor John Hattie's work on Visible Learning. For this reason alone, it's pretty important that collegial support is fostered to the fullest extent within every school. 
 
Unfortunately, there are still many schools where it is 'every man for himself', and very little collegial support occurs. In some cases, teachers might even find themselves in...
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How to take control of your teaching career

Apr 25, 2022
Have you intentionally designed your career pathway as a teacher yet? Have you developed a personalised professional development plan to get you to your goal? 
 
For most teachers, the answer is no. 
 
Most teachers choose their career because they want to make a positive difference in their students' lives. They want to help them fulfil their potentials, and have successful futures. This is a very meaningful purpose to have.
 
Unfortunately, however, 1 in 3 teachers quit within their first 5 years of teaching here in Australia.
 
There are many reasons for this, of course, but one of the main reasons is that teachers become disillusioned and lost within the system. In trying to keep up with the day-to-day demands of teaching, they lose sight of why they became teachers, and what it is that they wanted to achieve.
 
This is why it is so important to become more intentional about our career pathways as teachers. If we want to stay in control of...
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How increased federal funding is leading to more inequities in Australia's education system.

Apr 18, 2022
With a federal election upcoming, it's necessary to talk about the issues surrounding Australia's education system. In particular, the increasing inequities that seem to be compounding over time, and set to get worse unless there is some proactive intervention.
 
For a long time now there has been a widening gap between the quality of education received in public schools versus private schools. Private schools generally have:
  • Less staff turnover
  • Higher levels of staff morale, collaboration and collective efficacy (which Hattie rates as the number 1 effect size on student outcomes)
  • Better facilities
  • Better access to technology
  • More extra-curricular activities
  • Higher levels of performance in NAPLAN and ATAR
 
This is creating a culture in Australia where it is now normal to 'shop around' for the best school (as long as your finances can afford it). In this way, our system is becoming more and more like America's, in which education is a commodity to be...
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The importance of focusing on skills-based education

Apr 11, 2022
Here in Australia we are facing another curriculum reform, with political debates raging over what we should be teaching in our schools. The main debate is regarding the perspectives that we should be focusing on regarding Australian history. In other words, our politicians would like us to teach our students what they should believe or think about Australia's history and identity.
 
However, the major consensus from education experts world wide is that we should not be focusing on teaching our students WHAT to think, but rather HOW to think. We live in a world where knowledge is easy to come by, and everyone wants to influence how we think and the decisions we make. What we need to be teaching our students is how to properly discern between reliable and unreliable information, how to think critically about what is being presented to us, how to come to a balanced conclusion, how to create new connections between ideas, and how to construct our own knowledge and...
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Fulfilling our true potentials

Apr 03, 2022
Most teachers choose their career because they want to make a positive difference in their students' lives and help them to fulfil their true potentials.
 
But how do we know what someone's 'true potential' is? And how can we really judge if someone is fulfilling it or not?
 
The truth is, we can't know - we can't tell someone else what their true potential is. Only they can figure that out. Our job as teachers is to provide our students an environment in which they can flourish, by helping them to develop their own self-awareness, and by giving them opportunities to explore their interests and curiosities, and develop their strengths and talents.
 
Ken Robinson in his book, 'The Element', said 'The Element is about discovering your self, and you can't do this if you're trapped in a compulsion to conform'.
 
He describes that a person's 'Element' is where their aptitudes and their passions overlap. In other words, it's when you find something that you are good at...
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21 Lessons for the 21st Century - and what it means for education.

Mar 28, 2022
Yuval Noah Harari, an Oxford University professor famous for his account of human history in his book 'Sapiens', is also known for another more recent book, '21 lessons for the 21st century'.
 
As he puts it '21 Lessons is an exploration of what it means to be human in an age of bewilderment'.
 
He addresses a range of issues that affect us today and into the future, from technological advances, political challenges, justice, the impact of fake news and 'big data', and much more. Of particular interest to me of course, was his thoughts on education.
 
Harari states that the last thing teachers should be doing is to give students more information, as there is already too much of it in today's world. Instead, we need to be teaching them critical thinking skills, so that they can make sense of the information and discern between reliable and unreliable information. They also need conceptual skills so that they can pull together bits of information and make...
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Making learning meaningful with learning journeys

Mar 21, 2022
I'm sure many of us have, at one point or another, been asked this question by a student:
"What is the point of me learning this?" or something else along the same lines.
 
And, truthfully, sometimes it can be tough to come up with a good answer. "Because you need to know it for the test" just doesn't really cut it, does it.
 
Our reality is, however, that we are mandated to teach the curriculum. And the dense, fast-paced nature of our curriculum can often mean that we end up quickly jumping from concept to concept in our efforts to 'cover it', and our students sometimes fail to see the relevance or the connections between what they are learning, and real-life applications. They also don't feel like they have the time to properly develop or master a certain skill or topic, before they are moved on to the next one.
 
This is where learning journeys come in. A learning journey is where students are provided a clear pathway to a collective goal. There is a clear start,...
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How teachers can help their students set challenging learning goals

Feb 07, 2021
In my last article I wrote about the power of raising teacher and student expectations, in line with John Hattie's assertion that 'self-reported grades' are one of the biggest effect sizes when it comes to improving student outcomes. You can read the article here.
 
In this article I'm going to talk through some practical strategies that teachers can use in the classroom to do this, primarily by helping your students to set challenging learning goals, along with developing a growth mindset.
 
By the way, goal-setting and growth mindset is something that we focus on in the Transformational Teachers Academy. Not a member yet? You can join us here.
 
Note that when we are talking about learning goals, this is very different to learning intentions. Learning intentions are necessary to provide teacher clarity, so that students are aware of what they are learning and where they are heading. Learning goals on the other hand, are the specific, unique goals that...
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