While exploring the Education Leadership group on Linkedin I came across this:
The number one principle seems to be that effective schools have clearly articulated and shared beliefs about learning that are lived in every classroom (Modern Learners). The simple bit might be determining what the shared beliefs about learning should be. Often, the harder bit is ensuring that they are lived in every classroom. The Education Leadership quote above, in my view, is pointing the way towards this happens - it is, in fact, by everyone leading with these common beliefs. If this happens then the practices to ensure it is happening in every classroom will emerge.
The quote also points to the fact that it is important that the core beliefs that drive a school should be about learning and about how people learn. It is all very well to have a set of core beliefs and values that are largely behavioural (eg respect, honesty, integrity etc) but learning beliefs and values should be front and centre in a school.
Determining what these shared beliefs about learning are should start with answering the question:
If we accept that being a self-directed and self-determined learner is the most important skill to develop within our learners then it is vital that we take the time to discuss how we can create the conditions in our schools for these skills to develop. And when we have settled on the principles/beliefs that we believe create these conditions we have to make sure that they are visible everywhere in our school, in the language we use and the classroom practices we adopt.
Based on what we see in the research about what makes for powerful learning for today's students what are examples of some elements that could be the core of our beliefs about learning? Here are a few:
This is by no means an exhaustive list and cleverer people than I will be able to add to it. It is a good starting point for discussion as groups of teachers interrogate their beliefs and the beliefs of others about what makes for deep learning.
The key, of course, is then to discuss and agree what impacts these beliefs would have on our teaching practice. For example:
In the end, it doesn't matter too much what the core beliefs about learning are (though I'll cover that in another post). What matters is that the core beliefs about learning are known, understood, shared and drive the learning in all classrooms.
I wonder if all schools can say they have a set of clearly articulated and shared beliefs about learning. If they do, I wonder if they know that they are truly lived in every classroom. I also wonder if all leaders lead with those common beliefs. I know that I couldn't have answered 'yes' to those questions throughout much of my leadership.
Once again, this looks like demanding work, but it also looks like rewarding and exciting work.