It's not just lectures and academics that can come up with the best quotes - Superhero movies like Batman can be inspirational too.
So after my latest observations of the learners not liking challenge or change and wanting to stay in their comfort zone. I decided to go further with the Superslides and create visuals for the learners and they created their own Superhero Avatar where they wrote down what they were good at and things they needed to work on. They still struggled with the concept of things they were 'bad' at so I gave a few visual resources to support.
So to encourage the children to challenge themselves I have set up a 'Challenge Charge Up' plan in their Literacy. I realised I can use the fact that the children love to play games and instead of them loosing their lives like in regular video games they have to build up their Superhero's life by challenging themselves. They don't get any jewels for just getting it right, they have to prove that they are putting themselves out of their comfort zone and realising that challenging themselves can be just as, if not more, important than getting it correct. I have let them know they have to self assess themselves as I know small challenges to certain children may be big challenges for others. All the while coming back to the language of learning we are building and getting the children to reflect on themselves as learners.
'When we are young everything is open and we let in as much light as possible but as we get older, like the eye with too much light, we close it down, we close down the aperture, there is less and less light going in, we lock down and control the things we do but when we are kids everything is open.’
SInce starting teaching, SIr Ken Robinson has had a big impact on my practise, reading his books, watching his videos, with a highlight of seeing him and meeting him last year. It was through him that I found Richard Gerver and he is such an amazing influence to educators today.
When I first came out of university and got my first job I expected to just become an 'adult' and yep all my debts would be gone and I would know how to do everything....... Wrong!! I got overwhelmed by how much unknown there was because the way I saw 'adults' it seemed like they knew all the answers but the more and more I looked it was just most people pretending like they knew what they were doing. So in my first year it felt like I was just surviving and grabbing on to control. However, once I started to look into the likes of Ken Robinson and Richard Gerver I started to reevaluate what I seen as important.
This book really helped me see that change has always been there but if we try to control all aspects and stick to what we know then that will not help us deal with the accelerated changing world we live in now and in turn limit the children we teach. Since coming to Stonefields it has been a breath of fresh air to have leadership, asking questions and solving problems together rather than wanting to be seen to have all the answers and 'in control'. A lot of children I teach are open to all possibilities and I have learnt the more I remain childish instead of trying to be an 'adult' the easier life becomes because I am more able to adapt instead of needing everything to go as planned.
Through my recent work into agency it has become clear that some of my children get anxious when they get things wrong or when there is a change, so not all kids are as open as it may seem. So I have been thinking of ways to integrate this into my approach of building their self awareness and allowing them to see how their feelings towards their learning has an impact on their outcomes.
As part of the Agency Team we wanted to share our practises and get other teachers starting to think about how they can get their learners to be more agentic.
St Patrick's Day celebrations were in full flight this morning, hence the sprinkle of green on us!
We have had many teachers, especially in the Junior school, finding it difficult to see how their learners can be agentic as they thought it had to be children independently doing everything. However, during my session we talked about children becoming agentic as a journey, there are steps that the children will take throughout their education and we are continually creating stimulating environments for them to achieve.
My background has always been Early Years and this year I chose to go up to the big scary world of the Seniors. When making the choice to move up the thing I thought I was going to miss the most was all the 'fun' eg dressing up as a princess, putting on different voices and most of all using my resources to interact with the learners because I would have to pretend to be cool. To my surprise, and this is what I shared with the teachers, seniors still love all this. I remember when on a training day in the U.K. a successful Headteacher said to me 'teaching in the Early Years will prepare you for teaching in all the years.' And I didn't realise what she meant until now. In order to get 3-7 year olds engaged you need to make your teaching visible, interactive and stimulating or else they won't even look at you. But I think just because the older kids are more disciplined we can forget they need all of this as well but it just might look a bit different. It's safe to say, once I started to get the dress up box out and use Superheroes in their learning they were loving it, and it also meant I didn't have to pretend to be as cool as I thought because I think they were seeing right through that act.
'Visible learning is teachers seeing learning through the eyes of their students and students seeing themselves as their own teachers.' - John Hattie
I illustrated how I have been continually refining my visible resources and how it is crucial to build a language for learning through interactive teaching as part of the early stages in the journey of agency. Eventually we want the children independently noticing how their choices have impacts on their overall future. Therefore, building the children's self awareness and ability to reflect are the stepping stones to this. It was great to share this with colleagues and they have been requesting that I share these resources so they can use them in their teaching, juniors and seniors alike.
Choosing to adapt my teaching to support the learners rather than expecting children to adapt the way they learn to my teaching.
After a few weeks of trying to stimulate the language of learning through my Visual Resource I realised that the qualities I was trying to get the children to understand where very broad and abstract. So, I reflected on what I believed each of the qualities include and broke this down into key bullet points.
The learners have now created their own "Super Slides" and each week we are focusing on each of these bullet points. I continue to remind the children during the lesson what they are looking for in their learning and at the end of each lesson they choose evidence to show how they are achieving the qualities. This is introducing agency within our learning as they are building their capacity to assess their work and relate it to their own awareness of their learning.
Continually reflecting with other members of staff allows me to refine my resources but the main thing I am realising is my Support Learners are very capable to be agentic but it is our responsibility as educators to provide the platform that they can succeed. So relating these higher level, abstract ideas through pictorial, visual resources I am definitely seeing the children's voice becoming more self aware - making connections between their inner and outer voice.
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'Tsunami of change about to hit our shore, which I believe will totally transform the way we look at education'
I am so lucky to work in a school that continually researches and implements tools that helps the children become empowered to reach their potential. So, when discussing what the language of learning that supports Agency looks like I quickly realised we already have this in our hubs; Self Aware, Reflective, Determined, make Connections, Think, Wonder and Question .
However, when I took an audit of the children to see if they could show a deep understanding of where they show these in their learning they struggled. Therefore, I set up our Stonefields Superheroes in my Literacy group as this is where I will be trying to build Agency with my Support Learners.
Introducing this visual resource, I modelled the language for learning and have been getting the children to share their successes at the end of each lesson by making connections into where they have used these qualities throughout the lesson. In turn, I hope to see the children building an understanding of their actions through developing their oral capacity and go from surface level connections to using this vocabulary independently.
I have always had an interest in supporting the 'belows' as I feel they are struggling accessing the learning not because they can not do it! So as part of my inquiry into what agentic learning looks like, I wanted to come from the angle of how can we support learners to be more agentic?
Mark Treadwell's The Future of learning has given me great insights into starting my inquiry and I believe before we can expect our learners to even think about being agentic we have to equip them with a language for their learning and support them in understanding their thinking and how this has an impact on their actions.
So, I decided to find out a little bit more about me as a leader and a learner before I started thinking about my teaching. Not loosing my spark of madness was one of the tips I was given - great start I think! After taking the 16 personalities test and the CLARA test I found lots of things that related to me and some..... I wasn't too sure.
'Campaigners tend to see life as a big, complex puzzle where everything is connected, through a prism of emotion, compassion and mysticism, and are always looking for a deeper meaning.'
From my results I agree with this statement and I hope these qualities will help me with my Inquiry into Leaner Agency. I want to solve different ways to tap into my learner's thinking and help them go from surface level thinking to developing and leading deeper meaning.
So the CLARA tool showed me that I have a lot of Hope, Optimism and Sense making as strengths but I need to work on my Collaboration and Creativity. Hmmm, when I first saw these results I actually thought they did not reflect me as I thought I was quiet creative in my teaching but when I read the results I started to connect with the picture.
'You probably feel freer at some times and in some places than you do in others to ‘let your imagination off the leash.' Reflect on what makes it appropriate and safe to be Creative in your place of learning.'
I would agree with this, I have been working on putting my ideas forward to others as I feel very safe in my teaching to be creative but showing this in front of others, sometimes I feel restricted so I will continue to develop this and TRY to start 'Letting answers come to me in the moment, rather than only looking things up.'
Although we do not know what the future holds I feel we have to attempt to understand what qualities and skills will be needed/desired to be successful adults: creative, risk takers who can self regulate and adapt to a changing environment (with confidence or resilience?). - That's my thoughts anyways. Helping children to accept and understand what ‘comfortable with being uncomfortable so you are prepared for anything’ means.