At the ASCD Annual Conference last week in San Francisco, I gained new perspectives on education from educators all over the U.S. and the world — and discovered big ideas and new books. Here are four samples of my newfound knowledge. I hope you’ll read on, post your thoughts, and share your insights.
Making Change and Overcoming Resistance
Keynote speaker Chip Heath, best-selling author and professor at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford, inspired me with invaluable ideas about making change. Whether you’re a teacher leader, instructional coach, or administrator, you’ll want to read Chip’s latest book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, which he wrote with his brother, Dan.
Successful changes follow a predictable, sometimes surprising pattern. Understanding the pattern makes it possible for us to overcome obstacles and make meaningful change.
Teaching Habits of Mind and Setting High Expectations
I attended a day-long pre-conference workshop about the Habits of Mind, a set of 16 values and positive character traits that govern thinking and behavior. Authors and researchers Graham Watts and Karen Boyes led the workshop, and Arthur Costa and Bena Kallick, founders of the Institute for Habits of Mind, were honored guests.
We need to explicitly teach the Habits of Mind. Even kindergarten students can understand the principles of persistence, precision, and impulsiveness. Habits of Mind appear in the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, which is yet another reason to incorporate these principles into our direct instruction and to stress their importance with our students. Habits of Mind are applicable to parenting and adult-to-adult relationships, too.
Fostering Creativity and Finding Joy in Teaching and Learning
Peter Reynolds, author and illustrator of the picture books The Dot and Ish, among others, shared his personal journey. He told a rapt audience that teachers had inspired him to pursue his artistic dreams. Today Peter and his twin brother have a multimedia company called FableVision Learning, which has offices at the Boston Children’s Museum. You’ll want to look at FableVision’s DVDs, online products, and books.
The arts are a human need and a powerful motivating force. We need to truly integrate the visual arts, music, and dance into everything we teach.
Enhancing Teacher Evaluation and Promoting Self-Reflection
From Linda Inglis, Dean Michailides, Mary Michailides, and David Morris, administrators in Edmunton, Alberta, public schools, I learned about instructional talk-throughs (ITT). Instructional talk-throughs, a further refinement of classroom walkthroughs, incorporate same-day feedback from colleague-observers. The key to successful ITTs is to start small with a group of volunteer teachers, trusted colleagues who are willing to observe one another’s classes. After the observations, teachers meet for debriefing/feedback over lunch. Thoughtful analysis is sprinkled with suggestions.
Our Edmunton colleagues have much to teach us about effective teaching and teacher evaluation. Start by taking a look at the conference handouts.