Today, the first day of a new term, started with two short presentations from two of our PLCs (Personal Learning Communities) as part of “Monday” Teaching and Learning briefings. These briefings are important to my view of leading a school, replacing the much abused “morning briefing overload” with real conversations on what matters most in schools.
This morning I was taught an important lesson. My colleague John Irvine took one of my leadership tenets or proposals, of “teaching to the top,” and togther with his group repackaged / rethought / redefined it as “teaching with high expectations.” Our aims are the same. We want every child to strive, we want to discourage the complacent conformers and reveal the hidden underachievers. A subtle ammendment brought more staff with us/him.
To help illustrate his redefinition his shared Mike Buscemi poem “The Average Child.” A poem significantly older than my career and one that has eluded me quite successfully.
The Average Child
- by Mike Buscemi
I don’t cause teachers trouble;
My grades have been okay.
I listen in my classes.
I’m in school every day.
My teachers think I’m average;
My parents think so too.
I wish I didn’t know that, though;
There’s lots I’d like to do.
I’d like to build a rocket;
I read a book on how.
Or start a stamp collection…
But no use trying now.
’Cause, since I found I’m average,
I’m smart enough you see
To know there’s nothing special
I should expect of me.
I’m part of that majority,
That hump part of the bell,
Who spends his life unnoticed
In an average kind of hell.
First shared at 1979 National PTA Convention in the US.
Average has been taking a bit of a pasting recently. No more than in data and student targets. Lets not forget Education Minister fumbles. Then, my current go-to thinking podcast Curious Minds interviews Todd Rose on the Myth of Average only for Todd Rose to pop up locally on TES. An advocate for jagged profiles, situational individuality and eccentric pathways to success.
…if you accept the reality of individuality, then it means that we have to rethink how we define equal opportunity in education and beyond. Todd Rose
That is where our second PLC picks up the mantel. Focus school are developing a new approach to teaching and learning – Self Directed Learning. An approach that offers a multi-dimensional approaches to learning, with no fixed time reference, starting point or limiting or restricted pathways to the outcome. Combining these two PLCs with our third on assessment, I genuinely believe we are a part the ground swell of innovation.
Update: November 2018
Two years on, I have made a better fist on “teaching to the top.” Search – the rising tide principle of effective teaching.