This past Monday, I had the opportunity to spend the day learning from Doug Fisher, teacher, researcher and author of How to Create a Culture of Achievement. He opened the day asking two, critical driving questions. How do we create schools where students who attended look back and say, “I loved my experience there.” How do we make schools less boring? To that end, Fisher described the big picture framework from his research and within the aforementioned book. Indeed, we need create a culture…
- …that is welcoming
- …in which conditions for learning are ever-present
- …in which we examine how our behavior affects us, others, and our world
- …in which their is a shared belief that we are part of something special and great
- …in which language creates and facilitates personal pride, purpose, and power.
And, he reminds us, we have to nurture this culture through the attention to, what he calls in his book, the Five Pillars.
- Welcome (How do you feel when you walk in the school? Front office as concierge? Know the students names. Though families may spend years at a school, they may view the entire school through a single negative experience.)
- Do no harm (helping curriculum- did you offer, ask for, accept, decline to solve on own help – if a student struggles in reading, we teacher; if a student struggles in math, we teach; if a student doesn’t know how to behave, we punish – “If you knew me, you would know…” Restorative Practices help us help students see the harm they’re causing; Roberto Chene states, “it’s hard to dislike a person whose story you know.” Fisher, kids “need grown up who believe in them and whom they can talk to.” School and class rules-they need to apply to adults too, not just the students)
- Choice Words (“Do we use language that builds others’ sense of agency and identity?”)
- The language we use can positively or negatively affect the learning of students. It’s up to use to choose our words wisely.
- We foster growth mindset daily to unlock human potential.
- We are builders of identity and agency (agency is the belief in one’s capacity to act upon the world and identity is how we define ourselves).
- We are eliminating sarcasm as a means of providing feedback or trying to be funny
- We provide extensive opportunities for students each day to experience the power of their words to shape their learning and the learning of others.
- We listen.
- It’s never too late to learn (Fisher’s goal is that 50% of the instructional minutes involve student to student interaction. Fisher shares “research that is decades and decades old and hasn’t changed is that attention span is your age in number of minutes up to 10. After age 10 it does not get any better.”) Lesson overview In any order…
- I do it (focused instruction-purpose and modeling: Throughout the lesson, students ask themselves What am I learning today? Why am I learning this? How will I know that I have learned it?)
- We do it (guided instruction)
- You do it together (collaborative-Fisher reference several Kagan strategies)
- You do it alone (independent-research shows that long-term independent work results in work for students that is less rigorous; Fisher calls them “shut up sheets”)
- (Grading: homework is given, collected and feedback is given but it’s not graded; only assessments are graded. Any assessment under a 70% is a I-incomplete until all homework is collected and a retake is done. Can’t retake until homework is in. A student with an I must report to a tutorial done at lunch/recess or after school.)
- Best school in the universe (How, and how often, do we reinvest in ourselves and our mission? How would your school be different if students and adults saw possibility and believed they were able to make is a reality? Engage in “Rounding”. Identify a target group of adults or students and ask: What do you need that will help you do your job better? And, Who should be recognized for their efforts? Log your findings, then close the loop.)
- The best place to work.
- The best place to teach.
- The best place to learn.
Makes me think of our continuous improvement mindset st BCS – A Great Place to Be!
For videos examples of instruction in the classroom, visit the Fisher and Frey YouTube Channel.
And, since you read this far, you get a free laugh by viewing this short video that has to do with school culture in its own way #Responsibility&Accountability albeit not too sensitively…