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What do you believe about learning design?

Posted by Scott Barron on Mar 4, 2014 1:32:47 PM
Scott Barron

Belief Words

What you genuinely believe about learning design will most significantly impact your academic results. It's the Why that motivates all other decisions. Vague beliefs are no beliefs.

Blended learning design is fragile when administrators make changes before they have established a shared vision around their core beliefs. The school's people, processes, and systems will devolve into chaos without properly aligned values, rules, and goals in place to keep everyone moving in the desired direction. By first establishing your values, subsequent changes will be purposeful and build commitment.

Below are three key values to consider when designing the administration of your school:

Teacher Engagement

Teacher engagement is the top predictor of student growth (See Building Engaged Schools, by Gary Gordon). The conversation around blended learning tends to focus on student engagement-- while this is important, attaining student commitment requires teachers who are fully engaged in your mission, culture, and strategies.

Through Matchbook Learning we have implemented blended learning in turnaround schools with severely disadvantaged students in high poverty areas. Their historically low performance results can be directly attributed to poor teachers and weak school design. Significant progress has been achieved in these schools so people from across the country want to know how we do it. Our secret sauce? Disciplined processes, especially around talent selection and development. This involves building a faculty culture that is able to attract top teachers and administrators, using a multimedia platform for perpetual recruiting, as well as keeping them engaged and motivated.

What evidence would you use to demonstrate your priority on teacher engagement? Look at where the administration devotes much of its time. In our visits to hundreds of schools each year the first indicator is whether the principal is more devoted to teacher engagement or student concerns. Without question the most effective principals realize that their top priority is adult education. They hire great teachers, support, coach, and evaluate them through a disciplined cycle, and then the teachers focus on the students.

Effective teaching is listening, and effective learning is talking

If you delve into research on how the brain works, this philosophy of measuring effective learning begins to make sense, even though it requires a shift in thinking for most teachers and administrators. We have adopted this philosophy in schools in which we are implementing blended learning. The reason this is an administration related value is that, as we’re evaluating teacher performance, we want to make sure that we’re measuring the best results. We’re not looking for teachers that just stand at the front of the room and lecture - we’re looking for teachers who are designing an inspiring learning experience and listening to their students.

Talent Quotient

Your ability to grow is equal to or less than your talent quotient. TQ is the ratio of high performing faculty and staff as compared to the rest of the school's employees. High performing schools always have a high talent quotient. Administration design considers how the chief administrator will hire well, fire well, and engage the stakeholders.

Topics: Administration, School Design, Blended Learning

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