Fears and Observations

I’m at the stage in the Cohort 21 process at which I feel a little stuck. Maybe this is just the common experience of Cohort people, but if I a perfectly honest, I am feeling discouraged.

On a Twitter chat, I shared my how might we statement with the Cohort community. It was well-received, resulting in some tweets celebrating the idea for the project itself, and others offering wonderful resources. However, as much as I appreciate this reception, I am still wondering if this question is good enough.

Even so, I think I’m asking an important one.

How might we foster real, brave conversations between students and teachers that lead to real changes within a high-performance, high-output environment?

This question needs to be asked, but so many things come to mind that make me doubt it.

Aren’t we already asking this?

Are you essentially trying to be a psychotherapist? (No!)

Hasn’t this been done before?

Aren’t there already so many resources that answer this question?

However, even though these questions bombard my mind, I still think we need to keep asking this. See, no matter how many programs we put in place or how many wonderful people we have leading the way here, we have to keep asking this. We need to keep pushing to be better at this, no matter who we are or who has done groundbreaking things here. No matter how much research exists and how many programs have been devised.

Yes, we need to keep looking to the great work that has been done. We are not looking to reinvent the wheel here. We are not sacrificing good, sound practices on the altar of innovation. We just need to keep being better at this.

The problem is, where do I start?

I started by making some quiet observations on how students behave in one-on-one conversations with me as we worked on refining writing assignments.

Stay tuned!

3 Replies to “Fears and Observations”

  1. Hey Eadaoin (@eoboyle),

    I think by sharing your fears and observations here you have demonstrated how to foster real and brave conversations between teachers and teachers that could lead to real change.

    So let’s get started, shall we.

    Let me share with you my opinion, because I feel that is what you are looking for. Not more amplification of well-received tweets or celebrations of procrastination. Real advice.

    Your question is too vague and cryptic to possibly be of any value to you or the students. What do you mean by “brave conversations”? Do you mean inclusivity? Do you mean talking about marks or failure? I’m not sure. What do you mean by “real changes”? Do you mean going gradeless? Getting rid of uniforms? Having students on the board? Finally, what is a “high-performance, high-output environment”? Are you a P.E. teacher? Are the students working in a sweat shop?

    Part of my advice here is deliberately sarcastic. What I’m hoping you can do is clarify your intentions, which are amazing. Coming from someone who has radically redefined what high school is for myself and others, I am now having those brave conversations with students every single day. Because I made it happen. Because I no longer have to worry about the repercussions of an established private school with an agenda, or administration unlikely to risk change if it upsets alumni perception. There are a whole host of reasons why schools don’t change and only one reasons why they do: passionate teachers.

    Keep up the great work of asking questions and reflecting. Make your question more specific and you will find it will have universal appeal.

    See you soon,
    Eric Daigle

  2. @eoboyle

    Your question “How might we foster real, brave conversations between students and teachers that lead to real changes within a high-performance, high-output environment?” is a great reminder of where you left off at the last face to face but it does not have to be where you end.

    My first question back to you is WHY are you asking it?

    Are teachers not being honest with their feedback because of some sort of fear? If so what is that fear?

    Are students (right now) not equipped to participate in “honest conversation” If so what skills do they need in order to be able to do so?

    The first question requires you to look at “HOW” you are giving feedback, the language you are using and the framework you are working in. It is a coaching questions as much as it is about assessment and feedback. Both are AWESOME places to explore as over the next four months. HUGE strides have been made in these areas. Just ask @ddoucet and @gnichols

    my second question is all about “Building Mindset”. Do you students have the kind of mindset that is required to have “honest conversations” about them as learners? Should all conversations be the same or do we differentiate based on “who” we are talking to and the relationship we have? So many rich ideas and research to explore in this area as well.

    You have lots of choice here. All of them more than “good enough” to be worthy of your time and attention.

    The question back to you is what question (when you read it back to yourself) excites you so much that will make time to answer it 🙂

    See you next Friday!

Leave a Reply