Leadership For Teacher Learning

The ‘growth mindset’ of Stanford professor Carol Dweck is as important for teachers as it is for pupils, if we are to have schools that achieve effective learning for all students.

Dr Dylan Wiliams is a British educator who has become a renowned authority on strategic formative assessment. I was very glad to come across this webinar he did this week for Learning Sciences International. It's based on a new book he's just published.

He shares some fascinating research. What i particularly liked was that he challenges and questions some of the assumptions that have been drawn from past research and offers some alternative explanations. As he highlights, this is particularly important in terms of how leaders in education interpret research, draw conclusions and decide what to do in their schools as a result.

Unfortunately, I found that there were too many occasions when the visuals of the webinar weren't matching with what was being said. Fortunately, I was separately able to find a copy of the presentation slides, so that it's possible to see them independently from the audio. They can be found here:

Dylan Williams Center - leadership For Teacher Learning Slides

There are many points he raises. One I found interesting was the suggestion that, so far, there really are no effective ways to be able to tell who are the great teachers and who are not. This is a big issue when we know that the quality of teachers has a big impact for children. I liked his idea that if a teacher doesn't talk in terms of believing that they can gt better then this should be seen as a warning sign. Teachers who are committed to their own continuous improvement offer the best chance for raising educational standards. Teachers who believe they are as good as they can get (fixed mindset) are a risk in the classroom.

I was especially interested in his findings about formative assessment and also the research on comparing the costs of particular initiatives, the quality of evidence in favour of the intervention and the size of benefit it achieved.

The five processes of formative assessment was really valuable;

a) Clarifying, sharing and understanding learning intentions,
b) Eliciting evidence of prior learning,
c) Providing (motivating) feedback that moves learners forward,
d) Activating students as learning resources for each other (peer learning),
e) Activating students as owners of their own learning

I think that Wiliam's conclusions are spot on when he suggests that if teachers are to be growing and improving practice continually, there is an onus on both the teachers themselves and their leaders to create the climate and environment for this to happen. He also suggests some useful signs that progress is being made.

I would urge all teachers and education leaders who are regular readers of this blog to invest the time to watch the webinar. I think you'll find it time well spent.

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