I have had so many interactions this week, face to face and online that it has made me think a lot about the messages we give to others.
The power of what we say, how we say it and what we really mean can have impact far past what we may have consciously intended.
When writing 140 characters for a @twitter post we stop and think about what we want to say and how we can 'make it fit'. We get clever about adding an image, or a link to add detail, give meaning or make connections. We value what we say and value how people respond, if they do.
When we are communicating with our students do we stop and think about what we are really saying?
Reflecting on what we say and write is vital for meaningful communication.
Do your students value what you are saying? Is there actually anything to value?
When we read and comment on written and digital work, what does our feedback really say?
What does a check mark mean? 'I saw the page' or something else?
What do you mean when you write "good work" "great" or "keep trying" ? What will your student "do" with comments like that?
It takes time to open books to read student work. Those pages of student work represent thinking, collaboration, student understanding and so much more. If it is worth their time to do the work, then isn't it worth the effort to give comments that provide feedback and feed-forward that will say more than 'good work' or a smiley face or a check mark, or a number on the page.
When your student opens their work what message do you want them to get? Why will they bother to check what you wrote?
How can they continue to learn and develop understandings . . . have you suggested a next step . . . or provoked thinking . . . or asked questions ??
We have thousands of spoken interactions everyday with students, parents and colleagues. Do we stop and think about the words we say? Are we giving unintended messages? What do we really mean when we say something?
Whether you use twitter or not . . . there is power in thinking about the value of each of those 140 characters . . .
When we take the time to say what we really mean, to think about how our words can add value, support learning, build relationships, create trust and an environment for learning that embraces positive communication. Then we are in a place where we are providing 'feedback and 'feed-forward' that our students will value and use to take their learning further.
We have a good idea of where our students are at. The fact that we gather data about what students know and use that data to we provoke thinking. We create a diverse range learning situations, we guide and support students, we question and give feedback. We provide learning objectives and we work to build relationships with students.
That is what teachers do. We have expectations.
We expect that our students will learn, that they will make progress, we will see change. Sometimes we don't see students meeting what we think they will; so we review and reflect. We implement strategies to support their learning and take small steps to continue their learning journey. The expectations underpin the knowing.
We have expectations. Of course we do.
Our students are all in a ' zone of expectation '. Whether we consciously do this or not, we think we know where their understanding will roughly be and roughly how long it ' should ' take.
But do we really know? How can we really ' know' ?
Do we unintentionally create a ceiling for students that in fact limits their potential learning and understanding?
When we speak to students do our words give them limitation messages. Are we saying things that in fact lead them to think they have reached an 'end point'. What are we 'really' saying? Our words really matter.
What happens when students take one step outside that ' Zone of Expectation ' ?
When our students take action, when they make meaning and make connections that lead to other learning. Learning that extends past what we had expected of them, learning that isn't 'in the plan'. The place where they are really extending and challenging themselves intrinsically. They are in 'the flow' they are following their interest and are really developing understandings. Then they have taken that 'one step outside the ' Zone of Expectation '.
This place is different for every child.
The key as a teacher is knowing when your students have taken that step and determining how you can guide, support and encourage them, with out messages of limitation.
Empowering students is crucial, learning in a ' culture of permission ' provides students with a place where they can explore, challenge and make meaning of so many things.
If we aim for all our students to take 'one step outside of the expectation zone' then, that is when we will see a real difference for every child. Not the same difference for each but learning and developing for each in their own way.
Teaching in an IBPYP school; interests: student agency, technology integration, growth mindset & the continuous cycle of improvement that is the world of education, learning and being!