There seems to be some confusion about how schools should show their information to parents about the quality of provision for SEN children. Our local authority is asking us to list generic provision irrespective of the relevance or clarity of this information. It seems to me that the law is focused on what the local authority communicates and as a school we should help prospective and current parents know what we will be do for their children should they need our support for their needs. These are some good examples:
This article from Edutopia discusses how establishing Habits of Mind before academic or curriculum based learning can have greater benefits to the more effective learning.
Listening to others with Userstanding and Empathy
Thinking about our Thinking (metacognition)
Striving for Accuracy and Precision
Applying Past Knowledge to New Situations
Thinking and Communicating with Clarity and Precision
Gathering Data through All Senses
Creating, Imagining and Innovating
Responding with Wonderment and Awe
Taking Responsible Risks
This RSA Animate video, “Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us”, from Dan Pink clearly challenges the transactional approach to motivation that we find in education. In behaviour management, raising standards or in staff management the motivating phrase usually begins, “If you do this then…” or the corollary, “If you don’t do this then.” This has led to the insane situation where we now offer cash incentives to students so that they will try to do better in their exams. Teachers who stay in the profession for the moral purpose are condemned for not trying harder for the money. Many teachers use complex extrinsic reward systems to encourage children to work hard, be kind or even to eat their school dinner.
This video shares research which shows that people actually do worse when they are presented with the transaction to try harder for greater reward. Unless it is a mechanical, low cognition task then people do worse when they are offered greater rewards. This makes sense from a natural point of view. Babies and young children are instinctively motivated to learn and explore but when they arrive in school they are offered rewards to learn. Is this because educators don’t actually believe that what they are providing would be motivating?
In the video Dan Pink suggests that there are three things more motivating than money: autonomy, mastery and purpose. If we can bring these to our school and into the lives of the children then perhaps motivation won’t be our challenge anymore.
We were discussing yesterday how we could get the children to increase their language from, “it made me feel sad”. This may be about taking time just building vocabulary through art or music appreciation. It may be about literature that stretches vocabulary. Perhaps it is also about the children hearing how we feel?
After hearing a presentation on Restorative Practice I had a day trying out some of the techniques. It was powerful to see children taking part in telling “what had happened” and for the offender to be questioned about their behaviour without the associated discipline voice of the teacher. There were two or three opportunities that went well and it was useful to develop alternative ways of “repairing harm” rather than the usual retributive sanctions. I was struck by the need to develop children’s emotional language for questions like, “how did it make you feel?” which often results in the stock answer, “it made me feel sad”. Children also want to put things right by, “being good” or “stop being naughty” – neither of these result in any transforming behaviour.In the afternoon I had a go at a whole class circle time but there was very negative behaviour during the group where three girls made their own non- participating community by sitting out of the circle. There wasn’t a sufficient sense of whole community or community disapproval to shift this power balance.
Thursday 21st February Attended presentation about Restorative Practice in primary education. Very inspiring to hear about an alternative to our current practices which we employ to restrain behaviour but things rarely change. I believe that at times some people just need to be removed for the safety of others. There are other concerns about every child’s capacity to feel the guilt and responsibility of their actions – in short, “do they really care?”Restorative Justice/ Centre for Restorative PracticeInternational Institute of Restorative Practice