Receiving feedback to improve teaching and learning

Receiving feedback from students is one of the most effective and genuine ways for teachers to improve their practices.

As teachers, it should always be a personal mantra to never settle for what’s good but to continuously improve one’s craft.  In doing so, setting up an effective and efficient evaluation system could pave the way to improve teaching and learning.

receiving feedback from students

Receiving feedback from students

Students’ feedback serves as a valuable tool.   Due to the fact that they are the ones who are at the receiving end, students experience the full process of teaching and learning in every single session.

Thus, it’s always about looking at feedback constructively and filtering comments from students to maximize the best learning practices suitable for the students.

For an instance, if students feel that a writing activity gets tedious, a teacher may modify a writing reflection task.  In effect, instead of writing a 500-word essay individually, they just may write it collaboratively or in just 350 words.

Of course, good feedback is worth keeping and improving. Knowing what the students prefer would enable teachers to develop plans in such a way that it could hit the students’ interests and preferences.

Likewise, by knowing what they don’t like, teachers could modify the activity next time and compromise with them so that they could still develop certain skills without straining them that much.

Feedback instruments for students

Student evaluation may come in oral or written. Teachers may gather information from written reflection and some oral or casual comments from students.

For example,  value-guided reflection writing may be one form of acquiring feedback. In this exercise, students get to write a short, standard essay of at least 150 words to express what they learned and how to improve their learning experience.

In addition to reflection activities,  teachers could ask students to do the following:

  1. Think Logs. These are just short reflections and points for reflection students should write in a notebook.
  2. Exit Posts. On a board near the door, teachers may ask students to post whatever they think about the session before they leave the room. A simple code scheme like smileys or ticks could determine how they liked the class. If a student puts a sad face, the teacher may have to ask the student how to help him/her.
  3. Mind map/interactive reflections. Reflections may come in different forms like mind maps, video, PowerPoint, blogs, audio recording or even a sketch.

Other than that, teachers could also conduct formal self-evaluations and interviews to gauge student feedback. Students may fill in an evaluation sheet at the end of a particular unit. Perhaps, teachers could have a more holistic perspective on the students’ learning and perspectives from this exercise.

Data presentation skills: A researcher’s guide

In every research, data presentation plays the most inevitably crucial role in representing the outcome of the study. It is the result, finding and evidence to substantiate every study.

It is not enough for our data to just sit in our hard drives.  These valuable information needs to be shared and communicated in the best way possible.

Why do we have to do data presentation well?

Visual tools are the first “thing” for the readers and reviewers, who are often busy to read. In effect, when it comes to the needs of a reader to just briefly scan through a research paper (due to time constraint), tables, figures, charts, and diagrams are the best visual aids to let the reader know what the research is about.

Imagine the hassle of reading a heap of words and numbers where you can just neatly organize them into a table?

Hence, a well-presented data also speaks for the researcher himself. It can depict the proficiency of the researcher in utilizing appropriate visual tools.

This creates great impressions on readers and to lure the readers to read more on the content.

In addition, visual aids can indirectly enhance the memory of readers. Thus, the art of presenting data is of utmost importance to be mastered.

The visual aids must be self-explanatory.

It has to be understandable so as to inform the readers about something important about the study. To know the validity of the table, we need to evaluate whether this table/figure stand on its own.

The purpose of putting up a table or any figure should be significant. Avoid putting up a pie chart just to show the distribution of male and female respondent. By the way, a pie chart is a NO-NO in research papers. Hence, save it for gossip magazines.

Apart from that, not all readers can understand abbreviations. If a reader has to look for the list of abbreviations or read the text to understand an abbreviation, the quality of the research paper can be doubted. Therefore, the full-form of abbreviations should be written on a line below a table or figure for the reader’s easy reference.

The title of each table and figure must be descriptive enough to tell what the data is representing.

In data presentation, the title for each table and figure has to be informative and descriptive. The title should be clear and specific. Do not let your readers guess what the tables and figures are trying to show.

For example: “Mean reaction times and percentage of errors by facial condition and sex of participants”

The placement of titles is also something one should be particular of. For tables, the title should be above the table. This is to ease the readers to read the title as they are reading the title bar on top of the table. Meanwhile, for figures, the title should be below the graph or chart. This is for the readers to easily read the title as they are scanning the axis bar.

Present the data in an organized pattern.

One definitely cannot simply present the data as he wished. Take the bar chart below as an example:

data presentation bar chart

(Retrieved from: http://abacus.bates.edu/~ganderso/biology/resources/writing/HTWtablefigs.html)

Thus, the items on the x-axis should be arranged in a pattern. It can be according to alphabetical order or according to the trend (increase or decrease in number).

[Note: no dot after “Figure 1”]

Meanwhile, for tables, it should be simple with only 3 (or more if the table is too big, but try to minimize the number of lines) horizontal lines. There could be alternating shadings for rows if the table is too big. Always line up the decimal points in one straight line.

 

clear table

(Example of a clear table)

Relate the text to the tables and figures

Before a wordy title, always insert a label or number for that particular table or figure for referencing.

For example: “Table 2 Mean reaction times and percentage of errors by facial condition and sex of participants”

There is not necessary to put a full stop (.) or colon (:) after “Table 2”.

After that, make sure the table or figure serve their purpose. Always remember to relate the text or analysis of result to the table or figure shown. Tag the table or figure using their respective labels as such:

Table 2 shows that…

……… (Table 2).

Avoid repeating data.

While presenting the data in text form, avoid writing down all values from the table in word form as it is redundant. Try using one sentence to summarize the findings from the table.

Most importantly, great data presentation skills can depict how professional a researcher is. The tips above are not all, but something people do not usually notice or put emphasis on.

Take a small step to change, and great impact on your research skills will follow!

The problem of an outdated education system: A commentary

When you dispose of rubbish improperly, they just pile up until they form a mountain of rubbish.   This is the problem of an outdated education system.

It might be the 21st century, but schools still have that Victorian Era vibe in them.

Through the years, the intention of improving systems of education around the world has always been there.  However, the big problem lies in how these improvements become part of our reality.

Education as a natural privilege beyond rights

Idealists will always harp on the innate nature of education as a privilege for all and the responsibility of those who can provide.  Education must always be for all.

Most noteworthy of all, everyone has the right to proper education.  To learn the tricks of life is what education ought to be. Therefore, here lies the biggest problem of education.

The denaturalization of education

Denaturalization is the process of taking away the natural aspects of a phenomenon by encasing it in a box of mechanical standards. To illustrate this, as soon as a mother or father teaches a baby to talk or walk, that’s the first sign of education.

In effect, as the baby grows up, parents pass on the social responsibility of sending their child to school.

By this time, parents detach themselves from teaching their child.  They entrust them to the system that institutionalizes education. Hence, the primary essence of education gets lost.

Institutionalizing the education system

To add more insult to injury, bigger systems use education to function under their wings.  When schools start serving an institution (i.e. government, religion, private companies), it takes away the learning power of a student.  Thus, this converts the student into a mere mechanical product shaped in the nature of an institution the school serves.

An individual’s capabilities are sacrificed and replaced by a collective knowledge and standardized abilities.  It would have been helpful if these lead to genuine life-skills development.  On the contrary, the progress leads to satisfying institutionalized standards like tests and certifications.

On a final note, education itself becomes a problem as it defeats its primary nature and purpose.  Schools must educate children for them to learn what they need and what they want.  It is not for the school or any institution to purely decide on what individuals need and want.

Learning and the learners are the main thrust of education and NOT the self-serving intentions of institutions.

Therefore, it’s time to clean up this mess and go back to the basics.

Turning the tales of turnaround schools to reality

The case of turnaround schools is like a fairy tale of schools.  However, in this Cinderella story, the miracle happens in the reality of schools all over the world.

Transforming a school from low to high performing is not an impossible feat. It is an undertaking of sheer will power and impressive organizational skills.

the case of turnaround schools

The case of low-performing schools

Describing the performance of a school requires certain standards. Obviously, these standards are set by certain boards.  On the other hand, these could be as simple as logical discretion.

To be more objective, student achievement usually quantifies a school’s performance.  Based on grades attained by students, these could be from internal or external examination.  Any school can simply claim high performance according to internally assessed work.  However, through standardized exams, schools get to establish themselves as high-performing schools due to impressive results.

For example, schools from Shanghai and Singapore have established themselves as top schools based on PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) results in reading, maths, and science.

In the United States, proficiency tests enable assessors to determine the performance of a school and even a district.

Aside from grades, school performance based on student achievement also includes graduation rates and the ability of the students to go to colleges or universities.

On top of these quantitative factors, the quality of infrastructure and instructional practices come into play.

Logically, low performing schools usually score below the acceptable standards in all or most of these factors.

The case of turnaround schools

The study of Klugman et al. (2015) on turnaround schools in Illinois brings this ugly duckling tale into reality.  In 2013, the University of Chicago conducted a statewide survey involving school stakeholders.  The data from this research lead to findings on turning low to high performing schools.

learning in turnaround schools

Firstly, socio-economically disadvantaged communities and rural schools lack the support system they need.  In effect, these schools are at risk of lower student outcomes.

Now, what should be done to these schools?

Due to this inadequacy, providing the essential support system could provide a chance for these schools to transform.  More importantly, the following essential support factors should be considered:

  1. Effective leadership
  2. Collaborative teachers
  3. Involved families
  4. Supportive environment
  5. Ambitious instruction

If schools could look into these factors, then change may take place.  Perhaps, a strong support system could lead to better student outcomes.  Therefore, school leaders and district supervisors must meet these essential supports to improve the system.

Finally, current studies on school improvement and leadership establish the correlation between the two.  Hence, school transformation would require supportive leadership that fosters strong, effective instructional principles and practices.

References

Klugman, J., Gordon, M. F., Sebring, P. B., & Sporte, S. E. (2015). A first look at the 5Essentials in Illinois schools. RESEARCH SUMMARY.

A good research question leads to a good research

To start an educational research with a good research question is quite daunting for novice researchers.

Morphologically, the word research comes with a prefix ‘re-‘ like repeat or redo.  This signifies that it is a continuous action—a continuous search. As a cycle, the process of research does not seem to have a definite beginning and an end.

However, formulating research questions can be a definitive start for this cycle.

Thinking of a research question

A research question is an integral part of the research process. By starting with a question, a researcher can identify research problems and kickstart the research cycle.

In effect, identifying a problem during the early stage of research takes place by interconnecting with various sources.  For example, a researcher may look into experiences, theories, non-education sources, social issues, and related literature (Ary, et al., 2010).

Identifying the problem

Hence, for educational researchers, there is a need to look for problems from professional experience.   The school principal serves as a good starting point when it comes to looking for a research problem.

By informally asking the principal of his [perceived] struggles in his school,  he can give the researcher a piece of his mind by mentioning the challenges and the struggles he usually faces.

From this, the research journey begins, as we can start formulating some research questions.  Although one would wonder, “How do we form a clear research question that could give us a defined research problem?”

Planning the research

Subsequently, Cohen, et al. (2005) believes that a vital part of careful planning involves setting and making the parameters of the research clear and explicit. In his book, Cohen emphasizes the significance of defining the aims of the research.  Perhaps, this is a good way of managing the planning stage of the research process. Relatively, it enables the researcher to have a more focused research problem.

Moreover,  the purpose of the research needs to be well-defined.   The researcher has to base this on the topic and the research problem.  This could be anchored on personal and professional experience, as well as related literature (Cohen, et al., 2005; Cresswell, 2012). Consequently, this may lead to ideal research questions.

The combination of a clear topic, problem, purpose, and questions provide a strong foundation for a promising research. Other than that, supported readings and experiences could still strengthen the foundation of the study. This makes the entire research cycle a seemingly never-ending process of establishing one’s perceived ‘truth’.

 

Clearly, with a polished research topic, problem, purpose, and questions, educational researchers could produce a good research proposal and a more meaningful research experience. Therefore, before plunging into the design and methodology, we need to constantly consult our peers and research supervisors with regards to the quality of the research questions.

“Prevention is better than cure.” So, does this hold true for research?

Or should we say, “Is a good research really grounded on good research questions?”

References:

Ary, D., Jacobs, L. C., Razavieh, A., & Ary, D. (2010). Introduction to research in education (pp. 49-56). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2000). Research methods in education (pp. 43-50). London: RoutledgeFalmer.

Trump’s Twitter Leadership versus the Leaders’ Rulebooks

In just two weeks into his presidency, Trump has started to rewrite the rulebooks of leadership. Well, this new paradigm revolves around this new concept of Twitter Leadership with Trump at its helm.

Pundits and commoners have been very vocal about Trump’s leadership style. Obviously, there are always two sides to a coin.

Evaluating Trump’s leadership as the 45th US president needs a non-political context.

Feasibly, this might sound absurd. But, as Trump’s words and actions have been highly political in nature, we can’t be too redundant in our analysis.

Twitter Leadership in action

 Trump’s ‘Twitter Leadership’

First, we need to define what this ‘Twitter Leadership’ is. No rulebook on leadership has ever coined this term, so let REEDEL be the first. There is no need to complicate the obvious. Through Twitter, Trump built the momentum of his campaign. Eventually, through Twitter, Trump has stamped his mark as the US president in the past two weeks.

Definitely, @realDonaldTrump has made waves not just in the US but also as far as Twitter’s reach. From his Great Wall and Muslim Ban tweets, Trump has moved the political arena from the Lincoln Memorial to the Twitter-sphere.

Pun aside; he’s got 23.8M followers. That’s more than enough to define a ‘leader’.

On a more serious note, is that enough to define him as a ‘real leader’ according to the rulebooks of leadership?

Trait Leadership and Trump

Proponents of trait leadership believe that a leader is born not made. One of them is Stephen Zaccaro (2007), who believes in leadership skills as inherent attitudes and behaviors.

Zaccaro’s model includes the following attributes:

  1. Personality
  2. Cognitive Abilities
  3. Motives and Values
  4. Social Appraisal Skills
  5. Problem Solving Skills
  6. Expertise/Tacit Knowledge

More importantly, Zaccaro (2007) noted that leadership effectiveness comes from the combination of these traits rather than ‘independent contribution of multiple traits.’

Now, if we are to juxtapose these with Trump, we can say that he has all these, but the quality remains to be in question.

Let’s just take three of the six attributes by asking these questions:

  1. If he has a ‘good personality’, would he openly use crude expressions?
  2. Well, if he has high cognitive abilities, would he refuse to accept the facts especially the numbers during his inauguration?
  3. If he has such ‘values’, could he think of other policies aside from banning Muslims?

Henceforth, this closes Trump’s chances of falling under a ‘Trait Leader’.

Transactional Leadership and Trump

Perhaps, Trump has high chances of falling under this category. Besides, transactional leadership is the closely relevant to management—a top-down approach for easy maintenance.

For this reason, basic assumption dictates how Trump fits in this category as a business mogul.

However, let’s take a closer look at one of the models as proposed by Bernard Bass (1981), which can be summarized in three points:

  1. Laissez-faire: abdicates responsibilities/delegates/assigns
  2. Management by exception: corrections and punishment
  3. Contingent reward: promises rewards for good performance

Again, it’s the combination of these three that makes a good transactional leader, which brings positive impact to an organization. Does Trump make the cut?

Well, he has abdicated responsibilities to his family, son-in-law, and even Steve Bannon.

In addition, he has fired Sally Yate, the acting attorney general, for “refusing to enforce a legal order”.

Unfortunately, Trump has not promised any rewards yet—just walls and bans.

The buck stops there for Trump and Transactional Leadership.

Transformational Leadership and Trump

A transformational leader is usually associated with the word ‘charisma’. Once again, people can safely assume that by being a formal reality show host, Trump could be a transformational leader.

Nevertheless, let’s benchmark Trump against Bass’ model of transformational leadership. Bass (1990) does not box a transformational leader in a charismatic brand.

Consequently, for him, superior leader performance comes when a leader creates awareness of the mission and allows their follower to go beyond.

Likewise, Bass’ Transformational Leader goes by these traits:

  1. Charisma: Provides vision and sense of mission
  2. Inspiration: Communicates high expectations
  3. Intellectual Stimulation: Promotes intelligence
  4. Individualized Consideration: Treats every person respectfully

Given the abovementioned traits, it’s definitely a NO for all for Mr. President.

Twitter Leadership in full swing!

Twitter Leadership and Trump

With all three major leadership theories squeezed out, what’s left for Mr. Donald J. Trump?

Definitely, he does not fit in any of the three mainstream leadership ideals because he is Trump. He does not follow the Bible because he creates his own canon of alternative facts.

Hence, we propose a theory: the Twitter Leadership. It does not fall in any of the three leadership models, although it has some traces of transactional leadership.

In addition to the earlier definition of Twitter Leadership, this theory can be simply explained by the following:

  1. Simplistic: Vision and policies must fit in 140 characters.
  2. Social Media Driven: The official medium of communication and source of information devoid of fake news
  3. Self-promoting: The leader should be at the center of everything.

Arguments aside, @realDonaldTrump fits this model perfectly.

As a challenge to future researchers in this colorful field of leadership, Trump is the perfect guinea pig for this paradigm shift.

How effective is Twitter Leadership? We will find out in the next four years.

Top 5 reasons why teachers quit international schools and how to deal with it

In this fast paced world, teachers quit international schools for a hundred and one reasons. The departure of a teacher from a school is part of how human resource in an organization function. Indeed, it is a very personal decision too.

People come; people go. However, if there is a significant number of teachers leaving a school, the resultant impact is potentially destructive.

A study by Glenn Odland and Mary Ruzicka (2009) has deemed that a moderate turnover in a school is healthy. But, the recent statistics shows that teacher turnover percentages are in a pessimistic range. A high turnover of school teachers is not what we are after for. What are the reasons for this trend?

funny look at why teachers quit international schools

Reason 1: Causal factors related to administrative leadership and why teachers quit international schools

The central ideas of statement categorized to administrative leadership are:

  • Communication between senior management and faculty
  • Support from principal and senior management
  • Teacher involvement in decision-making

Support from the administrative level of the school and the involvement of the teachers in decision-making greatly affect the turnover of teachers.

With an autocratic system being practiced in the school, together with the culture which lacks appreciation, administrative leadership is a clear indicator why teachers quit their job.

Reason 2: Compensation package

The compensation package differs from one school to another. In effect, the school which provides a low compensation package to the teachers induces a large turnover of teachers.

Some teachers complain that the salary scheme they were on was insufficient for them to cover the living cost.

Reason 3: Personal circumstances why teachers quit international schools

Personal circumstances and teacher mobility are often correlated factors when teachers quit international schools. Similarly, personal factors are influential enough to contribute to why teachers quit international schools.

These factors are from individual preferences, but the most common ones include the following: the desire to explore new cultures and countries; boredom and exhaustion; and, family matters.

Reason 4: Issues stemming from private ownership

International schools are often highly-independent profit-based organizations. Some studies suggested that the leading cause of teacher turnover in international schools is governance issue in the school.

The dictatorial policies by the owner of the school, like micro-managing the school with poor resources and humongous profit, have caused great dissatisfaction among teachers. Hence, this has become the reason of departure of the teachers.

Reason 5: Misrepresentation during recruitment

This factor involves the perceptions of teachers on how the management treated them during the recruitment phase.  For example, teachers revealed discrepancies between “what they were told in interview” and “the real-life situation”.

In addition, the school did not fulfill the promises and the offerings written in the contracts. Therefore, teachers feel a huge deal of misrepresentation in the school’s situation, and this has caused them to leave.

What should international schools do?

Despite the factor of personal circumstances, the administrative level personnel is the one who bears the most crucial role in combating the issue.

They should provide necessary support to teachers. Other than that, they should also build more bridges and destroy walls between the administrative level and the teachers.

By doing so, opportunities involving decision-making should come with adequate and effective communication.

Furthermore, the school must give an accurate representation of EVERYTHING in the process of recruiting teachers.  This is to minimize conflict and misunderstanding between the school and the newly-recruited teachers.

Moreover, the study by Odland and Ruzicka (2009) has also suggested that the school can carry out interviews with all teachers who are resigning. Such information and data from these teachers are valuable to address the serious problem of why teachers quit school.

With respect to the salary, compensation must be reasonable in accordance with a teacher’s home country and the living cost in the host country.

The financial statements and budgetary decision-making procedures of a school should be transparent and accountable to build the trust and confidence among teachers.

In effect, teachers who have clear comprehension on important school matters will have less doubt and more trust to the school.

Perhaps, a supportive, democratic, trustworthy and transparent school administrative leader will greatly help in reducing teacher turnover rate.  They must share responsibilities and encourage involvement in decision-making, without neglecting the provision of reasonable compensation to the teachers.

 

Reference:

Odland, G., & Ruzicka, M. (2009). An investigation into teacher turnover in international schools. Journal of Research in International Education, 8(1), 5-29.

Assessments: Is it just about evaluating students?

Assessments have always been a part of the school system.  Well, some might say that this is just a rebranding of examination.  However, it is more than that.

Since we follow a system in which every unit is assessed with a summative task, it is just proper to plan relevant assessment methods.  Relatively, this could help students develop skills necessary to meet the objectives of the unit through the assessment task.

Needless to say, it is important to have clear goals to measure one’s success.  By looking at these learning objectives, a teacher could be sure that relevant tasks measure students’ knowledge and skills.

Planning assessments

To be more specific, here are some guiding questions a lot of teachers consider in choosing and planning formative assessment methods for their students:

Does this reflect students’ understanding of the content and the concept?  Will my students find it interesting? Does this meet the set objectives of the unit? Are my directions easy to follow considering the level of my students? Does this contribute to the development of knowledge and skills necessary for the summative assessment?

With these questions in mind and with the thought of the capabilities of students, the next step is to draft an assessment plan suitable to students’ needs.

Post-assessment

In order to support the learners’ progress, this assessment has to be continuously and consistently monitored.

For example, in a language class, teachers usually follow the writing process. Through this writing process,  students get to plan their work then draft their essays.

After that, teachers may ask students to engage in peer and teacher evaluation prior to submission of their final work. This process enables teachers to gauge whether the students are developing skills essential to the completion of the task.

Since this is a formative task, teachers ought to give opportunities for our students to learn from their work through an effective exchange of feedback in the form of comments, written or oral, and the use of rubrics.

Both teachers and students should look at assessments as learning tools instead of merely tools for evaluation. It is through this perspective that real learning takes place–learning that goes beyond marks and letter grades.

School’s morale and the shift to caring leadership

The challenge of cultivating caring leadership is demanding.  Since caring leadership requires more than managing communities of teaching and learning, it embodies a balance of academic press and support.

Enhancing strong academic press and social support will benefit the students in their engagement to be academically and socially success. Thus, there is a quintessential central quality of academic and social support which is crucial – caring.

What is caring leadership about?

The definition of caring is vast.  It varies according to different context and perception.

Specifically, caring can be defined as a process of facilitating growth in his or her “own right”.   As such, it is something intended and expressed, perceived and receive by the cared for. So, why should one care?

Caring serves a wide spectrum of purposes.  For example, one of them is to promote the general development, welfare, and well-being of others.

In a way, showing compassion addresses the immediate needs of others.  However,  what makes it greater is the capacity to care through the experience of caring and being cared for. Moreover, a little act of kindness creates an endless ripple.

Caring should be expressed on multiple levels in a school.  In effect, it all starts from the principal, the level of teachers as they work collaboratively, and the level students as they work with peers.

How can school leaders be caring?

To be a caring leader, one must understand the five core elements revolving around caring relationships. These five elements are:

  1. Attentiveness
  2. Motivational displacement
  3. Situational
  4. Mutuality
  5. Authenticity

To express care to others, leaders must engage deeper and longer relationships, which involve the core element–attentiveness.

Perhaps, students in a school are in the zone of proximal emotional development. With this, they perceive the interactions from a supportive adult as a manifestation of compassion. In this case, it is the principal, teachers, or other school leaders.

Other than that, one condition to express care is trust. Trust is an expectation that others will be honest, and exert effort in good faith effort.

By creating a base of mutual support, it is a basic regard for the dignity of others!

In addition, caring leaders should also understand that continuity is also a vital enabling condition.  This can be enhanced when there is a connection between the past, present, and future because it creates a context for the relationship.

Furthermore, a caring leadership provides a safe, secure and conducive learning environment for the students.  This should be of utmost priority for a caring leader.

Next, caring leaders should inculcate the sense of ownership, share responsibility, and acknowledge accountability to motivate others to succeed. This will yield mutuality in the school environment.

How can this be practiced in schools?

As one cliché goes, “sharing is caring.”

Technically, low mobility or turnover among the teachers and students can engage a more stable, trustworthy, deeper and longer relationship. As a result, this creates the enabling condition for caring.

For the principal, he or she should never neglect teachers’ socio-emotional health. Teachers, who are cared for and supported, may provide classroom environments. As a result, this will contribute to broader goals of youth development.

When principals express care about teachers’ well-being, students are more likely to excel.

Moreover, school leaders should restructure schooling as caring communities. Actions that could be done include:

  1. engaging the school community in a shared vision
  2. introducing self-assessments related to caring among school members
  3. shaping school organizational culture through supportive structures
  4. nurture caring relationships in the school community.

How could this affect the school?

The school in which the leaders express care for, the students become more engaged as they have the sense of belonging to the school.

Students in the school ends up motivated and productive. In lieu to this, being caring can contribute to students’ academic achievement too.

Essentially, social and emotional learning (SEL) has a direct impact on one’s ability to show compassion. When people such as the students are responsible and if they have the sense of being a part of the community, this will develop a healthier mindset in children, eventually causing them to thrive.

Apart from that, a caring community will make people feel respected as they treat each other with dignity. Despite his or her position or niche in that school, equal opportunities lead to personal growth or professional development.

Therefore, a caring school leader will enable teachers to engage more interactively with the students, with more interesting and creative materials, and break the rigid boundary between adults and students.

At the end of the story, caring leadership can build a positive learning community in which every member cares and everyone can flourish.

Reference:

Louis, K. S., Murphy, J., & Smylie, M. (2016). Caring Leadership in Schools Findings From Exploratory Analyses. Educational Administration Quarterly, 0013161X15627678.

Differentiating lessons and catering to individual learner needs

A major aspect of differentiating the process is by using different materials and resources.  As a result, this must suit the need of the learners and the demands of the activity.

Though it may sound like a spectacle of sorts,  the quality of teaching is proportionally affected by the quality of learning materials and resources we use in class.

Differentiating content

In gauging the quality of teaching materials and resources,  we have to ask these questions:

  1. Are these resources and materials relevant to my lesson and my activity?
  2. Are these resources and materials appropriate for my students—their needs and their preferences?
  3. Will these resources and materials help my students in achieving their learning objectives?

However, the questioning does not stop there. The quality of these resources and materials had to be tested in the classroom.

For example, let’s take a look at one lesson in exploring the concept of IDENTITY through the movie, Divergent.

First, in introducing the concept of ‘Identity’,  the teacher may use the latest movie (Divergent, a movie adapted from a novel) students could relate with.

Assuming that a lot of students were able to watch this movie and read the book, they may easily able to grasp the concept.

On the other hand, some students may not be familiar with the book or the movie. So we may use slides (PowerPoint) to show the different factions and let some students share what they know about the movie and the book.

Through this harmonious use of resources and materials, students get a clear picture of the concept that leads to a meaningful and productive learning experience.

Differentiating the process

Various classroom activities lead to a higher level of learning outcome and holistic engagement (Marzano and Brown 157).

Again, this is anchored on the principles of differentiation.  Perhaps, we may plan teaching sessions in such a way that we divide the entire 80 minutes  into different segments of various relevant activities.  Thus, this leads to the realization of the learning objectives.

There is a need to put emphasis on the ‘Tuning In’ or motivation stage of the lesson. The first 15 minutes of the lesson is crucial in catching and keeping learners’ interest throughout the lesson.

By using social interactive strategies,teachers could catch the students’ attention. For example, teachers may refer to the latest  in popular culture.  More importantly, it’s always good to provide opportunities for students to talk about themselves.

As for maintaining their interest and making them stay on task, inconsequential competition could make the students more engaged.

During collaborative activities, students could work on differentiated tasks that follow the Multiple Intelligence theory.  As such, teachers may use a variety of question structures to make the students talk about their work.

Of course, stating the learning objectives at the start of the class and by reminding the students of their goals for the day help in managing the class.

By differentiating lessons, studentsMore importantly, teachers work specially on individual needs of the learners. won’t stray away from accomplishing their learning objectives. More importantly, teachers work specially on individual needs of the learners.