The Plastic Brain

Notes from a day with Steve Francis.

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Today’s Student Free Day was led by Steve Francis, and focused on a strategic direction of the school:

Student Engagement

I took some notes which barely scratch the surface, and may only acts a prompts for people who were actually there. Where possible, I have hyperlinked to his original sources. Here they are:

A survey of Year 10 students has found that the main characteristics for good teacher are:
  • Positive relationships with students
  • Fairness and equity
  • Passionate about their subject and teaching
5 levels of engagement (Schlechty, 2002 ) See also here (pdf).

  • Authentic engagement (flow)
  • Ritual compliance
  • Passive compliance
  • Retreatism
  • Rebellion

7 Reminders for Good Teaching
  • They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
  • Passion sells
  • It’s not about US. It’s about THEM
  • High expectations and the self-fulfilling property
  • Maximise time in the Learning Zone
  • Make it meaningful
  • Show students how much they need to learn
Live the reputation you want to have.
You should have been doing so already, but if not, the second best time is now.
Cores of Credibility (Covey 2008)

  • Integrity
  • Intent
  • Capability
  • Results 
 
Working on the Work (Schlechty)
  • Content and substance
  • Organisation of Knowledge
  • Product focus
  • Clear and compelling standards
  • Safe environment
  • Affirmation of Performance
  • Affiliation
  • Novelty and variety
  • Choice
  • Authenticity

 

Summary

I take away many new ideas, but mostly it was the resounding reminder that teaching is all about relationships. Engagement, trust, integrity matter. Passion matters.

At the end of the day we are teaching our students, not our subjects. The human element makes it messy, but it also makes it thrilling and rewarding. Don’t be afraid to expose your flaws and admit your mistakes. At the same time strive to improve, and demand the same from your students.

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Author: Rogan Tinsley

Biology, science and maths teacher with a PhD in Neuroscience and passion for education.

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