Tag Archives: motivation

Mathematical Mindsets – course responses. Unit 1.⤴

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Why are schools keen to label children as smart or gifted?

 

My intiial reaction is that I have no idea. Maybe using gifted allows SMT to ask class teachers what their plan is for ‘stretching’ some children. I feel this is used as a counter balance to the question of what teachers do to support less able children in lessons. This differentiation battle has been ongoing for a while and is not in line with the AiFL which I have studied when reading the Shirley Clarke books.

 

So what is a belief message you can give to students when you’re talking to them about their work?

 

You have to give them the belief that they will get there eventually. I remind them that I have failed at many things but I have always managed to get the hand of something if it mattered enough to me. I also discuss with the class why I am asking them questions – not because I don’t know the answer, but because I want to know if a certain person knows an answer but more importantly how that person works something out.

 

The evidence that those with a “growth” mindset have more brain activity than those with a fixed mindset is pretty amazing – and important. What does it make you think about? Is there something you may do or say differently because of this evidence?

 

It reminds me that as well as telling my class that we learn stuff which is hard, because it grows our brains, I must remind them that they will find it hard and that they will get there in the end.

 

How can you help parents with math anxiety?

 

I think several approaches/actions are required here leading to an understanding of why they are anxious.

 

Firstly you can share links to video clips, reading matters, research, courses etc showing how growth mindset works and how this links into mathematical understanding.

 

Secondly you need to remind them of that time in maths that they felt terrible because they couldn’t answer a question in a certain time limit. Ask them how that shaped their feelings towards maths as a subject. Discuss with them the way maths is taught at university where depth and understanding matter more than time limits.

 

Share with them some of the rich learning tasks from youcubed and ask them what they think someone is learning when the are working on these tasks. During this model maths talk with them too and explain how this cements learning.

 

Discuss my own feelings towards maths and how they changed when someone took the time to explain how maths worked to me in a way in which I could understand it.

 

From all of this, ask them how well they feel maths was taught to them. If they feel the teaching they received was not the best, this can be linked to their anxiety. It’s not their fault, a lot of it is the way things were in the past in maths teaching.

 

What were the main ideas you heard from the interview with Carol Dweck that you think can be helpful in your teaching or interactions with students?

 

Growth mindset is telling the children that they can develop abilities.

Struggle is good but needs some support.

Be ‘casual’ about mistakes whilst offering to help the student get it right and scaffolding their answers.

Some people are unclear what a fixed and growth mindset are.

 

What are you most excited to learn from this course?

 

New ideas for use in class.

How I can support children who struggle the most with their maths.

Things to say to other teachers, SMT and observers in my classroom when they question what I am doing and why I don’t have maths groups.

 

What ideas do you think were most helpful for the students in the video? What impacted them most?

 

The idea that getting things wrong in maths is OK and that finishing first does not mean the best. Also, the idea that only struggling through maths develops the brain. Immediate recall and pages of correct does not grow the brain.

Gifted??⤴

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One of the questions in my Mathematical Mindsets MOOC was about gifted children and our labelling of people as gifted.

Since the mid 00’s there has been a requirement to highlight ‘gifted and talented’ children in classes in the schools I have taught in England and Scotland, but on reflection, this flies in the face of a ‘growth mindset’ approach to education.

Here is how I answered the question What do you think the “gifted” label does to young children and their teachers?

If we start by thinking of a gift, we might think of something which is given to us without our needing to do anything to recieve it. i.e. You get your birthday gift, but we didn’t really contribute a lot to being born…

To a child who believes themselves to be gifted, this might mean that they feel they don’t have to work hard, as they have been given something extra which others don’t have. It might mean that when they come across something they can’t do they feel they ‘don’t have the gift’ in this so it’s not worth trying.

Children hearing others described as having a gift are likely to see that child’s work in a subject as unrelated to effort. Therefore there is no point in that child trying that little bit harder, as they are not gifted. However hard they try, they are not going to get to be good enough.

Teachers who believe in, or label children as gifted (as well as discouraging many children) may not see the point in putting efforts in to certain groups or children. I remember my Y3 team leader in my first year of teaching explaining that if I hadn’t given children the chance to do something, then they certainly would not be able to do it. They may also be inclined to put children into groupings for subjects from which they can never escape, as they are never given the opportunity to do the same work as ‘the other group’.

Mathematical Mindsets – Jo Boaler.⤴

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I am working on (and shall be over the summer holidays) an online MOOC – Mathematical Mindsets, run by Jo Boaler.

If you haven’t come across Jo before, find her on the Twitter, google her or read her books. I love her methods for maths and the way she links them with growth mindsets.

I intend publishing some of my work here.

In my first piece, Jo shared three pieces of research onto brain growth with us and asked us to share our feelings about how this should impact schools.

 

Taxi Driver Evidence.

“You may have seen me show the evidence from London black cab drivers who have to undergo complex spatial training, at the end of which, they have a significantly larger hippocampus in the brain. At the end of being taxi drivers, when they retire, the hippocampus shrinks back down again.”

 

Taxi driver response:

This research shows that a brain that is being used develops and grows and that when the brain is not being used it regresses to its initial state. So in school I guess this means that we need to keep children thinking about their maths. The children who probably end up thinking about their maths are the mid-ability ones upwards who, if we are not careful are fed a diet of ‘more of the same with bigger numbers’. These are the children who are ‘high fliers’ who then plateau in their maths learning.

We need to use real-life challenging problems and investigations and games with all learners to ensure brains keep growing.

 

 

Half-Brain Case-study. “You may also have seen me show the girl who had half her brain removed. The doctors expected her to be paralyzed for many years or even for her whole life, but she shocked them by regrowing the connections she needed in a really

short space of time.”

 

Half-Brain response:

This research shows that the brain is a wonderful thing which scientists are still understanding…slowly in some cases.

In school we need to encourage our children to make connections within their brains to ensure that they keep developing. Brains don’t get full! We need to share this learning about re-wiring of brains with the children so they come to associate hard learning with something like a gym visit or fitness training – a development; and improver.

 

Stanford Case Study: “They brought 7 to 9-year-old children into the labs at Stanford, and half of them had been diagnosed as having mathematics learning disabilities, and half of them hadn’t. And they had these children work on maths under brain scans.

And lo and behold, they found actual brain differences. And the children diagnosed with learning disabilities actually

had more brain activity than the other children, more areas of their brain were lighting up when they worked on maths.”

 

Stanford response: Initially, this research seems to show that pupils who are thought have learning disabilities are working harder to keep up with (and by definition be not as good at maths as) their peers. Their brains are working harder, which means they will feel more tired during a maths lesson, be more stressed and require more breaks. We need to think in schools how we treat these children who are working harder, and it’s certainly not good enough to say X is not good at maths. It also suggests that schools need to find time to work closely with our ‘poorer maths attainers’ to get an understanding of where there learning is and to give them strategies to learn and develop their maths. – In an ideal world this can be done through group work and talk partners also.

Highers? The best we can do?⤴

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It’s Easter Monday, (Bank holiday in the UK) and it’s 8:47 PM. My step-daughter is holed up in her room. Listening to music? Watching YouTube vloggers? Reading? Watching Games of Thrones via illegal feed? None of the above. She’s studying. This time for English Higher. Saturday it was for Art, Friday for RMPS.  Wednesday night she was up until 2:45 AM working on her Graphic Communication project which was due in. (She was up against a wholly unrealistic time scale, as the previous teacher ‘misunderstood’ what was required for the exam. I wonder if they were up at 2:45 and then ready for school next morning??) To be fair to her she didn’t start work until 10:00 PM on the Wednesday night.

 

Would you like to guess why she began work so late? She was organising a music concert at her school along with other S5’s. This wasn’t part of her course: It was over and above. It was her and her friends taking a leading role in school life. The Curriculum for Excellence says this is a thing to aspire to for schools and pupils, yet due to some inadequate work from a teacher, her reward for this was working until 2:45 AM.

 

Well at least it’s the holiday now. Except it’s not quite the holidays, as my step-daughter is attending revision classes in the school on different days of the holiday. These are being provided by teachers who are clearly committed to their pupils getting the best grades they can in their exams, so committed in fact that they are ignoring national guidelines on holidays for pupils and teachers to deliver them.

 

Perhaps she’s having to cram as she’s not done enough work previously? Maybe she slacks off and works hard in the ‘exam season’. I can tell you she’s not angelic. She leaves the toilet lid up, doesn’t wash her food pots and has even been known not to replace the butter in the butter in the butter dish! She does work very hard at her studies however, pushes herself hard, as well as trying to develop other areas of her life (like attending animation classes, organising concerts for the school, volunteering in a hospice shop when she can).

 

Our ‘new’ Curriculum for Excellence (published in 2004) has strong ideals and ethics in it. It aims to create “successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors.” I’m not sure how these fit with holiday revision classes, weekends where homework is all that gets done in a household, time taken off school to complete ‘vital’ homework tasks. To my mind they don’t. The conditions of work my step-daughter is working to are likely to turn our young people away from education for a lengthy period of time. I dare not think too long about the effects this amount of work and pressure has on her (and her many friends) mental health. This was not the aim of the 2002 consultation paper on education, yet this is where we are.

 

Charlie Love wrote a great blog post about National 4 exams and the effect that working Nat 4 courses had on pupils, it’s well worth a read. It is not just Highers, it’s the National 4 and 5 exams which don’t appear to be working also.

A quick google for problems with Highers brings up a few news reports but nothing too recent. It seems that the political will to create a system where our young succeed and lead balanced, healthy lives is not there. When I did my ‘A’ levels (in England), I (like everyone else) took two years of study to pass them. It was a wonderful time of my life, some hard work, some enjoyment of a different side of school life, even some maturing! The key was the time afforded to work, think and develop inside the school week. I had at least one 1hr 15 period of study time each day. Sometimes more. My step-daughter gets nothing, it’s wall to wall teaching.. Yet, apparently this amount of teaching time isn’t enough, she still has to work so much ‘extra’ time in the evenings and holidays.

 

I’d be delighted to hear from Angela Constance and Iain Gray about pupils being overworked in order to pass National Exams. I’d also be interested to hear of anyone else’s experiences. Please tweet me @robertd1981 or e-mail me at robertdrummond@gmail.com if you wish to contact me, but not leave a public comment.

 

This isn’t progress. This isn’t creating an education system better than the oft-mocked English system I described earlier. This isn’t good enough.

 

What is leadership without management?⤴

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This post forms part of my learning journal for the West Lothian Leadership Programme.

 

To begin to answer this perhaps it is first necessary to think about and try to define leadership and management.

My initial feelings would be that leadership is the Jed Bartlet, Nasser Hussain figure. The person who has vision, inspires people to follow that vision, ensures that the people they have working for them share that vision and work towards it.

Management often feels less positive to me. If something needs managing that for me has a connotation of a problem which needs to held in abeyance almost. It is the person who maybe stifles some of the vision of the leader in the cause of ‘a higher figure’. I’m thinking Tim Lamb trying to manage the Zimbabwe situation with Nasser Hussain in the 2003 world cup – not something conducive to progression .

 

As you can see I’m not exactly starting off with equally positive views of leadership and management.

 

My next part of the task was to read up on leadership and management. In these days of the internet information is but a click away, however finding information you trust and respect is not so easy. For my reading I chose an article from The Guardian, which then linked through to the Harvard Business Review and a blog post on Lifehacker.

John Kotter, a professor at Harvard Business School feels that

“Management is a set of processes that keep an organisation functioning. They make it work today – they make it hit this quarter’s numbers. The processes are about planning, budgeting, staffing, clarifying jobs, measuring performance, and problem-solving when results did not go to plan.”

Clearly that is a more positive definition than mine, and reading it made me realise that management is necessary to get the jobs done, otherwise the vision of the leader will not be realised.

Johnathan Gosling, from the University of Exeter gives an example of a management technique,

“Target setting is a management technique used to focus attention on certain activities. A hospital, for example, might set targets around waiting times.”

For this exercise to work, someone within the hospital must show leadership by emphasising the importance of the activity.

“In this example, the wider purpose is helping patients to lead better lives. A leader needs to inspire employees by showing how meeting a target can contribute towards this aim. They also need to think of new ways of reaching that target.”

Again, that challenges my ideas around management. In this example management leads directly to the positive outcome which the leader wants (i.e. less waiting time in hopsitals). Gosling says that someone needs to show the leadership by emphasising the importance of the target setting. Does that suggests that the leadership did not create the target setting activity? i.e. they have to show someone else’s visions?

I also read what Kotter has to say about leadership.

It (leadership) is associated with taking an organization into the future, finding opportunities that are coming at it faster and faster and successfully exploiting those opportunities. Leadership is about vision, about people buying in, about empowerment and, most of all, about producing useful change. Leadership is not about attributes, it’s about behavior. And in an ever-faster-moving world, leadership is increasingly needed from more and more people, no matter where they are in a hierarchy. The notion that a few extraordinary people at the top can provide all the leadership needed today is ridiculous, and it’s a recipe for failure.

I think that is something which sits easily with my initial feelings around leadership. Bartlet and Hussain were people who changed things (ok one was fictional!!) for the better. My view of the captains who succeeded Hussain is that they were not the quality of leader Hussain was, although they were more successful.

Kotter talks about leadership from any place in the hierarchy, it would be interesting to go back in time and look at the role successful leaders played prior to them gaining the higher space in the hierarchy, and also how any leadership they showed was treated by their actual leaders and managers.

The question asks what is leadership without manage. It seems to me that management should be the mechanisms, which ensure delivery of the vision of the leader. In turn, the leader needs to share the vision, enthuse and inspire with the vision.

Therefore, I think leadership without management is a vision, a passion, a pathway, but with no means of delivering it – people may agree completely with it but without management (even self-management). The vision will remain unfulfilled as the actual changes required will never take place.

 

Sources:

http://careers.theguardian.com/difference-between-leadership-management

http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/01/management-is-still-not-leadership/

http://lifehacker.com/search?q=leadership

http://lifehacker.com/search?q=management

 

 

My Journey to the Scottish Digital Leaders Network.⤴

from @ Robert DrummondRobert Drummond »

On Wednesday 25th September, I presented at the SLF teachmeet on the topic of the Scottish Digital Leaders Network. Here is that presentation   2 years ago I taught ICT across the school as RCCT cover…it nearly killed me. Not the ICT bit, I loved it for enabling children to do fantastic creative work, and […]

Guy Claxton – 5 things to try.⤴

from @ Robert DrummondRobert Drummond »

I was able to attend a talk by Prof Guy Claxton yesterday. Despite the room being way too warm and forgetting to take my bottle of water, it was a really thought provoking talk and left me with some things I want to try in school on Monday (and beyond) and certainly made me want […]

New Skills, New Questions.⤴

from @ Robert DrummondRobert Drummond »

I read this article and it got me thinking about school, learning, young people today etc. The article discusses how skills are learned, how creating neural pathways link and create stronger pathways and how a good way to develop these skills is by not using help guides, asking other people etc but puzzling it out […]

5 Words to describe my class.⤴

from @ Robert DrummondRobert Drummond »

If you had to choose five words to describe your class, what would they be? -Dave Burgess I found this idea and quotation here and thought it was a fantastic idea for teachers, but also a great idea to start the new school year off with a new class. Messy. Interactive. Inquisitive. Energetic, Happy. I […]

Badger, badger, badger, badger.⤴

from @ Robert DrummondRobert Drummond »

There’s a lot of work going on at the moment about using badges for crediting skills, experience in education and the workplace. I came across this template for designing your own badges and shared it last night in the #dlchat. People in the chat seemed to like it, so I thought it might be worth […]