Welcome back to Flipping the Focus.
Leading up to the Mid-Atlantic Conference for Professional Learning, March 13-15, in Atlantic City, this marks the second in a series of posts devoted to pedagogical practices and frameworks that educators can leverage in their collaborative efforts to respectfully and equitably honour student voice.
Envision learning environments where students and their teachers are engaged to interact in profound and meaningful ways. What if those ways led to empowering students to becoming leaders of their own learning--becoming, over time, better able to contribute to their communities?
Having consulted with several educators, exploring Global Competencies in their own practices, it is clear that the leadership imparted to students is transforming both teaching and learning.
in their own practices, it is clear that the leadership imparted to students is
transforming both teaching and learning."
- (Teacher-focus) To deepen my understanding of practices that engage students with differences in backgrounds, learning strengths, needs and interests.
- (Leadership-focus) To inform next best moves to supporting the growth of individual and collective teacher learning and practice.
2. The Ontario Context: Growing Success
Ontario educators are continuously working alongside their students to helping them develop Learning Skills. These skills, based on research, are integral to helping them become effective learners and to succeed in both school and in life (Growing Success, 2010).
These skills include Responsibility, Organization, Independent Work, Collaboration, Initiative and Self-Regulation. Growing Success also provides several descriptors of sample behaviours that teachers can use when discussing the Learning Skills with their students and assessing their development of these skills.
To better understand the current context for skills that underpin successful, future-oriented learning--learning that provides opportunities for student-centred leadership and developing citizenship, we need to consider Equity.
Understanding that there are many considerations to addressing inequity in Education, of profound significance and hope, is captured by what Michael Fullan calls the Equity Hypothesis (in Thiers, 2017).
The hypothesis, essentially, is this: students who see themselves (and their learning) in the world--connected to the world; that is, relevant, meaningful and applicable learning (Sheninger, 2017 )--learn more deeply and are, themselves, transformed along with the people they have served. In fact, Fullan explains through his own examples, that students most disaffected by a more traditional form of learning are quickest to adopt and move the furthest when we frame learning through globalized competencies (in Thiers, 2017).
To make better connections to the world, a different set of skills are required for success: these are called Transferable Skills.
These skills include: Critical Thinking, Innovation & Creativity, Self-Directed Learning, Collaboration, Communication and Citizenship (Fig 1 and Fig 2, below).
Upon closer examination, these might be considered ‘meta’ skills: the previously-mentioned Learning Skills can be mapped under the Transferable Skills. Take, for instance, Critical Thinking. From the Learning Skills, Organization, Collaboration and Self-Regulation could all play key roles in students developing and enacting Critical Thinking. Similar connections can be made between the remaining Learning Skills and Transferable Skills.
Again, it’s important to make this distinction: Global Competencies connect students to the real-world. And it is through these connections that students will experience greater success.
Up to this point in time, you might be wondering: This is great, but what kinds of learning experiences are going to help the students in my school build the success that comes through identifying and recognizing these skills?
In a recent interview with Rola Tibshirani (@rolat, All Saints HS, Ottawa Catholic School Board), I had the privilege of asking a number of questions about Global Competencies and her pedagogical practice. I am excited to be able to share Rola's perspectives in this space with readers.
Question 1: What is learning like for students who are beginning to work with developing and expressing Global Competencies?
Generally, students are not as inclined to taking risks with their learning.
- Our discussions usually point to how they've participated in their education up this point--i.e., they have not had enough leadership roles to understand that they can have both agency and autonomy.
- Over time, we co-construct criteria for learning and negotiate 'grades'--all of this based on feedback.
- When students continuously focus on the 6C's, they are much better positioned to developing better self-regulation skills.
Our engagement with the 6C's connects students to the real-world...learning through real-world experiences.
- For my students and I, Global Competencies make sense. They are more realistic.
- When it does come time to be reporting out, students' reflections--reflections based on the 6C's--form the basis of their comments.
- This is a bit of a 'yes/no' experience for me.
- For me, it comes down to getting to know your learners and planning with them to being successful. For example, students are challenged, from the outset of our time together, to be thinking about the 6C's.
- Often times, they're engaging these competencies through complex and/or controversial issues...topics that have meaning for students and can connect them to others beyond the classroom.
- Successful implementation requires that teachers are unpacking the 6C's with their students--usually exploring one dimension at a time.
- Creating tasks that focus on the 6C's, highlighting through consolidation, and providing feedback on their progression are key factors for educators to consider.
- With respect to consolidation and feedback, it's important that students are provided time to think independently (for building autonomy) and before sharing with others. The sharing is also an opportunity where students have a chance to integrate their thinking and that of others.
- I've found it quite helpful for educators to study and plan with a team of teachers within and/or between schools.
- As a starting point, your team might choose to work on an inquiry related to collaboration.
- From a team-based perspective, co-planning, co-teaching and unpacking shared, teaching experiences are important to the success of your inquiry.
- It's important to remember a key aspect...source of assessment: teachers need to anchor into students’ reflections
- And the first step is for students to provide one another descriptive feedback. Assessment AS learning is key.
- Formatively, teachers are observing...documenting and helping to plan and facilitate conversations about the global competencies that students will be working with.
recognizing these skills?'”
Flat out, let’s recognize that there isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’. In fact, and as you may have experienced (or are experiencing), this is exceedingly tough work, but it is and can be the most gratifying work and experience you and your school can have.
Systematically, you will need to collaborate with your leadership and fellow educators through cycles of inquiry, where you are simultaneously seeking out and honoring students’ voices. Based on the needs you identify, you might explore a confluence of factors--technology, pedagogical practices, connections to community, and learning spaces within your school and beyond the traditional classroom.
As an assurance, over time, it will get easier because you will be establishing a culture of learning that embraces these types of skills. And you’ll have the excellence as a marker of your school’s success--in achievement, well-being, and overall...student feedback that speaks of empowerment to being leaders of their own learning.
As you reflect, how are you seeking to co-create conditions that can give life to equity in the teaching and learning you do with students and your colleagues each and every day?
How are you incorporating Global Competencies into your pedagogical practice?
In closing, I can't help but to think of the conversations that can be inspired when we take collective action to improving student learning. As this blog is a means for readers to network and gradually change the context for how they teach and learn, we all benefit by drawing nearer to the perspectives shared here and shared beyond with our professional learning networks.
I am more than happy to collaborate with you and make our learning visible, here, in this blog and across Flipping the Focus' social media platforms, as well as your own. If at any time, you have questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to me at Flipping the Focus.
Education Leader, Flipping the Focus (c) 2019
Fullan, M., & Langworthy, M. (2013, June). The New Pedagogy: Students and Teachers as Learning Partners. Retrieved from https://michaelfullan.ca/articles/
Global Competencies: An Interview with Rola Tibshirani [Online interview]. (2019, January 21).
Government of Ontario. (2016). EduGAINS: About Innovation in Learning in Ontario. Retrieved from http://www.edugains.ca/newsite/21stCenturyLearning/about_learning_in_ontario.html
Government of Ontario. (2017, October). Ensuring Equity in Ontario's Education System. Retrieved from http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/about/action_plan.html
Growing Success: Assessment, Evaluation and Reporting in Ontario’s Schools. (2010). Toronto: Ministry of Education.
People for Education. (2017, September 9). Competencies and transferable skills part of Ontario's move to modernize the school system. Retrieved from https://peopleforeducation.ca/research/competencies-and-transferable-skills/
Sheninger, E. C., & Murray, T. C. (2017). Learning Transformed: 8 Keys to Designing Tomorrow’s Schools, Today. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Thiers, N. (2017). Making Progress Possible: A Conversation with Michael Fullan. Educational Leadership, 74(9), 8-14.