Category Archives: ideas

Links between classroom behaviour self-regulation, concepts of self, positive intent, and AtLs

There are as many ways to approach ‘classroom management’ as there are teachers. Fostering a good working relationship with your students is one of the most effective ways for them to learn from you, with you and with each other. Robert Marzano, in ‘Classroom Management that Works’, analysed 100 studies on classroom management and found that the quality of the teacher-student relationship was the most important factor in all aspects of classroom management. In 2009, John Hattie ranked strong teacher-student relationships with an average effect size of 0.4.
My view of classroom management corresponds with Karen Peel’s study below. Rather than saying “How well did I manage the students’ behaviour in the classroom?”, the focus should be on understanding  why students make proactive decisions about their behaviour and learning in the absence of external constraints. Creating strong relationships, designing clear and organised lessons which draw on common sense and effective teaching approaches like HITS and Rosenshine’s Principles and designing for students’ self-efficacy all help creating an effective classroom for learning.

What follows is a collection of readings and resources that I pulled together as we investigate  new behavioural frameworks at my school. Continue reading

Shutterstock/ AlexTanya

What would this look like if it were simple?

The notion of “complexity bias” seems to be around a lot in blogs, pinterest posts and Twitter, but I have not been able to find a lot of academic research into it. In fact, the only common definition seems to be this one: “Complexity bias is a logical fallacy that leads us to give undue credence to complex concepts.” It a ubiquitous definition, and could perhaps come from Farnham Street blog, but it probably doesn’t.

“Complexity bias” is such an engaging idea though because feels like it make sense. So while I have not found anything beyond blogs to back it up, I do think it is useful to me because it is something that I do in certain situations and contexts: I overthink things, I want everything I do to be amazing, well thought through, complete, wonderful and the best. But sometimes that stops me from just doing things quickly. Perfection is the enemy of good.

I made the little poster below in Adobe Spark, and I often look at it when I indulge myself again in the fog of complexity thinking. It was inspired the article: “The 1 Question That Helps Me Beat My Procrastination” , by Haley Goldberg.  The one question you ask yourself is: “What would this look like if it were simple/fun/easy?” Continue reading

Change & Complexity: Two Elephant Analogies

Changing behaviour >> Elephant Analogy 1: The Rider, the elephant, and the path

There’s nothing like a good analogy to explain things clearly. I found this analogy for change management in Dylan Wiliam’s book ” Leadership for Teacher Learning”. He summarises an analogy which was based on Plato’s ‘Chariot Analogy‘, which formed the basis Haidt’s (2005) analogy of the rider and the elephant, and was then added to by Heath and Heath (2010) in the book ‘Switch’. Wiliam summarises the analogy as follows: Continue reading

My notes on Collective Teacher Efficacy

This is an overview of my research and thinking around Collective Teacher Efficacy (CTE).

CTE refers to “the perceptions of teachers in a school that the faculty as a whole can execute the courses of  action necessary to have positive effects on students” a. It was identified by Professor John Hattie as having a very high effect size of 1.57 b. CTE is of interest to school leaders because it is an indicator of the willingness by teacher “to invest the time and  energy required to attain educational goals and results in greater effort.” CTE is a broad and systemic intervention which leads to “improved student outcomes” c. Jenni Donohoo identifies the following six enabling conditions for fostering collective teacher efficacy: Continue reading

  1. Goddard, R. (2001). Collective efficacy: A neglected construct in the study of schools and student
    achievement. Journal Of Educational Psychology, 93(3), 467-476.
    0663.93.3.467  (back)
  2. Hattie, J. (2016). Third Visible Learning Annual Conference: Mindframes and Maximizers,
    Washington, DC, July 11, 2016  (back)
  3. Donohoo, J., O’Leary, T., & Hattie, J. (2020). The design and validation of the enabling conditions for collective teacher efficacy scale (EC-CTES). Journal of Professional Capital And Community, 5(2), 147-166.  (back)

That uncertain feeling in the valley of despair: The joys of the research and writing process

Every teacher is a writer. We write texts of all lengths and in all styles. I find myself writing so much too, and in so many different contexts. As an Extended Essay supervisor (See my website here about the IB EE) I help students develop their research and academic writing craft. For quite a while now, I have explained the process to them with a graph which is based on my own feelings towards research and writing. Mind you, I love/hate it, but I will keep on doing it because the satisfaction, challenge and joy is greater than the hatred. I have finally committed this graph to the computer, rather than just whiteboards. So here it is: Continue reading

Tom Sherrington, Barack Rosenshine and ‘CPD’

Tom Sherrington (@teacherhead) is a good ‘education guru’. I like his straight talking and common sense approach, informed by a realistic approach to teaching and education research that really connects with what I think is important in education.

Since 2018, Tom has been focussing on Barack Rosenshine’s seminal “10 principles”. Here is all Tom’s writing on that:

He recently wrote this post about the PD needs of teachers (Teachers’ CPD needs are massive: it needs more time and more flexibility) which contained a great overview of what we are asking teachers to ‘develop’ in. I am copying the list here so that I remember to return to this, because that is the purpose of this blog for me, a personal and professional notebook about teaching and learning. So here is Tom’s list:

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Metacognition and Self-Regulation for students

This week, my colleague and I created a report based on feedback from our staff about Remote Learning 2.0. An important theme which came through in this feedback, was that students struggled with meta-cognition and being self-regulated learners. Evidence from the “Evidence for Learning” Teaching & Learning Toolkit suggests that the use of metacognition and self-regulation can lead to learning gains of +7 months over the course of a year, when used well. Nonetheless, it can seem an elusive topic. a Self-regulated learning includes the cognitive, behavioural, motivational, and emotional aspects of learning. By teaching our students specific strategies for planning, monitoring and evaluating their learning, we can increase their success, confidence and engagement, but how do we go about doing that? 

Continue reading

  1. Metacognition and self‑regulated learning | Evidence for Learning | (2020). Retrieved 23 September 2020, from  (back)

Appreciative Inquiry: Conversations worth having

Our new Head of Campus introduced me to ‘Appreciative Inquiry’. Here is an oft cited definition of what ‘AI’ is:  “At its heart, AI is about the search for the best in people, their organizations, and the strengths-filled, opportunity-rich world around them. AI is not so much a shift in the methods and models of organizational change, but AI is a fundamental shift in the overall perspective taken throughout the entire change process to ‘see’ the wholeness of the human system and to “inquire” into that system’s strengths, possibilities, and successes. ” a

Conversations worth having book cover

I read the book “Conversations Worth Having” b on Scribd. This is a subscription service, you pay $9 AUD a month and get fantastic access to books, documents and podcasts. I like reading non-fiction on Scribd because of the easy highlighting you can do with both Scribd and Diigo. I like Scribd better than Audible and Amazon.

What is ‘Appreciative Inquiry’?

AI can be the catalyst for organisational or behavioural change and can be used in all situations where humans interact. Stavros describes it as follows: “AI consists of the cooperative search for the best in people, their organizations, and the world  around them and that solving tough problems from that perspective results in creative solutions, which is life-giving for people.c The idea of Appreciative Inquiry resonates with me because I try to always take a strengths based approach in my dealings with people and the world, rather than a deficit approach. I try to see the best in people, situations and organisations. AI is all about looking at strengths, rather than weaknesses and deficits.  

Appreciate inquiry is so called because you ask questions about and investigate what is good. Your inquiry appreciates and builds on the good and the successful, rather than identifying and investigating what is negative and wrong. Continue reading

  1. Excerpt from: Stavros, Jacqueline, Godwin, Lindsey, & Cooperrider, David. (2015). Appreciative Inquiry: Organization Development and the Strengths Revolution. In Practicing Organization Development: A guide to leading change and transformation (4th Edition), William Rothwell, Roland Sullivan, and Jacqueline Stavros (Eds). Wiley, source  (back)
  2. Link to Conversations Worth Having on Scribd: .   (back)
  3. From Conversations Worth Having, Using Appreciative Inquiry to Fuel Productive and Meaningful, Engagement, Jackie Stavros and Cheri Torres. Page unknown because I took notes in Scribd via Diigo, which didn’t include page numbers, further citations will just be “Conversations worth having”  (back)

Changing the “Grammar of Schooling”

I watched a seminar today, by Melbourne Uni MGSE: Professor Yong Zhao on “Education leaders must reconsider the way we teach and learn”. He challenged us to think about different possibilities in education in response to Covid.

Here is the article Zhao wrote on that: I made some highlights and comments in Kami, you can add your own if you are so inclined.

It raises some interesting questions about the lessons we have learnt from lockdown, particularly when it comes to flexibility and trust.

Abstract (TL:DR) is below. Abstract: Speak a Different Language: Reimagine the Grammar of Schooling, by Yong Zhao

Continue reading

Quality Teaching Rounds: Talking about great teaching

Quality Teaching Rounds, developed by Jenny Gore and Julie Bowe, involves teachers working in professional learning communities (PLCs) of four or more to observe and analyse each other’s teaching (Bowe & Gore, 2017) a. The QTR is a protocol using a set of “good teaching practice” criteria with which a lesson is “coded” and then discussed by a group of three or four teachers. The three dimensions and 18 elements are grouped in three domains of good pedagogy: Intellectual Quality, Quality Learning Environment and Significance.

How it works:

A group of four teachers (three could work, but four is optimal) observe a lesson by one of the group. The three observers “code” the lesson using the Quality Teaching criteria. After the lesson, the group of four get together and discuss the lesson. The discussion is not an appraisal of the teacher; it is about discussing the elements of good teaching.

Below are my notes of an excellent two day PD I was lucky enough to attend b, guided by Professor Jenny Gore. She was insightful, interesting and showed us how the QTR model is one of the few ways in which teachers can have safe and constructive discussions based on lesson observations.

I have blogged about Jenny Gore’s QTR before, but at that time, I didn’t fully get how useful and great this protocol actually is. Now I do, and I can’t wait to start working with it at my school. Here is the blog post from June 2016.
Continue reading

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  2. On the 25th and 26th of February 2020, at Lauriston Girls’ School  (back)

Effective Mentoring, VIT

I attended a VIT refresher course on Thursday the 5th of March 2020, led by Catharine Hydon and Matt Woodley from the VIT. My main take-away was how important it is to have a clearly defined induction and mentorship program with well trained and committed mentors. At my school, we have a lot of good people and great intentions, but we have some way to go towards properly formalising our processes.

What is mentoring?

  • Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximise their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be. (Eric Parsloe, The Oxford School of Coaching & Mentoring)
  • As a process, mentoring may be generally described as a dynamic interpersonal relationship involving two or more people. Mentoring in early childhood is often perceived as “a peer relationship” (Nolan, 2007, xvii), where a more experienced practitioner provides professional guidance to one or more novice practitioners, either on a 1:1 basis or as a group. (Wong and Waniganayake 2013) 
  • Need to have a written down protocol or policy to support VIT teachers.

What mentoring isn’t

  • Performance management
  • Training
  • Peer friendship and support
  • Counselling
  • Rescuing

What good mentors do?

The good mentor is:

  • committed to the role of mentoring.
  • accepting of the beginning teacher.
  • skilled at providing instructional support.
  • effective in different interpersonal contexts.
  • a model of a continuous learner.
  • The good mentor communicates hope and optimism. a
  • My notes here

Continue reading

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Pareto Principle; work smarter not harder

I had heard of the 20/80 rule, but had never really looked into it deeply. It’s such a great strategy for teachers in many ways. Basically: “Find out what is vital, ignore what is trivial, and you can maximize results.” a  When making a to do list (which I do often), identify the top 20% and focus on finishing those off first. Here is a distillation of my reading and understanding (all links provided) : Continue reading

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