All learners, young and old

“Into the night” by TimOve via Flickr

If you have been across twitter or educational TedTalks, you are likely to have watched Rita Pierson’s “Every kid needs a champion”. When working with third and final year education students, it was always a video I shared to get them to think about seeing the most challenging students in a different light.

At my school, we have recently overhauled our whole school surveys in an attempt to gather specific data that will inform us as to whether we are having an impact on the areas we are aspiring to develop. Previously we have used an external organisation where we had no influence over the questions being asked, or how the data was presented. Whilst the previous survey provided comparisons to other schools, we are at the point where we are not “like” many other schools, and direct comparisons, do not really provide us with adequate measures. But I digress.

When developing our purpose fit surveys, we deliberated over the specific areas that we would elicit responses from our students, however, one question that was in no doubt was inspired by work we have been doing with spirals of inquiry. Integral within the spiral of inquiry is asking four questions of learners.

  1. Can you name two people in this setting who believe you will be a success in life?
  2. What are you learning and why is it important?
  3. How is it going with your learning?
  4. What are your next steps?

The first question aligns directly with the idea that every child needs a champion. In our survey, we ask our students to choose to either ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’ to the following statement: “I can name 2 teachers in this school who believe I can be successful in life”.

This morning, I read a post by George Couros where he refers to the Rita Pierson video as one of his favourites and where he asks us to think about our staff in the same light. A very valid point. 

Over the past few weeks when meeting with leaders that I work closely with, I have asked them to identify different people in their professional lives who play different roles, one of which acts as a cheerleader. I agree with George that having people who believe in you, helps to believe in yourself. It also made me think, that whilst I am asking the leaders I work closely with, how might we identify whether all our staff have a champion/cheerleader? We should argue that it is just as important in their learning and growth as it is for our younger learners.

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