Important Enough to Back Track: Adult Communication that Impacts Student Success in Schoo

This Series began on January 9, 2017 with the following:

January 9, 2017   Adult Communication that Impacts Student Success in School

Up to this time, this blog has focused on language development and use by children.  The idea was to focus on the ways in which children do and can develop the language skills that help them to be successful learners.  There is a wealth of information “out there” as well an on this blog about ways to do this.

It is time for a new focus: the communication of adults that impacts children’s success in school and beyond.  Teachers and parents talk about children and their success or lack of success in school, administrators and teachers talk about children, special educators and teachers talk about children.  Support staff members and “outside” experts “communicate” about children and their success or lack of success in school.  What do we know about how these “stakeholders” (is that the correct term?) talk to each/one another about children’s success in school?  How much of their conversations address the reasons for children’s success or lack of success and what each adult does/can do to ensure that success.

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Time to look at these communication (dialogue?) topics and issues in more detail.  So, starting with the first posting in that sequence:

http://www.latimes.com/local/education/community/la-me-edu-how-to-actually-get-something-out-of-parent-teacher-conferences-20151023-story.html

The above mentioned article opens in the following way:

It’s that time of year. Kids have been in school for a while, and now you get about 15 minutes with their teacher to talk about … what, exactly?

Parent-teacher conferences can be confusing. They’re rushed, with parents lingering to ask questions and more hovering at the door.

But education researchers say parental involvement and communication with teachers is an important element of student success. We talked to experts to find out why parent-teacher conferences are important and how parents can make the most of their time. These experts are listed at the end of the story.” 

THE ARTICLE GOES ON TO LIST QS AND PREPARATION:

Parent Questions:

Should I go only if my child is having problems?

NO, but you should definitely go if your child is not making the kind of progress you expect or hope for. (My comment)

How do I prepare?  They respond:

“Talk to your child. These conferences are short — they tend to be 10 to 20 minutes long at most, so it’s good to go in knowing what you want to glean from them. There are a few questions parents can ask their children to prepare beyond “How’s class?” and “How’s your teacher?”. 

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Equally important are the teacher’s preparation and role before, during, and after the conference.

Below are some things  you (administrators, teachers, and parents) can talk about, and groups like the Harvard Family Research Project and a school district in Washington have even published preparation tip sheets:….” 

This is an 8 page document published by Harvard with advice for principals, teachers, and parents.  Pay particular attention to page 5 and on  for teachers and then the following page for Parent

Here are some of the tips that come from the Harvard group for Teachers:

Before the conference:  (Note these are all direct quotes for sections of each item.)

Review student work. Be prepared to go over student data, assignments, and assessments during the conferences. Think of what more you would like to learn about your students from their parents.

􀂾 Prepare thoughts and materials. Create an agenda or list of key issues you want to discuss about each student’s progress and growth. Also consider creating a portfolio of student work to walk through with families during the conferences.

 During the Conference

Discuss progress and growth.

􀂾 Use examples

􀂾 Ask questions and listen actively

􀂾 Share ideas for supporting learning

􀂾 Seek solutions collaboratively. How “we” can work together to resolve any problems.

􀂾 Make an action will check in with one another about progress.

 After the conference

􀂾 Establish lines of communication.

􀂾 Follow up with families. If practical, contact parents (either by phone or in a note) who attended the conference and thank them for doing so. Ask if they have further questions or concerns and send home materials that can help them support learning at home. Contact parents who did not attend, as well, and offer alternative ways to communicate about their child.

􀂾 Communicate regularly.

􀂾 Connect in-class activities.

AND THEN THE ARTICLE OFFERS HARVARD’S ADVICE FOR PARENTS:

Advice for the Parent’s Role

What should you expect?

􀂾 A two-way conversation.

􀂾 Emphasis on learning

􀂾 Opportunities and challenges.

.What should you talk to the teacher about?

􀂾 Progress. Find out how your child is doing by asking questions like: Is my child performing at grade level?

􀂾 Assignments and assessments. Ask to see examples of your child’s work.

􀂾 Your thoughts about your child. Be sure to share your thoughts and feelings about your child.

􀂾 Support learning at home. Ask what you can do at home to help your child learn.

􀂾 Support learning at school. Find out what services are available at the school to help your child

 How should you follow up?

􀂾 Make a plan.

􀂾 Schedule another time to talk.

􀂾 Talk to your child. …Share with your child what you learned…

 For more resources on family involvement, visit www.hfrp.org

 

Lastly, the article offers this guiding acronym:

 “BE HEARD ”Keep these principles in mind fora great parent–teacher conference:

Best intentions assumed

Emphasis on learning

Home–school collaboration

Examples and evidence

Active listening

Respect for all

Dedication to follow-up

The article continues on to offer a “different guide” on Parent-Teacher Conferences

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Feedback and Student Voices

 
A 4 minute video!

How Students Critiquing One Another’s Work Raises The Quality Bar from D. Bassett’s blog spot:  

http://dbassett.blogspot.com/2017/03/here-is-great-article-on-learning-to.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ReflectionsOnMeta-cognition-ForEducatorsByEducators+%28Reflections+on+Meta-cognition+-+For+Educators+by+Educators%29

 
Too often, when students produce schoolwork, they turn it into a teacher for a grade and move on. And after the teacher spends time evaluating the student’s work, many students never look at the feedback, a cycle that frustrates both parties and isn’t the most effective way to learn.

Student to student feedback video via sMindShift

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8FKJPpvreY  4 minutes

Teacher-Student Dialogue

Empower Students to Be ‘Captains of Communication’ From Ed Week

By Starr Sackstein on February 12, 2017 6:31 AM Guest post by Brian Klaft

http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/work_in_progress/2017/02/captains_of_communication.html?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=workinprogress

Short excerpt:

When groups are constructed around strong student communicators, student engagement increased. My class now has the ability to work bell to bell, to the point that my students often lose track of time due to their engagement. I have heard “time flew today” on more than one occasion. Time flies when learning is deep. Increased engagement was not the only benefit of having table captains.”

A good communicator has a way of making a group safe to engage in, which leads to more academic risk taking, which leads to deeper questioning and understanding of science phenomena. Questioning and understanding phenomena is the goal and communication is the key.”

My students have a safe zone through which they can take part in class in a more active way. They are not just going deeper due to NGSS [Next Generation Science Standards] and its three dimensions, but also do to the safe dynamic of the group. Having a class designed on safety of communication has also resulted in fewer students on the periphery that only engage under teacher supervision.”

 

Teacher to Teacher Dialogue

Jim Knight’s approach to coaching.  Well worth exploring.

“This collection of our free and most popular resources include teaching tools and forms. They are designed to assist in the development and understanding of coaches, teachers, and administrators.”

http://www.instructionalcoaching.com/resources/

“A partnership approach to dramatically improving instruction.

  1. What complicates the task of helping adults? 2. What are the partnership principles and should I ground my coaching in them? 3. What is the instructional coaching improvement cycle? How do I do it? Should I do it?

Equality

Choice

Voice

Dialogue

Reflection

Praxis

Reciprocity

 

Being Open to Learning is Harder Than It Appears

There is a volume of information about carrying on meaningful conversations, especially about change. In the last posting I mentioned Grice’s Maxims which specify 4 qualities of conversation (from:

https://www.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/dravling/grice.html )

  1. The maxim of quantity, where one tries to be as informative as one possibly can, and gives as much information as is needed, and no more.
  2. The maxim of quality, where one tries to be truthful, and does not give information that is false or that is not supported by evidence.
  3. The maxim of relation, where one tries to be relevant, and says things that are pertinent to the discussion.
  4. The maxim of manner, when one tries to be as clear, as brief, and as orderly as one can in what one says, and where one avoids obscurity and ambiguity

This appears to be fairly straightforward but, in my experience, not a simple task.

Looking at the work of Robinson, I think we get a more realistic orientation to the challenges of conversations that are open to learning, conversations in making changes.

Here is a quote from the author (Viviane M. J. Robinson) University of Auckland cautioning us that “Open to learning” conversations are not easy, even when an administrator is talking with a teacher:

The Key Components of an Open-to-learning Conversation. There are no rules or step-by-step guides to open-to-learning conversations. This is because the shifts from less open to more open-to-learning conversations are as much about changes in values and ways of thinking as they are about changes in communication skills. Hard and fast rules also do not work because good conversations are responsive to context and to the other person. Despite this, it is possible to identify some of the recurring components of open-to-learning conversations. Table 3 identifies some of these components and shows how a leader might use them in conversations about the quality of teaching.”….

Nevertheless, she lists 7 components (starting points?):

  1. Describe your concern as your point of view. I need to tell you about a possible concern I have about.. I think we may have different views… I realise this may not be how you see it….
  2. Describe what your concern is based on. The reason why I was concerned is..
  3. Invite the other’s point of view. Pause and look at the other person or say.. What do you think?
  4. Paraphrase their point of view and check. I got three important messages from that…Am I on the right track?
  5. Detect and check important assumptions… What leads you to believe that the children…
  6. Establish common ground. The common ground might be based…
  7. Make a plan to get what you both want. How would you like to learn more about….

There are several YouTube videos that provide examples.  For example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pV5KmINdTWY

 

 

Focus on Dialogue About Teaching/Learning: Who is Engaged?

I began this current sequence of blogs by introducing a posting about “Openness to Learning” in which an expert on communication and learning provided insights into how administrators and teachers can optimize student success by engaging in meaningful dialogue.  But it isn’t only teachers and administrators who are engaged in this topic.  Here are some other “potential” discourse partners who can/will influence student success.

Teacher/Parent Conversations

Teacher/Student Conversations

Parent/Student Conversations

Student/Student Conversations

Special Educator/Teacher/Parent/Student Conversations

Teacher/Support Staff Conversations

In an attempt to curate/find relevant files/links for this current series I went back to my ScoopIt site for posts I had curated for my Dialogue and Learning Board: http://www.scoop.it/t/dialogue-and-learning which has over 500 posting starting in 2012.  Here is just a brief listing of the types of posts I curated:

Parent-Teacher Dialogue

http://www.latimes.com/local/education/community/la-me-edu-how-to-actually-get-something-out-of-parent-teacher-conferences-20151023-story.html

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/parent-teacher-conferences-collaborative-conversations-john-mccarthy?spMailingID=12608933&spUserID=MjcyNTI3Njg3NDIS1&spJobID=640473825&spReportId=NjQwNDczODI1S0

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/what-parents-want-teachers-to-know-joe-mazza?spMailingID=9633557&spUserID=MjcyNTI3Njg3NDIS1&spJobID=400677021&spReportId=NDAwNjc3MDIxS0

http://www.scilearn.com/blog/10-questions-to-ask-your-childs-teacher-cognitive-skills

Teacher-Student Dialogue

Students Voice…what are student’s thinking

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocM9Sqz2gzg

Teaching Students to Give and Receive Feedback

http://inservice.ascd.org/teaching-students-to-give-and-receive-meaningful-feedback/

Parent-Student Dialogue

Good Talk: Raising Smart Learners Through Rich Conversations

http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/09/30/good-talk-raising-smart-learners-through-rich-conversations/

Student-Student Dialogue

https://www.middleweb.com/28404/scaffolding-student-skills-for-productive-classroom-discussions/

https://cultofpedagogy.com/speaking-listening-techniques/

What’s Next?

Are there general guidelines for conversation?  Do they apply to all partnerships?  To all situations? Grice’s Maxims offer a starting place ( https://www.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/dravling/grice.html ) but are they enough?

 

 

 

An Approach to Being “Open to Learning”…for Educational Leaders

Leading Students to Success in School

file:///C:/Users/Owner/Downloads/Open-to-learning_Conversations_Background_Paper_In%20(1).pdf

A few short excerpts that I hope will gain your interest and willingness to read and consider the whole 12 page document!  You may find it helpful to start with this 5 minute video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rB7wP8WJZeU

 

“The model of communication that informs this module is that of “Open-to-learning” conversations. At the heart of the model is the value of openness to learning – learning about the quality of the thinking and information that we use when making judgments about what is happening, why and what to do about it. An open-to-learning conversation, therefore, is one in which this value is evident in how people think and talk…. …Leaders may want to address what they see as a performance issue yet believe they can not do so without running an unacceptable risk of increased stress and conflict. In other words, they feel that they can not address the performance issues and maintain relationships with the staff member…”

“… The dilemma between concern for the person and for the task is irresolvable in both these examples,           doc4-cooperation                    because the leader leaves no room for a shared or co-constructed evaluation of the reading programme.

 

In the soft sell strategy, the leader discourages debate by failure to disclose her evaluation of the reading programme. In the hard sell strategy, the leader discourages debate by assuming the truth of her views. Neither strategy will produce the type of conversation that is necessary to reach a principled agreement about the quality of the programme and about whether change is needed….”

“When leaders seek to impose their views rather than invite debate and co-construction,

they face the dilemma of how to do so without creating negative emotional reactions. The key to resolving this dilemma is not, as we have seen, to hide one’s own views in the hope that the other party will express what the leader is reluctant to disclose….”

“Guiding Values Key Strategies

  1. Increase the Validity of Information • Information includes thoughts, opinions, reasoning, inferences and feelings
  • Disclose the reasoning that leads to your views
  • Provide examples and illustrations of your views • Treat own views as hypotheses rather than taken for granted truths
  • Seek feedback and disconfirmation
  1. Increase Respect • Treat others as well intentioned, as interested in learning and as capable of contributing to your own….
  2. Increase Commitment • Foster ownership of decisions through transparent and shared processes,,,,”