Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Values, are they for learning or behaviour?

Often values at schools are talked about in relation to how we want our kids to be. We use words like "trust" and "respect". These values are incredibly important, especially when thinking restoratively. However, they are behavioural values and are of course an important feature of growing the whole child, especially when they link to a dispositional curriculum. What about learning though, what do we value here?

I have been doing a lot of thinking around what we value around learning. Having a clear understanding of what these values are and why we need them is important. Reflecting through the 'lens' of these learning values is one way of living out what we believe.

We started by asking the questions "what is powerful to learn and what is powerful learning?"

This has led us to thinking about our values around learning. We spent a lot of time looking at the 'why' for a lot of values, in the end we came up the following five, Relationships, Innovative Practice, Collaboration, Personalised Learning, Authentic Learning. They link and one can't really happen without the other.

Each staff meeting we "Walk the Walls"of each learning space and celebrate and critique and question the collaborative staff on what is happening in their learning space, again through the lens of the learning values. Making sure that we see clear connections in their practice and identifying the links between the values, acknowledging it's most powerful when all are present.

Relationships is the first value we all co-constructed together. This I believe is key to all we do. Relationships are at the heart of powerful learning. Relationships lead to a clearer pathway to personalising learning at all levels, for staff and students. Without relationships, how do we know the learner. It also helps with our second value...

Collaboration! This value is mentioned throughout a range of research around 21stC learning as an important skill/understanding of the future. It also is a crucial aspect of growing our staff. Many staff who are working here have never truly collaborated, they may have team taught, or shared responsibility, but never got to the essence of collaborating. This is a great value to grow with the staff. The students take to this far more efficiently as it's a natural part of their make-up.

Authentic learning is a real "no brainer" creating connections for students is vital. What is authentic to one, may not be to another, so again, knowing your learner is key. Co-constructing the authentic aspect for each students learning is the fun part of the learning journey.

Innovative Practice is another area we value. We get questioned on this a lot. For us, this is not about being trendy, having a device in every students hand, doing the latest fad. Innovative practice is how we reflect on the practice we are using. Asking- "Is it working for all of our students?" "Is it differentiating to meet needs?" "Are we asking ourselves why we are doing this?" These questions and reflections lead us onto our last learning value.

Personalising learning. This value is here not to look at individuals and create plans for each and everyone of them, this value is here because it links relationships, collaboration, authentic learning and innovative practice together to meet the needs of our students. Valuing them as an individual as part of a group. Valuing that they may need a different conversation than the student beside them, valuing the relationship they have with their family, valuing the needs they have. Again knowing the learner so we can positively impact on them.

This journey of living these values is an ongoing one for us as a learning community. The real power behind them, we have found, is how we use them as a reflective tool to see that what we are co-constructing is impacting on student outcomes. 

Using the learning values as a lens for reflecting has empowered staff to own their practice and think deeply about learning and have challenging conversations.