Just Let Me Play
Keynote speaker John Hattie explores the impact of assessment, feedback and practice. As educators, who best to ask for feedback on our practice than our students? The effects of our impact is determined by what our students see learning as in our classrooms. As a MEd student researching more about the transition to grade 1, I've learned that research suggests that the impact of a program whether it be play based or called inquiry etc... depends on the expertise or more so the ability of the educators to be different and include their learners by being an active listener and moving away from "best practice' because there is no one "right" or "best" way.
As a kindergarten teacher, I am proud to give students the voice in the program and allow our program to transform differently every year. It is essential for children to be encouraged to think aloud. Although we may have large class sizes or a test to prepare students for ( all grades), it isn't about which program you follow or how perfect it may look, it's the way we as educators create an environment with high expectations, less lecturing, more inclusion, and lessons which are not derived from content direct questions, but opportunities to explore, play, investigate, diversify, and make mistakes. Kindergarten teachers have referred to this has play based and connect it with a theory i.e Reggio, Montessori, Waldorf etc... grade educators may refer to it as inquiry, collaboration, STEM... at the end of the day, we are here for our students and need to support their needs and move toward 21c learning opportunities.
"Kids need to be their own teachers"
"It is about teaching skills"
" How do we teach kids to deliberately practice?" - John Hattie
This year, I was delighted to be invited to the Visible Learning Conference this month located downtown Toronto at the Hilton. I was excited to learn that educator, professor and researcher John Hattie would be delivering the keynote. My 5 month old daughter joined me for her first educational conference! John Hattie himself could not resist how involved she was and came to personal engage in a meet and greet (he now is a grandfather himself). For those of you familiar with his work or the work of Mindframes and Visible Learning programs, he delivers decades of research into his work and discusses achievement and assessment from k to 12. As Canadians, we are proud he began his work here in Toronto.
As a kindergarten educator, we are well versed in the importance of the environment for learning, listening to students' interests, and the importance of life long professional learning. The conference was full of admin teams eager to start their year off with motivational team planning, professional learning and tips on how to encourage staff to NOT practice "the best practice" because there is no one right way of teaching something a learner. Instead, the conference was full of inspirational discusses about how to continue to continue educators to take risks, continue to analyze student data and transform learning to fit the child.
John Hattie was clear when he discussed that his research reflected that engaged way key for the learner and interest ranked one of the most important in achievement results (UK, USA, Europe, Australia).
His main question... What works best to support student learning? Active listening, professional learning, differentiation, and inclusiveness etc...
Corwin Press/Nelson is one of those names we see on children's textbooks, however, have we really looked deep into this names to learn more about the people who stand behind me and the quality of their researcher? More importantly, the authenticity? I fell in awe of these wonderful resources because of their ability to unite a team to learn together and develop unity and a positive learning environment.