Tag: competency-based learning

VOICES: Stacey Wang and Jane Bryson on Developing Teacher Mindsets

January 16, 2019 by

This is the third post in a ten-part series that aims to make concepts, themes, and strategies described in the Moving Toward Mastery: Growing, Developing and Sustaining Educators for Competency-Based Education report accessible and transferable. Links to the other articles in the series are at the end of this post.

What mindsets matter for teachers in competency-based, personalized classrooms? How do we know? How can leaders help teachers shift existing mindsets and develop new ones? These are questions that teachers and leaders grapple with every day. Moving Toward Mastery communicates the importance of developing teacher mindsets, but does not provide specific strategies for how to do this work. This post picks up where the paper left off. I co-authored this post with leaders from Transcend Education, Stacey Wang and Jane Bryson. We reflect on a few big questions. What are mindsets? Can you change them? If so, how? And, how do we do this in our own work?

Background

The “Mindsets Project” did not start as such. Initially, Lindsay Unified School District, Summit Public Schools, Transcend Education, and Columbia University’s Center for Public Research and Leadership came together to co-create a student impact model that would help define quality personalized learning (see Figure 1). As we developed this model, we realized that teacher and leader mindsets have a huge impact on student outcomes and that we needed to make these mindsets more explicit. We studied mindsets research, reflected on hiring practices and success conditions at Lindsay and Summit, and engaged experts around the country. Through this process we found that there are six critical mindsets for teachers to hold about “learners and learning,” and six critical mindsets about “myself and my role.” These are shown in Figure 2 and explained in more detail in An Early Inquiry into Educator and Leadership Mindsets. (more…)

Entry Points: Moving Toward Equity-Oriented Practice

January 14, 2019 by

This is the second post in a ten-part series that aims to make concepts, themes and strategies described in the Moving Toward Mastery report accessible and transferable. The introduction to the series is here.

“In an equity-focused profession, all aspects of practice are designed to ensure success for all learners. Teachers create multicultural and inclusive learning environments and are members of multicultural and inclusive professional communities. They investigate and address their biases and work in partnership with the community to disrupt systemic inequity.” – Moving Toward Mastery, page 21

Almost all competency-based schools and districts would tell you that they are working to close opportunity and achievement gaps to help every child thrive. And yet, while there are examples of progress, equity is far from a reality. Why? That’s a complicated question, but part of the answer has to be about teachers. We can’t get to equity without helping teachers develop the competencies to promote equity every day, with every child.

You might read this and think, “Ok, sure, but how? And, is equity really something that can be taught?” I believe that it is possible for adults to “learn” the mindsets and skill sets needed for equity if they are committed to doing so and if they are supported along the way. What does it look like to be committed? For teachers, it means doing deep personal work that will sometimes be difficult, though ultimately rewarding. For leaders, it means creating the conditions in which teachers can engage in this reflection, addressing systemic inequities and integrating equity into teacher training, hiring, professional learning, evaluation and advancement.

So, what might equity-oriented teaching look like, and how can you cultivate equity-oriented teaching in your school or district? The next three paragraphs paint a vision of what equity-oriented practice would look like. After that, I offer tools to help leaders and teachers assess equity practices in their school or district and identify entry points for action. (more…)

Introducing Moving Toward Mastery

January 11, 2019 by

In November, iNACOL published Moving Toward Mastery: Growing, Developing, and Sustaining Educators for Competency-Based Education. The report grew from a collaboration with educators, leaders, policymakers, and advocates across the country. When I set out on this project I asked dozens of these leaders to help define the “why.” This is what I heard.

To grow competency-based education, help teachers. The competency-based education movement has invested a lot of energy describing changes to the student experience, and how to get there. We can do the same for teachers. While many organizations have drafted teacher competency frameworks – a critical starting point – we can do more to clarify the how. How can teachers shift their practice? How can leaders support them? How will policies and systems need to adapt?

Support teachers, and transform teaching. We have pockets of success. What we need is systems change. Educators and leaders across the country are doing amazing work to shift teaching practices in alignment with competency-based education. But for the most part, our public education system still relies on traditional approaches. Many of us are asking for change within systems that uphold the status quo. Asking educators to make the transition to competency-based practices in spite of outdated systems and policies creates obstacles, even for those who are change-ready educators. And, it discourages others from even trying.

To shift practice, shift mindsets and beliefs. Changing teaching practices is very complex. But as much as these changes require technical clarity and precision, they also require changes in mindsets, beliefs and values. Leaders in the field are emphatic about the importance of the adaptive elements of change: clarifying the why, engaging teachers and families as leaders in the work and creating space and time for teachers and leaders to develop new beliefs and mindsets. (more…)

Wrap-Up on the New Zealand Series

December 31, 2018 by

For those of you thinking about learning about the education system in Aotearoa New Zealand, I’ll offer two pieces of advice. First, beside kia ora (hello), spend time learning a bit about the Māori language and familiarizing yourself with the phrases used at the Ministry of Education. Whanau, Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, and Kāhui Ako will be frequently dropped into conversation. Second, there are loads of great reports on the NZCER website. Take the time to read up before you go. I highly recommend NCEA in Context to understand the reasons and revisions in shaping their method for certifying learning and Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou/Struggle Without End to prepare you to engage effectively in understanding New Zealand’s biculturalism.

Below are all the articles on New Zealand published at CompetencyWorks. I’ll be continuing the series with more school profiles at LearningEdge in 2019. (more…)

16 Quality Principles to Guide Implementation to Competency-Based Education

December 30, 2018 by

If you are just starting out or are midway in your process of making the transition to personalized, competency-based education, please take the time to read Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education. If you are in planning stages, be sure to read the first section, which is a primer on competency-based education including the flaws in the traditional system. It’s important to understand the problems with the traditional system so you can think about what you need to stop doing as well as what you want to put into place.

The best way to read Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education is either by purchasing the book or printing out the quality principles one at a time. Take the time to write down your questions, engage your peers in conversation about whether you think the quality principle makes sense in terms of helping students to learn, and what you have in place that you can build upon. This isn’t an implementation guidebook, as schools chose different entry points and roll-out strategies. Instead, it’s designed to help you make the shift in thinking from the top-down, time-based traditional system to the empowered, flexible system that is designed to make sure that every student is able to succeed and make progress toward college- and career-ready knowledge and skills.  (more…)

Competency-Based Education Quality Principle #16: Advance Upon Demonstrated Mastery

December 28, 2018 by

This is the seventeenth article in a series based on the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education. You can find the section on Principle #16 Advance Upon Demonstrated Mastery on page 99. The links to the other articles can be found at the bottom of this page.

The mastery-based grading helps me understand what I need to learn or do differently. In the old way, when I got a number, I wouldn’t know what to do differently. With the learning targets, I can make better choices and revise things. Student, Young Women’s Leadership Academy

Advancement upon demonstrated mastery is a multi-layered concept that challenges many of the conventions of traditional schools. Too often it is condensed into a concept of ‘self-pace’ that fails to capture the big idea. In fact, if you think that competency-based education is about self-pace, I recommend that you go back to the beginning of the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education and read why the traditional system is failing us and the ten distinguishing features of competency-based education.

Advancement upon demonstrated mastery is better thought of as a culminating capacity that is developed when all the other 15 quality principles are in place. Let’s take a look at the three major capacities that are needed to have students be able to advance upon mastery in a way that is designed so every student is successful. (more…)

Competency-Based Education Quality Principle #15: Develop Processes for Ongoing Continuous Improvement and Organizational Learning

December 27, 2018 by

This is the sixteenth article in a series based on the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education. You can find the section on Principle #15 Develop Processes for Ongoing Continuous Improvement and Organizational Learning on page 96. The links to the other articles can be found at the bottom of this page and will be updated as they are posted.

I think that one can argue that every school, whether it is a traditional school or a personalized, competency-based one, should have processes for continuous improvement in place. It only makes sense that any organization should be in the process of improving. However, traditional schools and school systems are highly bureaucratic in nature. The emphasis is much more on compliance than it is on an organizational drive toward excellence.

Our schools operate in an environment with layers and layers of policy, regulation, and reporting. These layers and layers of governance often create cultures of fear and mistrust. Thus, creating a strong continuous improvement and organizational learning culture, structure, and processes requires leadership. It may be the personal leadership of a teacher who uses formative assessment data to improve his own skills in learning how to help students develop the metacognitive and emotional skills to self-regulate their thinking and behavior. It may be the departmental leader who looks deeply at the data to identify that there are gaps in the domain-specific instructional approaches of teachers. Or it may be the organizational leadership of the principal or the superintendent who takes the courageous stance that they are going to do what’s best for students and manage the compliance requirements as needed.

The point is: In a bureaucratic world, truly engaging in organizational learning and continuous improvement can’t be separated from leadership. (more…)

Competency-Based Education Quality Principle #14: Increase Organizational Flexibility

December 21, 2018 by

This is the fifteenth article in a series based on the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education. You can find the section on Principle #14 Increase Organizational Flexibility on page 92. The links to the other articles can be found at the bottom of this page and will be updated as they are posted.

This structural quality principle about Organizational Flexibility goes hand-in-hand with the pedagogical Principle #9 Responsiveness. It comes down to this: We can’t expect teachers to be able to be responsive to meet students’ needs based on where they are unless the school has been designed to be flexible. For example, in today’s traditional environment, teachers have to purchase many of their own learning resources because the budgeting policies and practices are rigidly run by the district. If teachers are going to be able to respond to where students’ wonder, curiosity, and intellectual passions take them, they are going to need resource allocation operations that can turn on a dime. (more…)

Competency-Based Education Quality Principle #13: Invest in Educators as Learners

December 20, 2018 by

This is the fourteenth article in a series based on the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education. You can find the section on Principle #13 Invest in Educators as Learners on page 87. The links to the other articles can be found at the bottom of this page and will be updated as they are posted.

Competency-based education believes that all students, with the right supports, can learn. Similarly, advocates of competency-based education believe that all educators, with the rights supports, can learn the skills needed to help each and every student to learn. (more…)

How Competency-Based is New Zealand?

December 19, 2018 by

This is the final article in the CompetencyWork series Baskets of Knowledge from Aotearoa New Zealand. Links to the full set of articles are at the bottom of this page. You can find more about New Zealand at LearningEdge.

When I returned from Aotearoa New Zealand, I was frequently asked, “How competency-based is New Zealand?” It was never an easy question to answer because we’ve created a working definition and ten distinguishing features of competency-based that may or may not be the right ones. Furthermore, there are at least three core drivers or bar-raising policy goals that are shaping our understanding of competency-based education:

  • Redesigning schools and learning experiences around what we know about how children learn rather than continuing to operate upon a set of out-of-date beliefs and mindsets that form the traditional system.
  • Responding to changes in society and the economy that require a system that develops a broader set of knowledge and skills for student success: academic knowledge and skills, transferable skills (deeper learning and higher order skills), and lifelong learning.
  • Creating a more equitable system that monitors both growth and achievement to ensure that every student has opportunity to discover their potential and have doors opened for them upon graduation.

(more…)

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