As I mentioned here last week, I am currently on a drive to see every teacher in the school teach. I am doing what we call “snapshot” lesson observations (of about 15-20 minutes in length each) in which I record my observations against 5 key success criteria that were published to staff a couple of weeks ago being:
· Objectives of the lesson clearly explain what students will learn and what progress they will make
· Planned learning is appropriately challenging for the range of abilities and needs of the students present
· Opportunities are planned for the assessment of student progress
· Student centred learning is taking place
· Students are actively engaged in their learning
The observations are unannounced.
As well as, of course, monitoring and evaluating standards across the school, one of my main aims is to collect examples of good practice and I have not been disappointed. My overwhelming sense as I write this piece this morning is that I wish I had been lucky enough to go to a school like this and I am very proud of both my teachers and our students.
One of the key learner qualities that we seek to develop in our students as a committed IB school is resilience. It has been really good this past week to see students being asked to really think in their lessons. Likewise, I found it inspiring to see students really push their limits for their Houses at last week’s galas. You know, young people are not made of crystal; in fact they want to test their limits and push their boundaries: that is part of what growing up is all about. How are they to fulfill their potential if they don’t have a good idea of what it is? So it is OK for students to be given work that they find challenging and usually you will find that, far from being demoralized by it, they take confidence because it shows them that we believe that they are capable of amazing things. Likewise, it is OK for them to stretch themselves in physical activities. The great Nelson Mandela, himself echoing the earlier words of Franklin D Roosevelt, once said:
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” Mandela
At KISU we want our students to be courageous. I think we can all agree that our modern world needs people of physical and moral courage. The most common cause of failure is fear of failure which in itself is an expression of low self-esteem. There is no greater boost for a young person’s self esteem than knowing that they gave their all and did their absolute best.