Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What Languages Does Your School Offer?

I was recently working with a Student Aspirations Team at the beginning of their Year 2 work. I asked veterans to explain the 8 Conditions to their newer teammates, in their own words. Here is what they said:
  • Belonging means you don't have to pretend to be someone else, and you can just be yourself.
  • Heroes inspire you to strive for your dreams; they give you that extra push you need to be successful.
  • Sense of Accomplishment is when you reach your goals; it's when you are okay with a B or even a C+ as long as you know you did your best.
  • Fun & Excitement is when you enjoy yourself while learning; doing activities in school that show fun and respect can go together.
  • Curiosity & Creativity means being able to share your own ideas in class; you can ask "Why are things like this?"
  • Spirit of Adventure is being open-minded and realizing there are all kinds of things to learn, and just working with it no matter where you are.
  • Leadership & Responsibility means having a big role in what happens at school; you set the standard by doing the right thing.
  • Confidence to Take Action means just doing it! Take action! Knowing I can do this.
You can read our formal definitions on the QISA website, but these students did a great job of capturing it.

One of the easier parts of our work is that the 8 Conditions are readily understandable by all the stakeholders in a school. From kindergardeners to high school seniors to the Ed.D. administrator, students and teachers get what the terms mean. I am not sure 4th graders know what "differentiated instruction" is, or if a high school freshman knows whether or not his teachers are using a "culturally relevant pedagogy." They probably think "frameworks" are way to hang pictures on a wall and that "benchmarks" are when someone carves their name into those seats in the park.

We adults can learn about and discuss intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation, or self-efficacy, or the pedagogical conditions that are malleable in the teaching-learning environment. But if we want our students to be our partners in helping create better teaching and learning environments, we are going to need a common language that brings everyone closer to the school's goals - whatever they are.

22 comments:

Barbie said...

The student aspiration team had all upbeat definitions. It was easy to see that the aspiration team believed in what they were doing, felt they belonged and were inspired to do their best. (no mention of state testing). I think their definitions should be the official definitions, they were easy to understand and they made me want to be part of their team!

Tammy Foley said...

I found it easier to understand when it was put into terms the way other students would understand. I liked how the blog said that students are not going to understand words like "framework" and "benchmark." I am a little embarrassed to say that I have used these words in my classroom and realize that my students are probably sitting there thinking to themselves that they have no clue what I am talking about. I am going to take the definitions that the aspiration team used and teach them to my students. They will definitely understand and gain value from them.

Tiffany Lewis said...

I do agree that if we are expecting our students to be integrated within the classroom structure and be successful in taking steps to achieve their hopes and dreams, we MUST ALL be on the same page and using the language so that we can communicate better. I too, have used the teacher vocabulary of "benchmarks" and I am 100% sure that this means nothing to my 1st grade students, but when it is put into the framework of their individual reading levels.....Students were able to relate and more importantly, become actively involved in the process, which immediately promoted success!!!! I'd like to continue to work on communicating with my students using the appropriate 1st grade language I want and need them to become familiar with,.,. and more importantly understand!

MsEW said...

I think the 8 conditions are in student friendly language which is important. Its absolutely critical that "the 8 Conditions are readily understandable by all the stakeholders in a school. From kindergardeners to high school seniors to the Ed.D. administrator, students and teachers get what the terms mean."

Tina Leigh Dicks said...

Having student friendly explanations for what we are doing at school is so important to kids buying in to being at school. They don't understand benchmarks or framework except that it probably means more testing.

Cathy said...

I think the 8 Conditions are doable as a common language. I'm also happy to see that they were able to align them with the Thoughtful Classroom. The student definitions were spot on.

Megan Donaldson said...

This sums up a challenge I face every day eith my preschool students. I use words that are so common in the English language but are so foreign to them. I use this as an opportunity to work on action! We work as a class to pull all of our knowledge of a word to make our own definition. I often think they do a better job than the dictionary!!

Donald Acker said...

Our school is just starting to be introduced to Aspirations. I have found the information very helpful. I try to use the language with the students during my guidance lessons. I have started to hear some of the students using language of the 8 conditions.

Kevin Mitchell said...

I think that they are effective. And I think that the students prove that when they are able to explain each of the conditions in a way that the other students are able to understand them. If the definitions are not in a language that students cannot comprehend/ use then what good are they. Students may be able to memorize the "adult" version of the conditions but what good is that if they cannot use them.

Jilliane Rose said...

Hearing the 8 conditions from a students point of view is extremely helpful in directing me in introducing and explaining them to my first graders.

Jami Beshear said...

Our school has not used the Aspirations or 8 conditions for very long, but the students seem to be picking it up easily. I do think that this is due to it being able to be defined in their own terms. These are so much better than the usual educational jargon. Also, the creative aspect of how the students can define and apply it their own way seems more acceptable for them, rather than someone coming in and telling them what believe and to do.

Jami Beshear said...

I liked that the student aspiration team was able to define all of the terms into their own language which was easily understood. Unlike much of the educational jargon, the 8 conditions make sense with very little effort for parents, students, and teachers alike. I can remember the first time I read the term pedagogy and thought "huh?" Also, students are encouraged to use their creativity to come up with their own meanings instead of an outside group telling them what to do, which would also tend to help the students embrace it more readily.

Ms Cook said...

As teachers we take the objectives/state standards and put them in kid friendly language so that our students will know what we are striving to learn. I love that the 8 conditions were also put into kid friendly language. I also appreciate that it is in language elementary students can understand not just high school and middle schoolers. Can't wait to begin using this language in my classroom with my third graders.

Kberv said...

I love that they put the conditions into their own words, if we want kids to understand and take part in the conditions, they need to be able to understand them.

Jami Beshear said...

I love the definitions of the aspirations. I can see kids get bogged down in the relatively large word "aspiration" but they seemed to really grasp the concepts behind all eight of the conditions. I also appreciate how students can immediately practice each of the conditions for themselves under their own power which gives them a unique sense of ownership.

Jami Beshear said...

I found the eight conditions much easier to understand than many of the pedagogical plans that have been used over the years. I often can barely understand the word "pedagogy" myself, how do we expect students to do the same? The eight conditions are easy for the students to redefine in their own image and to find ways to apply them to their own needs. As such, it presents a great opportunity for student ownership in the entire process.

Jami Beshear said...

Our school has not been exposed to Aspirations very long, but I like the fact that the aspirations and conditions can be rephrased into the students' own terms, and can be understood so readily. This gives them a bigger sense of ownership in the process, and makes it much easier for them to learn.

Erica Roszler said...

The student team create student friendly words. This helps different levels of achievement to understand the definition and be able to apply it to their learning. I enjoyed how the article said they are not going to reflect on the challenging words, differentiation benchmarks. But their friendly words. The framework allows them to achieve what they can and to be proud of it!

Catherine Sekinger said...

Our school is nearing the end of Year One and it has been very exciting and informational. It is encouraging to read how many others agree about the upbeat and easy to understand ideas about t he 8 Guiding Practices. We as educators are use to terms that my float high above our children's minds but we do infact need a common language. If I am speaking about curiosity, I want my students to understand exactly what my expectations are for their ability to feel free to ask questions and explore-challenge me! I feel that Quaglia sets up a challenge for not only the staff...but the students as well. I am going to take the definitions from this blog back to my classroom, and see if my students can relate, or if they would make any changes.

Penny Davis said...

Students want to excel. However, sometimes we don't use kid friendly language in talking to them about expectations. We must start by clearly defining aspirations and its parts.I think about the idea of a hero. Most students and adults need to change their mindset if we are to move forward. I believe that principle #1 is the key to creating purpose (#3) among our students.

A Piece of Cake said...

I think schools all know that these 8 concepts are vital, but sometime we struggle to incorporate them all especially with accountability and the amount of scripted curriculum.

Susan said...

I think that the 8 Conditions are definitely school friendly and appropriate. Our students need to hear those conditions mentioned daily and include them into their own speaking. This way, they will they will become second nature.