Newsletter 153 - Schools that Work II Lessons from the groud - NEEDU - In School Factors (Internal)
NEEDU: Schools that Work II Lessons from the Ground
TEACHING-LEARNING PROCESS [IN-SCHOOL FACTORS]
“Five in-school factors or themes and their sub-themes identified through open and axial coding of data are learner-centred climate, enabling conditions, professional development and collaboration, school leadership and management, and quality of teaching. These factors are within the control of the school to manipulate and together they create the conditions for improved learning outcomes. They also create an environment that promotes learners’ personal well-being, ensures a supportive context for learning, and provides all learners—regardless of their abilities and backgrounds—with the best opportunities to learn.”
“High-performing schools do not ignore the connection between what students learn and where they learn. A philosophy that defines these schools is:
The climate has to be right. That’s first and foremost! If it’s not right, then forget it. No best teacher in the world can be effective in an environment where there is no order and discipline. Get that right first and everything will fall into place.”
The statement of best practices that follows expresses key study findings about the role of a learner centred climate in school improvement. These findings convey practices that are common to high performing schools.
BEST PRACTICE 2.1—SAFETY, ORDER AND DISCIPLINE: The schools provide an orderly and secure environment that promotes learners’ personal well-being and ensures a supportive context for learning
The schools understand that “discipline and respect are a necessary prerequisite to any and all school improvement efforts” and that learners need an orderly and secure environment that promotes their personal well-being and ensures a supportive context for learning. School characteristics produce positive behaviours or outcomes that facilitate a rich learning environment.
· Ensure that standards of behaviour, as spelt out in the learners’ code of conduct, are clear to all staff, parents and learners:
· Uphold agreed upon standards of appropriate and inappropriate behaviour in a fair and humane manner that focuses on developing learners’ sense of responsibility to themselves and their peers
· Praise and recognise positive and improved behaviour and do not tolerate disrespectful language and behaviour.
· Respect the cultures of its learners and use their cultural diversity as a resource and meet their schools’ targets towards the eradication of racism and bullying.
BEST PRACTICE 2.2—ACADEMIC PRESS: The schools send strong messages about the importance and value of schoolwork to learners of all ages and ability The high-performing schools send strong messages about the importance and value of schoolwork to learners of all ages and ability (i.e. academic press). In these schools, there is reduction of non-teaching demands that draw teachers away from their classes and their learners. To do this, schools:
· Ensure learner and teacher punctuality in the morning—Following are examples of how highperforming schools improve learner punctuality. They:
Send parents an SMS after marking the class registers to inform the parents if a learner is not at school.
ü Expect parents to inform the school immediately if the child is going to be late. We expect the parents to communicate that the learner is going to be late. Most of the time a child is late because parents drop the child late here.
ü Have morning classes: “This helps us so that learners come early to school. We don’t have a problem concerning late-coming because learners start extra classes at 06:00 before the school starts at 07:30.”
· Monitor learner and teacher attendance closely—One key factor in creating a learner-centred climate in high-performing schools is good attendance. Following are examples how highperforming schools make sure learner and teacher attendance is at acceptable levels. They:
ü Set attendance targets, and staff and parents are aware of attendance levels. These schools are less concerned about the average daily attendance because as one teacher notes:
· Ensure punctuality between lessons and after break—There is respect for teaching time.
Following are examples how high-performing schools make sure that every minute counts. They:
ü Make sure that teachers stand in the doorway at the beginning of a class period to encourage learners to get to class on time.
ü Manage the time for morning assembly carefully:
As management and staff of [this school], we cannot afford to spend time on any activity other than academic activities. We are conscious about our assembly. Our assembly cannot go beyond 07:30. The first period should start at 07:30. And when the break is over everybody is ready to go to class on time because we cannot spend time on anything else but in class teaching and learning.
· Set and meet high expectations for all learners. High-performing schools believe that, to produce good results, they need to challenge learners more. These schools challenge themselves to provide the expectations and opportunities they might reserve for “gifted” learners to all of their learners, including those considered disadvantaged or at-risk. Following are examples of how high-performing schools set high expectations and apply them consistently. They:
ü Encourage their staff, learners, parents/care-givers to have high expectations of themselves
ü Believe that all of their learners can and will learn. If learners do not grasp something at the first presentation, teachers pursue alternative methods until an uncertain learner understands. Consequently, self-doubt among certain learners that only a handful of learners are innately good at Mathematics and other subjects is beginning to give way to the recognition among learners that “it is really about hard work”
· Set and meet achievement targets. In this study, many schools acknowledge that achieving the
national targets begins with schools meeting individual learner targets. Thus, targets are set at
different levels chronologically as follows:
ü Learners‘ targets—Each learner is encouraged to set his or her own goals and targets. All learners have and are aware of their targets
ü Subject targets—“Each subject has got its own targets,”
ü Schools targets: We set our target at the beginning of the year. For instance this year, our target is 100% pass rate—which we have achieved for the past five years—100% bachelors, and we want to get 100% pass in all the subjects.
ü PEDs/districts targets:
BEST PRACTICE 2.3—REWARD AND INCENTIVE: The schools create a strong culture of academic achievement by celebrating their successes and commiserating over their failures in different ways Many schools mentioned that although they have good and committed learners, a certain segment of the student body seems content with the barest minimum pass requirements—just getting by. Trying to inspire learners who are struggling, unmotivated, and have “an IDC [I don’t care] attitude” and to get these learners to work up to their potential is an ongoing challenge raised by many schools. To address this challenge, the schools have created a strong culture of academic achievement by celebrating their successes and commiserating over their failures in different ways. Following are different ways they do this:
· Show-case learners’ work. A common approach is to display learners’ good work throughout the school. The Principals encourage every teacher to display proficient and exemplary learners’ work in a highly visible manner. The result of these displays is that every learner, parent, and teacher has a clear and consistent understanding of what the school-wide expectations are for academic excellence.
· Make sure that systems for rewards and sanctions are consistent, clear, well-managed and used effectively across the whole school. Following are examples of how high-performing schools develop and apply systems for rewards and sanctions. They:
ü Award academic excellence by announcing high-performing learners at the assembly, award and prize giving day, honours day, or Principal awards day: “Everyone fights to be amongst the learners who are going to be called up in front”. Learners are rewarded with prizes, certificates, pins, trophies or badges.
ü Organise stakeholders to award 12 Grade learners who are best performers with bursaries for their tertiary education.
BEST PRACTICE 2.4—POSITIVE TEACHER/LEARNER ATTITUDE: Teachers sustain a collective focus on learning: They believe that all learners can learn and that teachers can help them in spite of obstacles that are present Teachers and staff believe that all students can learn and meet high standards. While recognizing that some learners must overcome significant barriers, these obstacles are not seen as insurmountable. Each of the schools develops a culture that supports learners’ success. To do this they:
· Cultivate optimistic attitude among teachers:
· Encourage learners to develop a positive attitude and disposition to their learning
BEST PRACTICE 2.5—CULTURE AND VALUES: Each school has a very strong, unique culture and value system, which underpin everything it stands for, and they live their values One of the crucial keys to the success of consistently outstanding schools is undoubtedly the culture and values of the school. These values take time to establish and require constant nurturing. High performing schools have a very strong culture, so powerful that “new staff is assimilated into it” Following are different ways how values in the high-performing schools in this study become central to their ethos and how they underpin everything they stand for and do:
· Provide a sense of purpose, direction and self-belief that will ensure continuous improvement and see the school through any unpredicted challenges. Amongst other things, the schools that work do the following:
ü Orientate parents of new learners at the school about “how things are run at this school”
ü Make parents sign the pledge to commit themselves to abiding by the culture of the school. “Learners also pledge to play their part.”
· Inculcate a strong work ethic:
· Ensure a high degree of consistency in approaches, regardless of which staff member is involved: When teachers go to class, we make sure that they have lesson plans. And they know that before they go to class the HOD must first check the relevance of the lesson plan and its correlation vis-a-vis the annual teaching plan. We check the quality.
· Hold a view that no challenge is insurmountable. No effort is spared in the search for ways of
doing things better
•BEST PRACTICE 2.1 SAFTEY, ORDER AND DISCIPLINE: The schools provide an orderly and secure environment that ensures a supportive context for learning
•BEST PRACTICE 2.2 ACADEMIC PRESS: The school sends strong messages about the importance and value of school work to learners of all ages and ability
•.BEST PRACTICE 2.3 REWARD AND INCENTIVE: The schools create a strong culture of academic achievement by celebrating their successes
•BEST PRACTICE 2.4 POSITIVE TEACHER/LEARNER ATTITUDE: Teachers believe that all learners can learn and that teachers can help them in spite of obstacles that are present
•Best Practice 2.5 CULTURE AND VALUES: Each school has a very strong unique culture and values, which underpin everything it stands for
•LEARNER-CENTRED CLIMATE Discipline is the ‘mother' of all. The beginning for success is discipline.