We all teach, lead, and learn under different Mindframes. They envelope our personal lives as well as into our professional conversations. John Hattie, someone I have worked with for the last year and a half as a Visible Learning trainer, has written extensively about the nine Mindframes our students need for learning (click here for his guest blog when there were 7). Those Mindframes are equally as important for teachers and school leaders as well.
Last week, as some of us presented with Hattie on his jam-packed presentation tour across the U.S., he announced a 10th mindframe, which is easy to discuss but less easy to put into practice. First and foremost, Hattie believes that in order to maximize learning we need to make sure that we embody the following 9 mindframes:
- I am an evaluator-Evaluation isn’t just about the formal evaluation that comes down from the state education department and district offices. As educators we all have to evaluate whether our practices are bringing out the best learning in our students. After all, in Hattie’s words we have to “Know Thy Impact.”
- I am a change agent– In these days of more accountability and more on the plates of teachers and leaders, it’s easy to feel as though we are victims to our present educational situations. Hattie believes we have to change our mindsets to understanding we are change agents. This is important, because research shows that when teachers have a low level of efficacy they feel as though they don’t have any impact on student learning, which doesn’t put them in the role of change agent at all. It’s important for leaders to establish a school climate that fosters an increased sense of teacher efficacy, so that they can build collective teacher efficacy as a staff, and help teachers realize they may be one of the only change agents in a child’s life.
- I talk about learning and not about teaching– When we talk about teaching we are focusing on the adult in the room and very often forget about the students. The adult is important, but focusing on the student is more important. In the Politics of Distraction, Hattie wrote that school stakeholders, policymakers and politicians talk a great deal about the adult issues in school, such as unions, prep time and teacher evaluation, but not enough time discussing learning.
- I see assessment as feedback to me– Ward et al wrote that schools are awash with data but very often the data that we all have access to is not used at the depth that it could be because data has been used as a “gotcha” instead of a tool that could lead to deeper conversations. What sort of formative assessment (click here for this guest blog by Shirley Clarke) are we doing to make sure that what we are doing in the classroom is actually working?
- I engage in dialogue and not monologue– In these days of 24/7 communication tools I wonder if we really listen to one another any better than we did before we had access to those tools? Do we engage in dialogue where we listen to the thoughts of the person on the other side of the conversation, or do we use the conversation to merely get our own self-interests across? In the classroom with students, do teachers listen to students or just lecture and talk at students without giving them enough time to debate and discuss?
- I enjoy challenge– Hattie believes we spend too much time giving students answers to questions that they struggle with in the classroom; instead of taking the opportunity to teach them that error is the best way to learn. It’s through error that they dig deep within themselves. This will work better, if at a young age, we teach students that learning is not always easy, which is one of the greatest parts of it.
- I engage in positive relationships– In Hattie’s work he has shown that teacher-student relationships have an effect size of .72 which is nearly double the hinge point (.40) he found through his research that offers a year’s worth of growth for a year’s input. Positive relationships, whether through teacher-student relationships, or the relationships students have with peers, can have an enormous benefit.
- I use the language of learning– The focus on learning is important, which is why we need to talk about it more than we talk about teaching. However, having common language around learning is the crucial next step. Schools that focus on learner dispositions and teach students how and when to use them can help change the mindset of school stakeholders.
- I see learning as hard work– All of the above Mindframes come together in this mindframe. Engaging in dialogue, diving deeply into assessment data, teaching students about learning dispositions, and becoming change agents is no easy task, which is why learning is hard work.
The 10th mindframe that Hattie released last week is:
I Collaborate – Hattie not only has 10 mindframes but within his research he found 150 influences on learning, which continues to grow. I collaborate is crucial to the influence that is near the top spot, which is collective teacher efficacy. We, as adults, teach students about the importance of collaboration, and team sports have hopefully been focusing on that issue as well. Unfortunately, adults still don’t collaborate as grade levels and departments nearly as often as they should. It happens in pockets, but not always across schools.
In the End
The Mindframes of learning are important, and I’m not just saying that because I am a Visible Learning trainer and work with John Hattie. Adults go to counselors and invest a great deal of time and energy into practices that will help them shift their Mindframes at home. We need to do the same for our Mindframes that we carry to work with us every day.
Collaboration, which brings together diverse thinkers who engage in authentic conversation, can help shift our thinking which inspires us to grow as learners. It’s why Twitter is so popular with educators because they find professional and personal learning networks which help them think outside the box. Imagine how much better it would be if we didn’t always have to go to social networking for that and could find it within our own buildings as well.
Want to learn more about Mindframes? Join Peter Dewitt, along with keynoters John Hattie, Michael Fullan, Pedro Noguera, and Viviane Robinson at the 2016 Annual Visible Learningplus Conference: Mindframes and Maximizers.