Trust in education

Trust in the school context, especially around the use of technology.

Archive for the tag “Educators”

Trusting that students will say something nice

The school that my children attend prides itself on its community “feel” and the character of its students.  On the whole I agree.

Happy students from another school.

      Happy students from another school

A couple of the most telling examples from over the years:

  • The applause that went on and on and on and on for the senior student who was given an award for having achieved despite difficult circumstances.  This student’s father had died during his senior year.
  •  The guest’s at my son’s 16th birthday party, sitting around a fire pit and singing.  A 16th birthday party could have been a lot worse…
  • The time I chanced upon a group of students on campus at the end of an open day.  Most visitors had left.  One of the students had his back to me and didn’t know I was nearing the group on my way out.  He was describing something which had happened and his description included some swearing. I don’t think the students recognised me as a current parent of the school and his comments were intended for his peers’ ears only.  The students who could see me gave him meaningful looks and he turned in some confusion and noticed me and realised that I had heard his words.  Maybe I should have been offended.  I don’t enjoy listening to “f words” but what had the most impact on me was the look on his face which clearly showed his disappointment in himself.  If he had said it in words, I don’t think he could have any more clearly expressed the sense that he had let down himself, his peers and his school.

I do understand why schools ban students from discussing or posting about school happenings on social media.  They fear for their reputations if a bad impression is given and we all know that a social media post can have a wide reach.

The trouble is that the good things happening often go unnoticed for fear of the bad things that might get too much notice.

Yesterday my daughter, along with her classmates, worked to put together birthing kits.

Image courtesy of adrielbooker.com

Image courtesy of adrielbooker.com

She told me that she thought it was possibly the “coolest thing she had ever done”.  She was touched by having been able to do something which would help someone so directly.  I’m sure some of her friends felt the same.  Wouldn’t it have been cool if she could have snapchatted or Facebooked it.

The students’ characters, the school’s values and the cause they’re working for would all have got some great publicity.

If we teach digital citizenship, can we trust our students to say positive things?

Dig Cit 2

 

 

 

 

Dig cit

Photo credits:

Prinnie Stevens, Mahalia Barnes

Trusting technology to build relationships

Thanks to George Couros for this infographic.This infographic comes from George Couros, thePrincipal of Change.

Trusting badges

Earning badges for achievements is nothing new. Organisations like Scouts and Guides have been doing it for years.

640px-US_Navy_081004-N-5345W-021_Cub_Scouts_prepare_to_parade_the_colors

 

Digital badging is newer.

Openbadges

With the rise of MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses), there has been a rise in the use of digital badges as a recognition of the holder ‘s achievement and a proof that the holder has done what he/she claims to have done, although the use of badges is not confined to MOOCs.

Grant and Shawgo  have annotated a bibliography of sources which offer information and opinions on different aspects of the badge system.

A major issue associated with the badge system is the notion of trust, i.e. whether an employer or person authorised to grant accreditation for prior learning can trust the validity of a badge and the rigour of the learning behind it.

So far there is little evidence of the badge system in use in Australian schools although schools of distance education are diversifying their offerings beyond the traditional provision for remote students.  In time a badge will perhaps replace a certificate upon completion of the course.

Proponents envision a robust, valuable and open system of accreditation.  Leslie (2013) writes, “the value of the system overall increases as more nodes join and a large, robust network emerges over time”.

I have been experimenting with badges in the classroom this year – they’re not digital and they’re linked to behaviour outcomes rather than academic outcomes.  The primary school system in Australia is not quite ready for that yet!

IMG_0082

Our classroom system works this way:

  1. Students earn a card for displaying a particular behaviour that I want to encourage (e.g. good listening, following instructions, being kind to someone)
  2. When a student has five cards the same, they “cash them in” to earn a badge which they display on their desk.  They also earn a sticker for their chart which is the school wide reward system.
  3. Another five cards earns a badge of a different colour, which is higher in value.  Bronze is followed by silver, then gold, platinum, pearl, emerald…

Trust is involved when:

  • I tell a student that he/she has earned a card and they collect it from the box on my desk at a convenient time.  I am probably not near the box when they collect the cards.IMG_0084
  • A student cashes in their cards and writes on a post-it note which badge they have earned.  Again, I am probably not near the box so I don’t see how many cards they have deposited or what type they are.

The system is ripe for abuse but very little is happening.  I have assumed that I can trust the children in my care and I believe they have acted in a trustworthy way because the non-tangible rewards for being trusted are better that the tangible rewards for betraying trust.

 

Photo credits:

“US Navy 081004-N-5345W-021 Cub Scouts prepare to parade the colors” by U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher S. Wilson – This Image was released by the United States Navy with the ID 081004-N-5345W-021 Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_Navy_081004-N-5345W-021_Cub_Scouts_prepare_to_parade_the_colors.jpg#mediaviewer/File:US_Navy_081004-N-5345W-021_Cub_Scouts_prepare_to_parade_the_colors.jpg

“Openbadges” by Anyashy – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Openbadges.png#mediaviewer/File:Openbadges.png

Cats and dogs as parents

 

On one level, this is just a funny clip about the differences between cats and dogs.  On another level, it says something about parenting and how we teach our children to view the world.

The dog in this clip patiently encourages its young, never far away while the puppy attempts to descend the scary staircase.

The cat just pushes its kitten down the stairs.

Of course, we only see the cats briefly.  The mother cat may have tried the other options first.

I remember gently but firmly pushing my daughter (then aged about 8) onto a chairlift because I’d tried all the encouraging talk and she was still hesitating.  I knew she was a child who sometimes did just need a push to try something new.

Teachers sometimes see parents who act a bit like the dog mother as she tries to walk down the stairs over the top of the puppy – helicopter parents or smother mothers – who try to shield their child from everything that could go wrong and rescue them from their bad decisions so that they never have to face the consequences.

They justify their actions to themselves and others as just protective parenting.  They say that they are only seeking justice and fairness when they question why their child is being punished for something he or she did at school or why he or she didn’t get a better mark for a piece of assessment.

It’s true that teachers sometimes make unfair judgements – usually in the absence of all the evidence.  It’s true that marking across classes and schools is not completely equal, no matter how hard we try.  Occasionally even the most reserved parent needs to step in and ask questions.  Teachers, however, are professionals who in most cases make decisions thoughtfully.

It’s also true that as parents we generally want to believe that our children would not do the wrong thing – not punch a classmate, not lie to a teacher about what happened in the playground, not break the school rules –but if we are honest we have to admit that children (just like adults) sometimes make bad choices.

We will not always be there to rescue our children from the consequences of their actions.  If my adult daughter gets angry with her boss and swears at her and gets fired, I can’t step in to complain that she was provoked and the boss is unfair.  If my adult son doesn’t get the promotion he really wanted because he hasn’t been working as hard as someone else, it will do me no good to ring the employer and argue about why he deserves to get it.

And sometimes, life is just unfair.  People invest money which is subsequently lost by the actions of con artists or the whims of the stock market; women who have done nothing wrong suffer domestic violence; jobs can be hard to find; people contract chronic or terminal diseases.

Children need to start developing resilience while they are young and part of that is learning how to cope with the knocks, setbacks and disappointments that life brings – deserved or undeserved.

It is said that it takes a village to raise a child.  Once we have found the village to help us raise our children, we parents need to place some trust in the other members of that village. Sometimes they might push our kitten down the stairs (metaphorically, not literally!) but maybe that is what our kitten needs.

Trusting parents not to do children’s homework

I’m sure all teachers have been in the position where you suspect that a child’s homework has not been completed by that child.  It can be hard to understand the thinking of the parent (presumably) who did the homework.  In one case I remember I think the mother did it for the sake of a quiet life.  She certainly didn’t gain her son any academic advantages because her spelling was worse than his!

Should parents help children with homework?

Should parents help children with homework?

However, I am often surprised at the vehemence with which some primary school teachers insist that assessment pieces should not be done at home.  Their reasoning is that parents might end up doing the assessment for the child or significantly assisting them to do the assessment and that’s not a fair judgement of the child’s ability.

I don’t agree with that position for lots of reasons.  Here are some of them:

  • I know that as a classroom teacher, as hard as I try, there is no way I can give every one of my students the same amount of support and scaffolding and helping them at the point where they really need help as a willing and competent parent can give.  There just aren’t enough hours in the school day.
  • It’s common for secondary school and tertiary level assessments to be completed in unsupervised conditions. (Yes, some tasks are supervised but not all.)
  • In “real life” we can usually ask for help or access resources to help us complete whatever it is we need to complete.
  • Collaboration and critical thinking are skills we talk about as essential for 21st century learners.
  • Some assessment tasks can still be done at school to give a “balanced” view of what a student can do under different conditions.  Some children perform well under exam conditions.  Is it not giving them an unfair advantage if all assessment is done that way?
  • A parent does not do their child any favours if they do the child’s assignment for them.  It may gain advantages for them in the short term but in the long term that child is not equipped with the necessary skills to approach tasks in study or in working life.  Helping your child to learn how to research and apply critical judgement, to summarise and analyse is not the same as doing their assignment for them.

Yes, some parents are more equipped than others to help their children with schoolwork but there are a lot of factors which predict academic achievement, including parental expectations but also

  • teacher effectiveness
  • curriculum quality
  • school environment
  • prior student ability and motivation, and
  • socio-economic status.

I still think my major job role is to help children to learn, not to help them to ace tests.

I am a partner in children’s learning – along with their parents.

I teach them for a year.

Their parents teach them for a lifetime.

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/oakleyoriginals/3393259139/”>OakleyOriginals</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

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