Looking Back and Looking Forward | Steve Barkley

Looking Back and Looking Forward

Winter LandscapeAs this blog arrives hopefully most readers are getting some well-deserved rest and relaxation as 2019 closes out and you prepare to greet students in 2020. Perhaps like me, you are allowing yourself some time for reflection.

I frequently describe the excitement of working in education with its constant opportunities to learn. The knowledge that there is no fear of mastering the field prior to retirement years. (Blog: There is no Mountaintop to Teaching.)

Here are three areas I’m reflecting on as I look back on the last year and ahead to the next year’s learning opportunities. I hope they might spark your reflection and exploration for new learning. I provided some additional blogs and podcasts for reflection.

# 1 – A Focus on Learning Production

The more classroom observations I have the more my attention focuses on what the learner is doing. And increasingly I am looking at individual learners. As a teacher, how do I create the learning production behaviors that have the largest number of students, spending the greatest amount of time, engaged in the most appropriate learning production behaviors? An ASCD Smart Brief (December 11,2019) shared this survey result:

Which is the biggest challenge you face with your students?

  • Distracted and lack of engagement  53.78%
  • Unstable home and family  24.30%
  • Poor academic habits   18.73%
  • Poor health and food insecurity   3.19%

If that is what we are finding in classrooms, what changes are we be exploring/implementing?

As soon as I saw this result, I pondered on how the educators who responded are exploring how they need to change to positively impact students’ focused engagement and the development of academic habits. Here are some past blogs you might find helpful…

A castle

#2 – Leaders must Create Ways to Generate Teacher Collective Efficacy

John Hattie has identified collective teacher efficacy as the top indicator/predictor of successful schools. It is unlikely to develop without a leadership plan for creating the environment and opportunities for teachers to know and support each other as professionals with a shared responsibility for student success. It does not happen by accident. You can’t hire a staff with it. Leaders need to nurture it. Related blogs…

# 3 – How Technology Can Fit into Teacher Learning and Coaching

(This image is from my computer screen while working with 200 teachers at Western Academy of Beijing while we explored the design of professional growth plans.)

I have done quite a bit of work with educators in Saudi Arabia and China as well as in the US connecting on Zoom, Skype, Go To Meeting and Facetime. Initially this work was established due to travel costs and time constraints. I found that using a person onsite to facilitate, I can create learning conversations, inquiry, and modeling very close to onsite sessions. In several cases, we have achieved rather rapid implementation of processes like peer coaching, PLC conversations and meaningful growth plans. I believe that part of the success is the frequent, short experiences that one can afford to provide. I have done 45 minute staff sessions early morning before school, administrative 90 minute workshops as part of a planning retreat, and 30-75 minute keynotes with staff discussion and questions.The format allows me to be back with a group soon and answering questions they submitted following the last session. In one school I am on a 20-minute call with the leadership team every other week, exploring strategies they are implementing. I’m hoping to have new experiences and broaden my understanding and possibilities this coming year.

Here’s to pondering and learning in 2020. Please consider sending me your thoughts and questions to ponder and explore.



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