An SGIS Faculty Meeting: Engaging, Listening, and Choosing the School

SGIS PORTRAIT OF A GRADUATE
SGIS PORTRAIT OF A GRADUATE

[In today’s post I am sharing some highlights from of a faculty meeting we had at St. George’s Independent School in November of 2016. I led the meeting twice–once for our Collierville campus faculty and staff and once for our Memphis and Germantown campuses faculty and staff. It was an important meeting. Perhaps most significant, in addition to the discussion of how to create deep student engagement, was the section for faculty members at the end called, “Choosing the School.”]

Key Notes from the SGIS Faculty Meeting November 2016

Creating TRUSTING RELATIONSHIPS leads to DEEP ENGAGEMENT; DEEP ENGAGEMENT leads to QUALITY LEARNING.

ENGAGEMENT begins with teachers building trusting relationships with students. In order for students to lean into the discomfort of great learning, there must be faith in the adult creating the context and driving assessment–both formative and summative.

  • Students will not be ENGAGED in the intended learning if the teacher is not.
  • Deep ENGAGEMENT is not comfortable. It is the result of the moment when curiosity and a need to know more outweighs the desire to stay comfortable in pre-existing knowledge or belief.
  • ENGAGEMENT is a gateway to vital components such as collaboration and critical thinking. Once a student feels a need to know and to understand, the necessity of reaching out to others becomes natural. Efforts to create collaborative environments where critical thinking is central hinges on student ENGAGEMENT.
  • Without ENGAGEMENT, academic experiences are only that–academic. Without ENGAGEMENT, classroom experiences are empty calories, a virtual skimming across the surface of learning. Most dangerously, such experiences can become cynical exercises in jumping through hoops for academic rewards.

 The importance of listening to students to create ENGAGEMENT:

  • In education, we have emphasized the importance of students listening to teachers, but we have often missed a key correlation between teachers listening to students and the students’ ENGAGEMENT in and ownership of their learning.
  • Additionally, we have often minimized the correlation between students listening to other students in creating a culture of ENGAGEMENT in our classrooms.
  • As teachers, we can get so caught up in what we need to say that we miss opportunities to hear our students and create ample moments for them to hear each other and collaborate.

Definition of Value = Satisfaction and Perceived Benefits/Actual and Psychological Costs

Centering Our Work:

Whenever we greet them, laugh with them, connect with them, are kind to them, we are affirming their place in the SGIS community. The value of this part of our work cannot be overestimated.

 We must:

  • Deserve the support we seek
  • Have faith in students before they have it in themselves

 Choosing the School:

  • We will be the right school for teachers who strive to put the needs of each student dead center, every day, every class, every interaction.
  • We will be the right school for teachers who want to challenge their own practice whenever there is an opportunity to serve students better.
  • We will be the right school for teachers who, though their participation in departments, grade levels, divisions, etc., model the characteristics of great collaborators and colleagues.
  • We will be the right school for teachers who are ready to be the reason that a student and family should choose our school.
  • We will be the right school for teachers who are deeply aligned with our strategic plan and are earnestly committed to moving it forward.
  • We will be the right school for teachers who reach out not only to the students who make it easy on them, but also to all those who don’t.
  • We will be the right school for teachers who pitch in when they can, however they can.
  • Finally, we will be the right school for teachers who strive to be the sort of people we describe in the Portrait of a Graduate.

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