Special report from HPL associate director Jeremy Reynolds
 
Our GEMS HPL schools, which began in September 2017, are now one term into their Award journey and making very good progress. The schools are Jumeirah College, Jumeirah Primary School, Royal Dubai School and Wellington International School, four of the highest performing and most visionary of the GEMS schools in Dubai and their individual variety and character is a great strength and feeds into a clearly emerging and mutually supportive group identity. As is a common approach to the HPL Award, each school is implementing things in a different way and with the first term of strategic planning and organisational setup behind them, the four GEMS schools have very exciting plans for the rest of this academic year. Currently completing my first monitoring visit to Dubai, including a group meeting plus visits to each individual Award school, it is brilliant to report back on what has been achieved and is being planned. 
 
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HPL has been launched with staff at Jumeirah Primary School and the Award has been received enthusiastically, with the school absolutely in the right position to embrace all that is involved. There is an emphasis on students taking ownership of their own learning and seeking to achieve highly  - e.g. with the school-wide phrase used in classrooms  "Do it, use it own it"; other changes include an end to grouping by ability in Maths. The school is looking at how the HPL language of learning can tie into what is already in use and there is an understanding of how HPL will develop new areas and deepen existing ones. There is interest in how the ACP and VAA progression levels can help here and parents have been been made aware of the school's Award journey.
 
 Rachel from Jumeirah Primary talks about how they have begun to implement HPL throughout the school.

Meeting with Jumeirah College's HPL Steering Group yielded a very interesting and productive discussion on how this group of staff could lead the way in the early stages of the school's adoption of HPL and ideas were given on how best to launch into the 'play and practice' strategy with ACPs and VAAs. Tracking the effectiveness and impact of HPL was very much in focus and one member of staff at the school has developed an interesting online approach for doing this that could well have wider applications.
 
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GEMS Royal Dubai School, a primary school in a very different part of Dubai, with a larger Emirati pupil population of 18%, is again in exactly the right space for HPL, with their total emphasis on the quality of pupil learning. We were able to plan a very useful way in which the competencies and skills developed through HPL will tie in with the school's widely adopted 'Learning Wave' approach. At RDS, some very eloquent pupils were able to articulate the spirit, if not yet the language, of HPL!
 
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 My school visits concluded at Wellington International School, where lessons observed showed how much fertile ground there is for HPL to take root and the working group assembled is very enthusiastic and raring to get fully underway; the school also has planned an innovative HPL mentoring project involving Year 8 students in developing their understanding of specific ACPs in their lessons. The school intends to 'walk the walk' with HPL and both primary and secondary are united in embracing all aspects of their Award journey.
 
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In their different approaches, albeit with many similarities, the four GEMS schools are fully engaged on their HPL Award journeys and everything augurs so well for the next stages. Already, we are seeing the possibilities of this group being the trailblazers for hopefully other GEMS schools taking on HPL in the near future and it is a fantastic group of schools to be working with.
 

In November, HPL was profiled to Ministers of Education and Health from Latin America and the Caribbean. The Washington DC-based Inter-American Development Bank chose HPL as its example of the way in which education can and should be altered to respond to our new knowledge around executive functioning emerging from Neuro-Science and psychology. 

The event, hosted by IDB and the ALAS Foundation, was titled "Using the Brain's Building Blocks to Transform Early Childhood Policy" and featured TED-type talks and discussions between prominent international policy leaders, academics and entrepreneurs on how policies can make us better thinkers and decision-makers.

Deborah's talk focused on how we can prepare children for lifelong success through improving schools and teaching practices, and you can watch it by clicking the image below (opens in new window).

ALAS IBID video

 

As the New Year arrives we reflect on our lives and our expectations of the year to come. Teachers and students think about the challenges they face and resolve to do better. To raise their game and expect more.

I don’t recall ever hearing a teacher talk to me about aiming low and expecting little, but actions speak louder than words and sometimes what we say in school and what we do are in conflict.

What does it look like when we say we have ‘High expectations for our students’ but our policies and practices add the invisible subtext: ‘... but not for all of them!”?

Grouping children with other children we believe are of similarly limited ability, and giving them simplified materials and tasks so that they don’t encounter too much challenge and become discouraged.

Not everyone has had the same opportunities to develop the values and attitudes they need for success nor to learn the cognitive competences to tackle more challenging work. High expectations would expect, and believe, that they can rise to the challenge if we provide these opportunities both frequently and regularly. Low challenge plus low skill equals boredom.

Rewarding some children for staying on task all lesson and not shouting out and rewarding others very rarely because their work is always of the highest quality.

Children’s expectations of themselves are shaped, in part, by our expectations of them. High expectations recognise and reward the steps towards high performance and challenge children to move beyond simple compliance.

Choosing to study “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” with the top group and “Of Mice and Men” with the middle group.

Having high expectations would expect all our students to enjoy the greatest stories and the most beautiful language. We know some might need support to develop the skills to do this – but that’s our job!

Talking about “middle-ability boys” and thinking about how we might help staff to identify and support them.

High Performance Learning assumes that ability is not fixed and we have, therefore, to assume that potential is limitless. Having high expectations assumes that whatever ability we see now can be augmented by our teaching and students’ learning.

Eliding predictions and targets so that children, based on where they are now, spend several years under our care working towards a “target” that’s below the expected standards.

Children attend school for at least 11 years. High expectations assume that over that period, we will have a profound and measurable impact on the values, attitudes and attributes and cognitive performance characteristics that a child arrives with. If we don’t target success, and plan for it with each child, we are, in truth, expecting little of ourselves.

Teachers talk about high expectations of children is because we all know it makes a difference. Research demonstrates time and again that:

What we expect = what we do

What we do = what we get

(see this link to The Pygmalion Effect: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJymYT_AkIc).

When what we expect is to be disappointed, that affects what we do every day in how we plan and deliver education in school. 

When we expect high performance, then we plan for it through our practice and our policies.

As a result, we get what we thought we’d get… and so do our students.

6 ways to make yours a high performance learning home

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Parents can play a huge role in helping their kids to fulfil their academic potential, and advanced learning expert Professor Deborah Eyre and education journalist Wendy Berliner, authors of the new book Great Minds and How to Grow Them, believe they know just what parents need to do. Here are Berliner and Eyre's tips to help your child to fulfil their academic potential.

As Eyre and Berliner explain, the latest neurological and psychological research shows most children are capable of reaching the high levels of performance previously associated only with the gifted and talented. They stress that IQ and potential isn't fixed - evidence shows it can be grown, and the key is developing the right learning attitudes and attributes.

The vast majority of children could do really well at school, but unless parents play their part and help them learn the habits of high performance, they're far less likely to get there. Here are 6 practical things that parents can do:

1. Encourage resilience

Children who do well at school aren't put off by failing - they keep trying until they get better. Your job when a child says they're rubbish or can't do something is to make them believe in themselves and keep going.

Don't say: Let me do it for you.

Do say: I know it's hard now, but you can do this if you keep trying.

2. Encourage planning and monitoring

Knowing how they're doing - that they're on track with their homework, for example - and knowing they need to put more effort into improving certain things, is very important to high performers.

Don't say: Just start somewhere and muddle along.

Do say: How are you going to tackle this? Do you know you're on track? How can you tell you're doing it right?

3. Encourage open-mindedness

Being open to new ideas is the hallmark of an advanced learner. Start with being open-minded yourself, and model what it's like to be receptive to ideas that differ from your own.

Don't say: What a stupid idea.

Do say: Isn't that interesting? I never thought of that, but that's such a good approach.

4. Encourage practice

It's the only way to get better. Make sure it's regular, deliberate and planned practice, working towards achievable incremental goals, and that your child practises what he/she can't do until they can do it well.

Don't say: You've been practising long enough now, do something else.

Do say: You're really good at that now, what's the next step up?

5. Encourage curiosity

Curiosity is at the heart of all learning and the link with high performance is compelling, so encourage questions and model curiosity yourself. Your job is to answer your children's questions initially and then later encourage them to find out the answers themselves.

Don't say: Stop asking so many questions.

Do say: I wonder why ...?

6. Encourage critical or logical thinking

The characteristic most associated with academic success is the ability to deduct, hypothesise, reason and seek evidence - Sherlock Holmes is your model for this.

Don't say: Why are you interested in that? Who cares?

Do say: Why do you think that happened? How could you work it out?

 

Professor Deborah Eyre and Wendy Berliner

 

originally published on Doha College blog: http://www.dohacollege.com/blog/entry/276

 

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