How do you bring a group of individuals together to work towards a
common goal when the goal itself seems almost unattainable? Even better, when
you successfully accomplish this, how do you capture and explain the feeling
that is created?
For example, for over 200 years, men, women, and children have been
coming together to take part in a competition that sees teams of 300 – 400
people working together to build human towers. These towers, known as Castells,
can reach incredible heights, as high as 15 meters. The goal of this
competition is to create and carefully disassemble the tallest tower, however,
the mission is to do this carefully. What is so incredible is that the members
become smaller and younger the higher up the tower reaches, children as young as
four years old have been invited to scale the human structure while their
parents watch from the stands. As a father of four children aged 12, 8, and 5
(twins), I cannot even imagine the feeling those parents must have as their
little ones climb higher and higher. To achieve such an incredible feat
requires an unwavering commitment to the process and a belief in the team. I
think about how each member must commit to the people beside and above them
while trusting those people supporting them. It is a shared belief that as a
group they can achieve the seemingly impossible.
When I think about these builders and their mission, I reminded of our team at #WaldheimSchool. This year we have welcomed many new members to our family, and I think about how we support Jade, Dan, Katie, Mitchell, Briane, Chenille, Samantha, Bailey, and Brandi as they figure out what it means to be a part of such a committed group of professionals. I see how seamlessly they have become part of the fabric of our learning community and I recognise how this reveals their character. While this does speak to their character, it also speaks very loudly to the character of the rest of the staff that has welcomed them with open arms. We are a strong family that supports one another, believes in one another, and counts on one another.
This year we have been reflecting on and discussing our beliefs and practices as they relate to assessment of and for learning. As a staff, we have continued to look at ways to deepen our understanding of our students, trying to develop a clearer picture of who we are working with, and in which zone they are operating. Together, we continue to try to know our students. As a staff, we are continuing to learn how to work together and continue to learn how to learn together.
In his Visible Learning Study, John Hattie has revealed that the most significant impact on student learning is collective teacher efficacy (CTE). This year we have been involved in the heavy lifting of reflecting on and refining our assessment practices as a way to strengthen our CTE. In doing so, we are finding that together we can accomplish incredible things. I’m so excited to see how we ‘flex our CTE muscles’ as we seek to deepen our understanding and strengthen our practices as they relate to things like parent engagement, reconciliation, student engagement, literacy & numeracy rates, inclusion, and graduation rates.
An experienced builder, Michael Entecott, was asked why he is a Castell builder, and it was his response that made me smile. He said, “this is a very complex question, and I don’t really have an answer. You can’t explain it. It is impossible to explain. You have to feel it. If you feel it, you understand it.”
I have had opportunities this year to explain our adult learning process to other people. I have been able to share with others the incredible work every single adult at our school is waist deep in this year. I have been able to highlight some of the fantastic things we have done and some of the dreams we have for the future. What I have noticed, however, is that I can’t adequately explain how it has all come together. I can share the why, what, and how, but I can’t really get them to understand the power of what we are doing as a team. I can tell them about the conversations that are happening and how adults and students are talking about assessment and the impact it has. I can say to them all these things, but I can’t get them to really understand it. I can tell them how a group of individuals has come together to accomplish incredible things, but I can’t make them understand it.
If they could feel it, then they could understand it.
Here’s what is on the horizon this week.
PD/Prep Day (see Jesse’s e-mail regarding learning agenda for the day)