S1 E4 - How Many Feet Does Your School Have on the Bus?

Stepping onto Bus

In this week's episode I explored the concept of making sure that you have both feet on the bus. To understand what I mean by that, we need to know what it means to be 'on the bus'.

This idea of the bus was something that occurred to me a few years ago. It was the idea that we're all moving in the same direction, that everybody is welcome and that we are part of a network of primary teachers and leaders committed to advocating for the right of every child to be taught to read with evidence-informed teaching practice. We do this by continually developing our skills and knowledge through quality professional learning, dialogue with other teachers and actively participating in our education community. It doesn't mean that we have to be an expert. It doesn't mean that we have to be perfect to be on the bus. What it does mean is that we need to embrace explicit teaching and all that comes with that?

Being on the bus means teaching explicitly. 

We know we are teaching explicitly when we: 

1) Regularly check whether students have understood what we have taught

2) Maximise teacher guided instruction

3) Enable students to practice and review what they have learned

4) Ensure that we are being both explicit AND intentional in our teaching.  Intention alone will not lead to high levels of student learning. 

Half measures will not get us the results we are looking for

Half measures are a nonsense. I don't mean if you are taking things slowly, step by step, working with your team, building capacity and adjusting things over a couple of years that you're doing a bad job. That's actually great practice.  However, half measures that say, "We bought decodable texts, or we got X, Y, Z program into the school. Job done!" are just not going to get strong results for all students.

So many of us are looking for that one big thing that's going to move the needle.  But rather than think in terms of one big thing, what if we have one big idea that we make all of our decisions through? When we have a focused way of thinking, and an idea to filter our decisions through, our decisions are actually quite a bit easier. When we have two feet on the bus, we are unapologetically committed to adopting the evidence-informed practices that are going to move the needle on student results. Not just for our top few students or a few kids in the middle; I mean for everybody.

How do we get everyone to put two feet on the bus?

We are all sales people and influencers in one way or another.  This graphic below helps us match our actions to the needs of our team 

Helping Others Join the Bus.png

Adapting to change can be similar to a grieving process

Kubler-Ross PowerPoint Model For BusinessAccess this image here

We must recognize that there is nuance in the conversations we have about change and committing to structured literacy. I don't think we can say that there is one single roadmap to shift practice that can be applied to every school. There are different considerations depending on whether this is a school-leader-led proposal or whether it's coming from the classroom level. Ultimately, we all want what's best for students, and we all wanna see student growth. We are not going to see that, however, with half measures and only having one foot on the bus.

As an individual, you can influence and you can support, but ultimately our leadership has to be knowledgeable; they have to know why it matters. They have to lead; they have to make decisions so that your school can have a shared vision of that one big idea through which you will view everything that you're doing in your change process. Ideally, that's around being fully committed to implementing evidence-informed practice from the science of reading and learning so that we can maximize time on task, maximize student learning, and ultimately positively impact students as they make their way through their life.

If you are looking for simple to access professional learning so that you can meet your teachers at their point of need, you might consider becoming an Evergreen Teacher member school.  Learn more here

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