Start with the Why
Motivational speaker Simon Sinek speaks in his Ted Talk about "Starting with the Why" as they way that great leaders motivate their organisations. His talk is quite inspirational and gives a new perspective on how to look at leadership. You can watch it by following this link.
His approach makes sense in the business world, but it is also very relevant within the context of education. As a Principal it is very important that I continue to focus on the 'why' of everything we do, that drives the 'how' and the 'what'. It is also crucial that teachers are able to do the same in the classrooms they lead, in order to motivate, engage and inspire their students.
21st century students are far greater critical thinkers, discerning consumers and controllers of their own destinies than any students that have gone before them. In an online, connected world, our students have enormous options when it comes to entertainment, areas of interest, research materials or anything else they are involved in.
Therefore it is crucial that in the classroom we are able to capture student attention, engagement and motivation in order to gain rich learning outcomes. Students don't want to just know what they are learning or how they will learn it, they need to know why.
The 'why' of each individual learning task or unit of work can vary, but as a staff we are wholly committed to providing a 'why' that is meaningful. One of the most powerful ways we can do this is by using 'I can' statements with the students. This breaks the curriculum down into student-friendly statements (ie 'I can order 2 digit numbers from smallest to largest'). This gives the student context for their learning, it helps them to set their goals and it gives them context for the next stage of their learning. When they see the goals that lie ahead, it gives an explanation for why they are doing their current task. At the moment we have introduced this use of 'I can' statements in Numeracy and this will be expanded into other curriculum areas ove time.