“During times of change, it is important to lean into our values. Doing so helps us to remain grounded and true to our vision of what a quality education looks and feels like... and building a classroom and school culture is more than merely instituting a set of practices. As useful as practices like thinking routines, documentation, and effective questioning can be, culture runs deeper. Culture is built on our values and beliefs and embedded in the messages we send. Thus, deep and lasting transformation must begin by embracing a set of beliefs about teaching, learning, and schooling.” ~Harvard Graduate School of Education
How might our beliefs about the capability of students impact the learning opportunities we create? How can our beliefs help us navigate complexity and uncertainty?
It is important to begin with your beliefs about teaching and learning so that you can create a learning environment that reflects your hopes and dreams for your students.
When we take the time to reflect and make this thinking visible to ourselves, and we set intentions to create this type of learning environment, the decisions that we make will reflect our beliefs. It might also be important to share your intentions with others (colleagues, families...). As you will see below, some educators in our district are doing this by writing and sharing intention letters.
GALLERY: BELIEFS IN THE CENTRAL OKANAGAN
THINKING ABOUT & MAKING OUR BELIEFS VISIBLE
Recognizing How Our Beliefs About Learning Shape Our Actions
Before we begin to make decisions about the actions we are going to take around teaching and learning, it is important that we pause to reflect on what we believe about teaching and learning, because whether we are aware of it or not, these beliefs underpin every single decision we make.
"Our beliefs underpin the moves we make as teachers, [therefore...], by reflecting on and naming our beliefs, we can honestly strive to bring them to life as practice. [...] Ongoing reflection on the relationship between our actions and beliefs helps us teach with intentionality."
~ Mills & O'Keefe (2015)
Starting With Beliefs & Intentions for Learning
Letters of Intent are letters that educators can write at the beginning of the year. We write these letters to clarify for ourselves, and others, what our
beliefs about learning and teaching are.
Writing our intentions also helps us to think about, and make visible, the big and small questions that we want to explore with our students throughout the year as we learn about things that our students care about.
This allows us to think about the learning without predetermining the pathways that will guide our explorations.
Click here to see samples created with educators across our district.
of the Learner
To create rich, inquiry learning environments, we have to trust our students. When educators believe that students are capable, competent, resourceful, intelligent, imaginative, creative, full of curiosity, and interested in and capable of exploring complex and abstract ideas, they have high expectations of what students can do. Students can contemplate questions about big, complex ideas. These explorations allow students to continue to see connections and make meaning of the world, and their role in it.
"The beliefs we hold as teachers shape the beliefs children take up about themselves as learners, the learning process, and the world around them. "
~ Mills & O'Keefe (2015)