Creating Cultures of Thinking: An Amazing PD Experience

I (Clare) blogged in a previous post that I am incoming Director of the Jackman Institute of Child Studies. http://www.oise.utoronto.ca/ics/ JICS includes a lab school, teacher education program, and research centre. It is truly an amazing place!

Last week I had an opportunity to attend the Lab School teachers’ faculty meeting. They 618L8vDZYNL._SX376_BO1,204,203,200_had a week of PD and central to their activities was reading and discussing the text Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools by Ron Ritchhart. http://www.amazon.ca/Creating-Cultures-Thinking-Transform-Schools/dp/1118974603/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1442084403&sr=8-1&keywords=Ron+Ritchhart

The teachers had read the book over the summer and were reporting on chapters, selecting key quotes, and discussing implications for their practice. This was truly PD at its best – the teachers were thoughtful, involved, and relating theory to their practice. Under the leadership of the principal Richard Messina so much learning occurred and the community was strengthened.

Below are a few quotes they selected from Ritchhart’s text which I found very inspiring:

“…when both teachers and students have the expectation, or mindset, that one gets smarter through one’s efforts, then challenge and mistakes can be embraced as learning opportunities.” p. 7

“…traditional academic skills…do not adequately define the kind of students we collectively hope to send into the world. Nor do they define the kind of employee [skills] businesses are looking for…professionalism, work ethic, collaboration, communication, ethics, social responsibility, critical thinking, and problem solving…” p. 17

“…in a learning-oriented classroom, teachers and students focus their attention on the learning as a priority, letting the work exist in context and serve the learning.” p. 45

“…lots of new teachers, and perhaps some experienced ones, struggle with learning to listen, yet listening is one of the powerful ways we show respect for and interest in our people’s thinking.” p. 82

“for classrooms to be cultures of thinking for students, schools must be cultures of thinking for the adults” p. 102

Being part of a school where teachers are decision-makers, expert educators, treated as intellectuals, and work collaboratively is a true honour. I suspect there are going to be many more blogs about what I am learning at JICS.

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