Curriculum is King!

Curriculum is King!

One of the threads that came through over the past two weeks is the importance of curriculum. It came out particularly in two ways.

Firstly, it came out in discussions with Josh Goodrich and Peps Mccrea following the Instructional Coaching Intensive. Within the intensive, Josh shared an Instructional Coaching diagnosis model that he has developed, and that we have since built on through some pretty involved chats.

In short, the model uses Willingham's simple model of memory as a basis for identifying whether coaching should ideally target attention, clear instructions, deepening thought, or creating lasting changes in long-term memory. As we dug a little deeper, we realised that something probably comes before all of this… curriculum. If what students are attending to, thinking about, and burning into long-term memory isn't the best of what's been thought and said, then we're probably all really wasting our time!

Steps 1, 2, 3, 4 are what Josh touches on in his diagnosis blog.

The second time that curriculum came clearly to the fore was during Ben Jensen's presentation at SOLLA. A lot was covered, but my main takeaway was probably this slide, which I'll explain a bit more below.

What this slide captures is the idea that putting a better mathematics curriculum in front of students can have a larger effect than putting a better mathematics teacher in front of them*. The other important thing to think about here is that it's a lot easier and cheaper to put a better maths curriculum in front of students than it is to move a teacher from the 50th to 75th percentile!

The bottom line, from both my discussions with Josh and Peps on the plane to Ben's presentation, and from Ben's presentation, is that quality curriculum resources are probably the first lever to pull when we're trying to raise student achievement.

This aligns really well with my own experience too, and I have written previously about how a collective approach to developing curriculum resources led to some fantastic year 12 maths results at my school last year too!

It also aligns well with Ballarat Clarendon College's phenomenal results (topping the Victorian state), and the correlation of these results with the fact that they have the most refined and prescriptive curriculum that I've seen in an Australian highschool (which I wrote about last time).

In summary, it's a pretty safe bet that curriculum is king. Have you started by pulling the curriculum lever yet?

*a broad comment, see the paper for the specifics of course, and I'll write/speak about this with Ben in more detail in the near future!).

Please have a listen and do let me know what you think : )

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The last two weeks - an update

The week before last was a big one!

Here are a few highlights…

Saturday – researchED Ballarat: I already shared my main takeaways here, so no need to recount them , but I hope you enjoyed them in the last email out, or check them out above if you missed them.

Monday – Steplab Instructional Coaching Intensive with the Crowther Centre: This was a phenomenal day where myself, Josh Gooodrich, Peps Mccrea and Dr. Mark Dowley worked super hard to deliver the best and most high-value instructional coaching PD to ever hit Aussie shores! I'm willing to tenatatively claim that we may have achieved our goal, and we had many people come up to us at the end and say that it's the best PD they had ever attended (and that they also worked harder than they ever had before too!). If you missed it, we're hoping to offer similar training in the near future, both in person and online, so watch this space : ) (and these emails, I'll be sure to announce it here).

Here's a bit more about Steplab and Instructional Coaching.

Tuesday – Surfing lesson with Kev: Peps and Josh wanted to see a bit of what Aus had to offer (apart from passionate educators) so we went down to Torquay and had a surf lesson with ‘Kev' from Torquay Surf Academy… can recommend!

Thursday and Friday – Science of Learning Leadership Accelerator: This was a fantastic two days with presenters from all around Australia and run by Knowledge Society, the crew who helped to set up the inspiring Catalyst project. I particularly enjoyed Ben Jensen's presentation on the importance of curriculum (more on this below) . It was also great to be able to catch up with Tom Rees from the Ambition Institute, and especially to hear him talk about what school leadership expertise is and how to develop it.

It was a massive week and it left me with some significant sleep debt (which started the Saturday before last when I sent you all that midnight email!) but it was well worth it. It was great to meet lots of ERRR listeners too, thanks for coming up and saying hi, you know who you are

Announcements and Opportunities

  • Catholic Ed Tasmania is running the Teaching Matters: Science of Learning National Summit in Tasmania from April 2nd to 4th. I plan to be there, along with a heap of other speakers like Pamela Snow, Brooke Wardana, Noel Pearson, Dr. Lorraine Hammond, Toni Hatten-Roberts and Michale Roberts, Peps Mccrea, and many more! Should be a fun and learning-filled few days!

This week in Ollie's Learning (Takeaways)

  • For an excellent guide covering what Instructional Coaching is, a summary of the research evidence for Instructional Coaching, guidance for how to set up coaching in a school, advice on how to select and train great coaches, and more, check out the Steplab Beginner's Guide to Instructional Coaching.

  • I'm re-listening to this phenomenally inspiring EconTalk podcast with Roland Fryer on Education Reform. Honestly, it's so inspiring. If you haven't listened, or even if you have, check it out!

  • Check out Jennifer Barker and Tom Rees' article on School Leadership Expertise: What it is and how do we develop it?

  • I just released a member's only episode of the Education Research Reading Room podcast with Ingrid Sealey from Teachwell. Ingrid shared insights from a recent trip to Germany and several weeks spent in the German education system. I got a LOT from our chats! Find out more here (it's the post from March 1st)

  • Quote:

    • ‘Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted' – Randy Pausch

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