Visible Learning is something that all students and staff in the Greenfield Exempted Village School District began to get to know this school year, and it will help everyone not only see, but understand their own way of learning and teaching.
The initiative is based on the worldwide, years-long research of professor John Hattie.
The implementation of the program is part of administrators working “to create a strong learning culture within all aspects of the district,” GEVSD Director of Instruction Alisa Barrett said.
“Through data analysis and student interviews districtwide, we have discovered that students know how to be a good student, but struggle to describe characteristics of a good learner. The work of Visible Learning teaches staff and students how to utilize learner dispositions, self-assess their learning, select strategies for learning, and use feedback to improve. We believe each of these areas will greatly improve our students’ learning experiences and prepare them for college and their future careers.”
The learner dispositions are the first step in implementing Visible Learning, Barrett said. Those learner dispositions are: taking ownership, embracing challenges, persevering, continually growing, and being engaged.
“Being a good student by demonstrating good behavior is important for the management of our schools and classrooms,” Barrett said. “However, equally as important is knowing and demonstrating the qualities of good learners by students and staff members.”
The specific learning dispositions, the language and understanding of what they are, is being taught and practiced through all grade levels including preschool.
The district’s Visible Learning plan, Barrett said, is multi-year, and it is during this first year that the focus will be on learner dispositions and clarity in teaching and learning. She said this was the foundation of “creating visible learners.”
She described clarity in teaching as teachers dissecting and analyzing what is required for grade-level and content standards, and then using that information to create students’ educational experiences and assessments. Clarity for students, she said, is when students know what they are learning and know the steps to being successful in their learning.
Those statements, according to Barrett, are called learning intentions and success criteria. Students engage in learning intentions and success criteria before, during and after the learning and through conversations and self-assessment activities.
“When students know what they are learning and how to be successful in that learning, they have clarity,” she said.
All staff members, including support staff, administrators and teachers, have participated in professional development to learn about Visible Learning, learner dispositions and clarity. Weekly teacher-based team meetings are also centered around these concepts, Barrett said. Additionally, through these meetings, staff “are also demonstrating learner dispositions by continually growing and working together.”
Feedback has been positive, Barrett said, adding that staff are “committed to building a culture of learning and believe this is the right direction for our district.”
She spoke of the importance of developing the plan with the consistency of the language used with students through all grade levels.
“This work began with a very strong District Leadership Team and will continue to be guided by this team as our district moves through the plan,” Barrett said.
At the school board’s September meeting, Rainsboro Elementary Principal Maggie Lyons said of the plan that the district is on a “journey to change the educational culture.”
“Here at Rainsboro, we make a big deal about it,” Lyons said, adding that students get a sticker to wear stating the accomplished learning disposition and that encourages others to ask the student how they accomplished it and to talk about it.
The same thing is being done at the district’s other elementary buildings
Superintendent Quincey Gray said the initiative is exciting and has been a way to focus everyone, especially with everything that has been going on this year.
“We are excited about the opportunity to implement these important learner dispositions as part of our Visible Learning Plan,” Gray said. “Students in all grades and buildings in the district will be able to strengthen their learning skills, which will in turn impact their future success as adults.”
Angela Shepherd is a correspondent for the Greenfield Exempted Village School District.