In Brief – When you are planning a new idea in education just take a moment to run through each of the letters in REORDER and check you have covered every aspect so that your project is not tripped up later.
Day to day management occupies such a considerable amount of time that you have to formally set aside time for development work or it would just never happen, or would end up being reactive; just making changes in response to problems that have arisen. There is a saying that if you don’t take the time to buy fire extinguishers you could spend your whole life stamping out the fires!
Try taking a look at each of the REORDER aspects and see if there is a clear area of weakness in your whole school or your own classroom teaching.
OR set up a cycle in which you focus on developing one REORDER aspect per year
OR seek the views of your community as to the aspect that requires most work
I would avoid the strategy of having one target from each REORDER category each year as the most you should ever focus on is 3 or 4 clear goals. Having said this, it is possible to set a whole school goal and then challenge different people in your school or team to focus their work around any REORDER aspect they wish. Some examples of such larger goals appear below.
- Learner voice – If your vision is to have students more actively engaged as partners in the learning process and the design of their own learning then you will tend to apply REORDER with this thread running through it. Please visit the Learner Voice Worked Example for a detailed illustration of what I mean by this.
- Personalisation – Clearly the vision of every school is to support the different needs of every student but if you have decided to focus on this as your key priority then you may apply REORDER with this clear theme running through it. Please visit the Personalisation Worked example for a detailed illustration of what I mean by this.
- Collaborative – If your vision is for education to involve more co-operation and team work. This includes the local community where possible.
- Authentic learning – your vision is to make as much learning as possible directly relevant to the learner and where possible chosen by them
- Problem based learning – your vision is to prepare learners for a world in which the most important skill is their ability to solve problems
- Values based learning – your vision is that all learners develop respect, tollerance and awareness of others so they make good ethical decisions – I have included faith based visions in here in order to be inclusive
- Sustainable futures – in your vision there is nothing more important than sustaining the environment and so this is the oveall vision driving your work.
- Challenge based learning – in your vision learners need to have high aspiration and set themselves challenges that they can then gain support for. These are sometimes called missions
Key Terms to be aware of #1 – ACT (Now)
By far the most effective change is achieved when teams come up with the detail themselves through determined and long term continuous improvement.
There are many models available for such long term improvement but all generally involve a ‘plan – do – review’ type approach. I have tried to take the key elements of all the best school improvement systems I can find and build them into a single model which I have called ACT (Achieving Change through Teams). I have devoted a separate site to this process and if you wish to use all or part of it then please visit this link – Achieving Change through Teams.
Key Terms to be aware of #2 – Ladders
A vision is an ideal position so it it can’t be achieved in one year or one step. In order to get a sense of achievement and progression you may need to define a series of milestones between where you are today and your ideal vision. I have called such sets of milestones ‘LADDERS’. I have arrange all of the pages in the worked examples as ladders so that you can choose the step (or rung) that best fit your current needs.
Once you have ladders in place it is possible to recognise the progress you are making and make sure everyone is on board. I have set up a separate site to collect together examples of ladders I have created. These can be viewed at www.learningbyladders.wordpress.com. There are examples of ladders I have used with learners, teachers and for whole school change. There are also instructions for creating your own ladders.
For a whole school approach you can set up seven working groups involving students and teachers, each one focussed on a different REORDER element. The leaders from each of these groups meet together regularly to check there is general alignment.
Key Terms to be aware of #3 – SECRET
Often schools and teachers talk about essential skills. They are called different things in different places. They have a bewildering number of names even though they all actually talk about the same skills. Their names include; personal learning and thinking skills, habits of mind, 21st century skills, essential learnings, core competencies, general capabilities, key competencies etc. Throughout this site I have used the SECRET set as I have found it to be the best summary of all of these. Click here to see primary students explaining what this set is and for more detailed descriptions of exactly what is meant by each of the letters of SECRET.
Key Terms to be aware of #4 – SHARED VISION
I have visited hundreds of effective schools in over 30 countries. The list below represents a summary of what their vision statements have in common. More detailed examples are also provided.
- The vision relates to learners and how they learn. (i.e. it is not about equipment, teachers or buildings and should not really mention them)
- The vision is short enough for every member of the school community to remember.
- It is measurable so that progress towards it can be evaluated
- It should be possible to apply it to every subject, every classroom and every aspect of school life