Interview with the curator of the Managerial hundred days program for school teachers

After graduating from MSSES, Ekaterina Kukso switched from business consulting to working with teachers in regional schools. There, she introduces the Managerial hundred days methodology, which allows teachers to analyze their work in the classroom and improve their students` success. Today, hundreds of schools across Russia use the methodology, the implementation of which is supervised by Ekaterina.

While studying in MSSES, I wrote a dissertation based on the study of the social capital of schools and preschool educational institutions. "Managerial Hundred days" is an applied development of that research. Teachers and school leaders take part in it and receive an automated report on how teachers interact with each other. We form management models and recommendations to improve this interaction and make it useful for students.

Schools and pre-school institutions implement our curatorial methodology within 3 months, so we call it the "Managerial Hundred Days". It is aimed at enabling teachers to study and learn from each other, to reformat methodological work at school from outdated models that don`t solve the tasks assigned to them, to more effective ones.

For example, teachers are given the task of seeing which of the students their colleague calls to the blackboard, who he addresses to in class. To do this, the observer has a class plan where they capture this data. When they then analyze the observation sheet together with the supervisor, it is clear that the teacher doesn`t interact with the entire class, but only with a very limited area of it. If you ask them to indicate in absentia on the class plan the students who were present at the lesson, and indicate which of them belongs to the successful, who — to the average, and who to the laggards, it becomes clear that for the teacher it is more pleasant and easier to work only with strong students — those who are physically in the foreground (sitting in the first rows). This naturally leads to discrimination against other students, who, in fact, need more attention.

As a result, children who are less active in the classroom or are less liked by teachers are falling further behind year after year. There is a so-called Matthew effect, when children, already deprived of the attention of the teacher, are completely out of sight. In the language of economics, this is called " the poor get poorer, and the rich get richer."

It is more pleasant and easier for a teacher to work only with strong students — those who stretch their hand and are physically in the foreground. This naturally leads to discrimination against other students

One of the main prerequisites of our curatorial methodology is to shift the focus to what happens to students. In fact, this is an axiom that has been known since the 1960s: the teacher interacts more often with those children whom they, conditionally, consider "their own", not intentionally. Such subconscious discrimination.

A few years ago, when we were testing the protocols, I attended a physics lesson with a distinguished teacher in Moscow. For her, our protocols became a kind of challenge — it turned out that in the class there was a certain Tikhon, a C- student who always vegetates somewhere in the back of the desk and is not interested in what is happening in the lesson. According to the protocol, it became clear that during the lesson she never addressed him. And I decided to fix this situation for myself.

In the case of Tikhon, this had a huge effect. Just the fact that the teacher began to pay more attention, for example, gave the opportunity to read the problem, answer, led to the fact that the student completely blossomed, moved from C-students to B-ones, asked for books on physics, began to write laboratory works well and entered college in computer sciencein a couple of years. This is an indicative individual effect of the introduction of curatorial methods in the school. It involves not so much control as learning in an atmosphere of trust, creating a culture and practice of trust in the school.

As a rule, we select pairs of teachers, and to them — a curator. The curator plays the role of a mediator: he doesn`t attend the teachers' classes, but organizes their subsequent discussions. This is what distinguishes our methodology from the classic mentoring models: teachers themselves analyze each other's work, using special monitoring protocols.

How, say, does traditional supervision work? Someone from the school administration comes to an open lesson every six months and at the end says whether he liked it or not. In this case, the feedback is limited to recommendations, for example, to explain more slowly or not to sit at the table for the entire lesson.

When we observe a specific aspect and do it based on specific data, the conclusions are more meaningful than the interpretations in the like/dislike range. What is important here is that teachers receive them from their colleagues, and the curator only helps to find the attitude to the established facts: how they would like - or, on the contrary, would not like - to change the situation, what pedagogical techniques can help in this, etc.

Despite the fact that the schools officially report that the educational standards have been implemented, everyone understands that the lesson is what it was, and remains so.

The school's management team also takes part in the hundred-day event. Every week, the director and the head teacher receive tasks — to pick up pairs (teachers), agree on their schedule, choose a supervisor, agree on a set of protocols for monitoring, hold a demonstration meeting — and so on for all 3 months.

We spent about 15 hundred day programs — about 400 schools and 1500 — 2000 teachers took part in them. Many of those who have mastered the curatorial methodology and implemented its results at their school are now acting as curators themselves. One hundred day programs can be held simultaneously in 15 to 50 educational institutions, with 4-5 people from each. Usually this is the director, the head teacher, their deputy, someone from the administrative staff or leading teachers.

In fact, the Russian education standards are based on the idea of active learning - that the student should be active, that the lesson is not a solo performance of the teacher, but primarily the inner work of the student. But despite the fact that the schools officially report that these standards have been implemented, everyone understands that the lesson is what it was, and remains so. This is clear from our protocols: the student is not the most active participant in the lesson.

In 1964, the American sociologist James Coleman, on behalf of the US National Commission on Education, conducted a study, the results of which showed that school plays a very small role in the success of a child in learning. Social factors, such as the socio-economic status of the student`s parents, were much stronger. In the 1970s, his compatriot Robert Rosenthal described a psychological phenomenon called the Pygmalion effect. It boils down to the fact that expectations in relation to a person determine the nature of their actions and the interpretation of the attitude of others. This means that the less the teacher interacts with the student, considering them hopeless, the more likely it is that they will follow these expectations.

If teachers don`t know how to interact with each other, set specific goals and give feedback, then there are no prerequisites for them to be able to do this with students

Rosenthal's discovery echoed Coleman's research — they gave rise to the TESA movement in America, Teacher Expectations Students Achievements. In Russia today, there is a similar direction "Effective School", which is supervised by the HSE.

Unfortunately, we don`t have statistics on how schools implement and use our curatorial methodology after passing the hundred days. But this is due to the fact that they often adapt it to themselves. For example, in the well-known Yekaterinburg gymnasium "Corypheus", the hundred daysprogram was transformed into a project about internal growth factors, which retained the study of the lesson. At some point, the schools where the method was tested, picked it up, began to develop it — word of mouth started working, now this ideology is broadcast not only by us.

Our course is a commercial product, but schools often implement it at the expense of the municipal or regional budget. We are mainly talking about regional schools, the capital's education is a completely different context. We had several schools from Moscow, a little more-from St. Petersburg, but most of all we are visible in Yekaterinburg, Kaliningrad, Tatarstan.

In our hundred days, we rely on teachers with a lot of experience — they become curators for training teachers. Thus, many things are in the area of observation for the curator. They see the protocols that they have to discuss with the teachers, and understand: aha, I may also have such a problem!

It seems to me that if teachers don`t know how to interact with each other, set specific goals and give feedback, then there are no prerequisites for them to be able to do this with students. But there are no recommendations in the official educational standards on how teachers can achieve this. Our entire education policy is about children, and it doesn't say much about adults.

Another disadvantage of the existing system of methodological support for schools is the high degree of teachers` isolation. School-methodical associations and departments are engaged in papers and preparation of calendar-thematic plans, and the work on the lesson analysis remains in the background. Despite the fact that there is a huge potential for teachers-leaders – the teachers who enjoy authority in schools, but don`t occupy managerial positions. Informal groups are formed around them, they not only accumulate interest in themselves, but also show it. Therefore, our task is to use the untapped potential of internal leadership in schools, and the curatorial methodology allows us to do this.

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