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Wanna bet?

I’ve been reading a fascinating book by former poker champion Annie Duke called “Thinking In Bets” where Duke challenges us about the things we think we’re certain about.

Duke questions just how certain we’d be about the things we say or believe should somebody confidently look us dead in the eye and ask “Wanna bet?”   Would we be so certain if there was some real skin in the game?

How confident would we be then:

  • in our chosen approach to behaviour and conduct?
  • in our levels of parent support?
  • in the professional trust of our colleagues?
  • in the right way to teach reading? (I’m not going down that rabbit hole today, I can tell you!)

I love Duke’s provocation and also her encouragement to get comfortable with uncertainty and just try to do things that match our most rational beliefs.

She references psychologist Gary Marcus who says we have a reflexive brain in charge of stuff we have to do unthinkingly or quickly and a deliberative brain that’s great at thinking things through, given the time to do so.

The problem most teachers face is that, when our reflexive brain is enacted in the classroom or playground, we do things that betray our deliberative brain and then double down with excuses and justifications.

But what if the habit in your school wasn’t to judge the actions of your reflexive brain when it errs or blame a colleague for using theirs?  What if the habit was the relentless pursuit of learning from, and then narrowing the gap between, what our deliberative brain thinks and our reflexive brain does.

I reckon that would be a school set up for continuous and compounding improvement.

I’m not 100% certain about that.  But I’d bet on it.

Keep fighting that good fight,

PS. I’ve always said that working restoratively has helped me enormously when it comes to being less hung up on outcomes (whether my lesson worked or not) and obsessive about the process of great teaching. I’ll be running Restorative Classrooms, Strong Classrooms in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane in May/June and I reckon your school’s teachers should get there. It makes the world of difference when you’ve got confidence in your practice.

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