High cognitive demand work (for everyone)
For students to engage increasingly in high cognitive demand work adults in the school must do the same.
Over the last 10 years the shift towards a greater focus on strategy at the senior leader level in schools is one form in which this shift is taking place.
A shift towards using data, observation and feedback is also a move in the same direction, but for teachers. My own observation is that whilst this move is in the right direction – it is necessary, but it is not yet sufficient - the level of cognitive demand in many professional learning teams is rarely high enough to move beyond incremental change within the current paradigm.
What can raise the work to the required level is middle leaders who grasp what needs to change in terms of practice and who have the leadership skills to set and hold high expectations, the processes that ensure high cognitive demand work takes place and the ability to coach and mentor others in the journey of doing the work and achieving the expectations.
Building this capacity in middle leaders is the big challenge facing schools today.