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Views & Opinion


Gender matters in tech and parenting Comment by Dr. J. Alison Bryant, co-CEO and Chief Play Officer, PlayScience


Would you give your son a smartphone to play with versus giving one to your daughter? Would you pick your daughter’s games for her, but let your son decide for himself? Do you have a bias for picking technology for your kids based on gender? According to findings in a new study from PlayScience, the answer is “quite possibly.” In our PlayScience Parents and Platform


Perceptions study, we conducted a national U.S. research survey of 501 parents of children between the ages of 2 and 9 years old. We were surprised to find that parents have distinct and very different perceptions about devices, even when they have almost identical content. But the most shocking (and, honestly, disturbing) finding for us was how much a child’s gender plays a role in the technology that parents prefer and choose for them. For instance, parents are three times more


likely to give their son a smartphone or video game device, but more likely to hand their daughter a kid’s tablet (73% vs. 65% for boys). Correspondingly, for girls, child-friendliness of the platform is the most important thing parents look for. For boys, their son’s preference is the primary driver. So, it seems that there is a tendency to protect our daughters and appease our sons when it comes to technology. As our team of PlayScientists developed this study, we certainly anticipated that our findings


would be useful for our partners that develop content and services for the vast array of media platforms. But this gender-based finding was a really “aha” for me as a parent. We often hear about how girls and boys use technology differently as they get older, which fits along their social development; and we certainly know that parent gender bias occurs when choosing media content and other play platforms, such as toys. But the fact that a basic choice of which technology you put in your child’s hand at an early age could be impacted by these biases was a surprise – and not a happy one. When considering the huge effort over the last


several years to get more girls interested in Science Technology Engineering and Math or STEM education, this research becomes that much more powerful. Young girls and boys in elementary and middle schools today grow up with access to technology like tablets and smartphones, but parental bias could be stifling young girls’ opinions of STEM subjects. Technology is increasingly important in children’s education and helps to inspire and shape the next generation of engineers and scientists, mathematicians and coders. What message are we sending to our sons and daughters with the tech choices they get to make, or in the case of our daughters, don’t get to make? Think back to the last device you purchased for


a child. What influenced your decision to buy that device? If the answer is that the gender of the child played a driving role in your decision, then you’re clearly not alone. Whether conscious or unconscious, parents are more likely to take into consideration their son’s preferences and even give them platforms that they would prefer less for them (like smartphones), while seeming to be more protective when it comes to choosing for their daughters. I see the gender bias revealed in this study not


only as a challenge, but also as an opportunity for parents to be more in tune with their attitudes and perceptions when it comes to their children’s media use. We need to actively reflect on those choices and make sure we’re empowering both our sons and daughters when it comes to technology.


Using mid-year reviews to improve performance Comment by Denise Inwood, former Assistant Head and Managing Director of BlueSky


Mid-year reviews are an opportunity for staff to reflect upon their teaching and performance, share successes and areas in which they would value more professional learning as well as formally record progress towards objectives. Effective pedagogy is characterised by regular


and focused feedback. This feedback ensures reflection upon practice, measures the impact of learning through performance and provides a clear pathway to improvement. It makes sense to apply these same principles to professional dialogues.


Model and train – don’t leave it to chance All appraisers should be well trained in managing review dialogues, both mid-year and end-of-year. Providing a structure for these conversations, for example, using coaching models like Goal, Reality, Obstacles, Way forward (GROW), allows appraisers to prepare in advance as to whether the conversation should be celebratory or if performance needs to be questioned.


Be prepared Ahead of the mid-year review meeting, both appraisee and appraiser should review each objective carefully with a detailed focus on the


April 2015


success criteria, identified actions and any CPD and support that was identified and provided. The appraisee should be ready to outline their


progress, based on this evidence, to judge whether they are on track (or not) to achieve, or exceed, each objective, and highlight factors that are supportive and factors that may be proving to be barriers to further progression.


And now the conversation… A professional conversation is a dialogue that can be made effective by using a coaching style that allows the appraisee to lead the dialogue with carefully positioned questions after which the appraiser can guide and shape the review to qualify and validate the appraisee’s perception.


Documenting the conversation The appraiser records the overview of the conversation for both parties detailing the extent to which the appraisee is on track to achieve all objectives. It should summarise the request for further CPD to support the appraisee’s need to meet their set objectives and improve overall performance. On the rare occasion that both parties cannot agree, then the school’s appraisal policy should be followed.


Identifying and agreeing support The mid-year review should be designed to formally track any member of staff who may need additional support to meet objectives. If the review identifies that further support and guidance is needed, the appraiser should write a clear plan of action, defining the support offered to help that individual succeed in meeting their objectives. Impact measures of support should be used to


regularly update the appraisee on progress towards any objectives at risk of not being met.


Moderation and monitoring On completion of mid-year review statements, the school’s senior leaders should moderate a selection to ensure fairness, consistency and rigour. Any issues should be addressed immediately and the mid-year review statement amended and agreed. Effective mid-year reviews, can provide schools


with valuable information such as the impact of CPD, staff views on their CPD and its impact and future professional learning requirements for individuals, teams and the whole school.


www.education-today.co.uk


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