Nina's Notes

for Effective Teaching and Meaningful Learning

Not all education reform is the same. There is a different model:

The Fourth Way is a way of inspiration and innovation, of responsibility and sustainability. The Fourth Way does not drive reform relentlessly through teachers, use them as final delivery points for government policies, or vacuum up their motivations into a vortex of change that is defined by short-term political agendas and the special interests with which they are often aligned.Rather, it brings together government policy, professional involvement, and public engagement around an inspiring social and educational vision of prosperity, opportunity, and creativity in a world of greater inclusiveness, security, and humanity ( Hargreaves & Shirley 2009, p. 71).

This is what The Finnish Way looks like:

In the Fourth Way of Finland, teachers design and pursue high quality learning and shared goals and improve their schools continuously through professional teamwork and networks, from evidence, and from literature in their trade. (Sahlberg, 2011)

Finland has shown the effect of this empowerment-based education reform in several consecutive PISA results.

Hargreaves, A., & Shirley, D. (2009). The fourth way: The inspiring future of educational change. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Sahlberg, P. (2011). The fourth way of Finland. Journal of Educational Change,12(2), 173-185.

Nina's new book:

Also available as Kindle!  
Find it at Powells , or take a look on  Barnes and Noble. 


If you reside in the Europe, then Waterstones or AmazonUK  might be a better choice.  Suomessa ja muissa Pohjoismaissa myos  Adlibris on vaihtoehto.

SPOT on Feedback

SPOT on Feedback:

S - Stay within your framework.

P - Focus on positive.

O - Ask an open-ended question.

T - Student’s task is to plan for improvement. 


This form of feedback is applicable to any situation, including behavior management where the initial positive notion, clear request, idea for improvement and a follow-up are necessary parts for getting the best results.

It also works in academic areas, when you want to be sure to stay within the framework of the task at hands (instead of generalizing the feedback to cover other areas). Focusing on the positive in the task, asking a clarifying question (which has to be open-ended, so that student doesn't think there is one correct answer hidden somewhere and s/he should find it), and prompting student for improvement are the steps in a nutshell.


While thinking about the quality of feedback and support offered in classrooms general, what do we actually see happening there? I have observed the feedback system being separated from assessment/grading, and that doesn’t make any sense to me. What do we want to assess while giving the grade? The amount of facts memorized? Comprehension of the whole unit? Correct use of grammar? Understanding of connections in the learned objective? Or, maybe the growth in students’ knowledge? The effort put into learning? Being self-motivated? In most grades I see all the above mixed together. Just imagine how confusing it must be to students. After all, we make an effort to help students learn sequentially and in categories, yet we don’t give them feedback in the same manner.


So, how to do all that? It is actually very similar to expanding your vocabulary while learning a new language: reading and remembering appropriate words and phrases. It is not as silly as it sounds. All new habits take time to form, and it is just a new learning process. You can accomplish it if you want to.