As I listened to a variety of speakers and had numerous discussions with other colleagues I came to some overall conclusions:
- A common thread from leaders who presented (@AlisonMPeacock, @adven_slearning and @headhighwood) was the power and certainty that came from a passionate ‘why’ (the reason in the hearts and minds) that drove their leadership
- The importance of school’s taking ownership of how they are teaching, learning, assessing, designing a curriculum… which is right for their learners, staff and context
- Anything & everything we do in schools has value if we have the right intentions at heart and have thought it through. Even if something we try doesn’t work the way we want, the learners and teachers can still learn and gain something from the attempt or trial. We should not feel guilty if aspects of our work don’t work out as perfectly as we would like
- Schools, teachers and leaders need to be courageous and focus on long term and sustainable progress: to develop thinking, understanding and passion of all within the school community
- That professional development only comes when we act. That we need to assimilate and professional learning and prioritise what will make the greatest positive difference for our children
With many thanks as always to the marvellous Martyn Reah (@MartynReah) for organising another fantastic PedagooHampshire. Here are some of my pick n mix takeaways from the sessions I attended.
ALISON PEACOCK (@AlisonMPeacock)
Alison spoke about “Professional Learning without Limits” and how through the Chartered College teachers can choose to share expertise. The College aims to raise our status as a profession, and that part of being a professional is sharing our understanding and practice.
She said that as a profession, “We need teachers who are so passionate they make learners tingle with excitement“.
Alison believes we don’t spend enough time celebrating our successes. We know that teachers make a positive difference in lives, when we connect, listen & inspire.
She finished by encouraging us all to be courageous: embrace what it means to be a teacher. Be proud!
JON LE FEVRE (@adven_slearning )
I have had the privilege of talking with and learning from Jon on a number of occasions. He has been hugely supportive as a more experienced headteacher in listening and discussing mine and our school’s development.
Jon enthusiastically talked about how his school’s curriculum is centred on Learning Adventures.
He discussed Simon Sineck’s ‘Golden Circle’. At Jon’s school the:
WHY: Core vision statement of what the teachers want for their learners.
HOW: Learning Adventures
Jon shared how an inspector had encouraged him not to aim to be ‘Outstanding’ (as this is predetermined by someone else and is somewhat of a tick box exercise). Jon and his staff aim to be transformational: they are there to transform lives!
We were invited to discuss how we might describe an adventure:
- not the norm
- an exciting or very unusual experience
The Learning Adventures at their school are real learning experiences, which result in high quality thinking and outcomes. The Adventures involve: journeys, guides, problems, solutions, destinations. What was noticeable was that staff and learners were as passionate as Jon about the Adventures.
EMILY SLADE (@emily_slade)
Emily discuss a project she had undertaken looking at how to close the gap in KS4 Geography. She discussed 3 different trials she had undertaken. The conclusion she reached with her classes was that including:
- teacher modeling
- joint analysis of a model answer
- co-planning using PEEL
- a written assessment with a help station
- direct feedback during and after the task
had created more sustainable progress and deeper understanding amongst her learners.
LEAH CRAWFORD (@think_talk_org)
Leah led an inspiring introduction to Blended Reading.
With the expertise and skill of an experienced teacher she guided us through discussing and debating a powerful and ambiguous illustration from “The Lost Happy Endings” (a book I am definitely ordering!). She used a set of carefully constructed questions to move us from basic retrieval to inference and evaluative thinking. As a group we began to hypothesise, and create possible narratives that the picture could fit into.
Leah kept asking us to justify our reasoning, and keep searching the evidence base from the text. Throughout the session she was genuine and authentically engaged in listening to our conversation and ideas. She didn’t use overt praise and never gave a hint as to whether any response was right or wrong.
It reminded me of the power of reading illustrations and picture books. Through this type of enquiry approach, we were exploring together and were not quite sure where it was going: which really reflects the point of a good story. Even when reading a book alone there is still an enquiry taking place, as Leah put it:
“Good readers make meaning through internal dialogue with the text.”
MATT HICKEY (@headhighwood)
Matt gave us a whistle stop tour of the range of strategies they have used as a school to agree their vision and develop: teaching, learning, assessment, reporting…
Reflection, perseverance, independence, creativity, curiosity, teamwork are his school’s agreed Learning Skills. They each have a character attached to them, with names and stories that the learners have written. These Learning Skills are central to their School Development Plan, curriculum development…
They focus on planning learning not lessons, as learning doesn’t take place in neat 1 hour time slots. They use Learning Loop Cycles as an enquiry based approach. They identify Key Questions, which are the overarching drive for each class for each term.
At the conclusion of a loop they invite parents in to SPLAT events: stay, participate/play, learn, achieve together.
Teachers take great ownership of developing their teaching and learning. They self-assess and identify aspects of practice they would like support with, and then invite colleagues in.
Targets for learners are set in the mid year report. The children led learning reviews with parents at the end of the year.
VIVIENNE PORRITT (@ViviennePorritt)
Vivienne closed the day with the challenge for us to choose one thing to develop: to focus on it, improve it and show impact by making a positive difference. Focus – Improvement – Impact.
She made it clear that today is about professional learning / thinking. But Professional Development only comes when you act.
We have to ask ourselves, what’s the one thing that will make the biggest difference?
It’s important to prioritise because we learn too much and we don’t do enough with what we learn.
It’s only when professional learning becomes professional development, that it makes an impact: then has an impact on learners.
School’s usually focus on what they do / what they offer. We have to focus on the impact we want to have: what is the difference I want to have?
Actions for our school
- How do we integrate our English and maths more into our Learning Quests?
- Create Learning Powers social stories with staff and pupils
- Pupil partnership of assessment and reports. Y5 lead learning reviews at the end of this year?