The key to effective school leadership is to inspire the continued desire to explore ways in which greater impact on the attainment of pupils can be seen by improving ‘Teaching and Learning’.
I want to share 3 ideas that have made me think slightly differently about how to inspire conversations and creativity around T&L.
In my role with helping to consult Heads, Deputy Heads and Classroom Teachers who are seeking to inspire their colleagues to pursue creative ways to do this, I have been surprised by a number of simple but powerful methods of self-reflection.
If I had known about these activities in my previous role as a classroom teacher, I would have found video useful for improving my practice.
Sharing the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
A school leader that I was in conversation with was trying to reassure his colleagues that using video to share practice wouldn’t be another chance to be scrutinised, but an opportunity to be better equipped to reflect more on their practice.
To do so, this leader decided to share 3 clips of his own practice:
1. One was a Good bit of practice that he felt was worthy of celebrating as it had inspired his pupils.
2. The next was an example of Bad This was more unconventional but essential. He shared this clip because it was this bit of practice that he learned the most from. We can learn from excellent practice but the mistakes we make, if reflected upon rightly, can be the richest source of learning and developing.
3. The final bit of Ugly practice was something that he had identified that he wanted to work on and wanted input from the other teachers in the room. This piece of humility instantly disarmed those present and got teachers to open up and share the things they struggled with.
What we model and share with our colleagues communicates very powerfully how we feel about our own personal development.
In some cases, the first phases of using video professional learning have been pitched to staff as opportunities to ‘Treasure Hunt’ and celebrate areas of strength and development.
One leader adopted the use of IRIS Connect in school with the aim of putting staff at ease and recognising the power of self-reflection as a tool for treasure hunting.
Ideally, he wanted to use video to show examples of how the teacher he was coaching was demonstrating real progress. He asked the coachee to put together a list of ‘10 Greatest Hits’, displaying moments when they were really engaging learners and seeing real impact.
Other leaders have started using ‘Celebration’ or ‘What Went Well?’ as the first area to be looked at during self-reflection sessions. Understanding how our best practice works can be an excellent and insightful process in realising how we can improve in our classrooms.
There are people that naturally gravitate to the weaker and more disruptive elements of what they are seeing. I believe it is much more useful to use video to understand what is working well when addressing what can be improved.
Examples of Experimental CPD
Sometimes the best thing to do is to film ourselves with no agenda and just see what is happening in our classroom out of sheer curiosity.
Here are 4 examples of what has happened when teachers have used IRIS Connect to do just that:
1. The teacher decided to see how long it took for her to pose a question and wait for a response from her pupils. On average she waited only around 3 seconds for a response. She was shocked. How would it be possible for most of her students to come up with a coherent response in that time? She tweaked her questioning strategies to make sure every child had time to think on their own, talk to a partner, share with their table and then allow for whole class discussion.
2. This teacher decided to measure the time they spent talking versus the pupils. He wanted to know who was working harder in the lesson, him or his pupils. He used the IRIS Connect timer to time teacher versus pupil talk.
3. Another teacher spent time measuring pupil engagement in the lesson via another analytical tool. After looking through the chart that the tool produced, he got the chance to see what it was that was most effective method for engaging his learners.
4. This teacher, upon self-reflection of his lessons, decided to map out zones of engagement in his classroom. He divided the zones by colour: Red = off task, Amber = mixed levels of engagement and Green = engaged.
Self-reflection is an opportunity to try new things and using video can be a great way of giving teachers the chance to watch themselves back simply out of curiosity. The promise is that they have the power to shape their own CPD and not just have CPD done too them.
"Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others." John C. Maxwell
In his book, The 5 Levels of Leadership, Maxwell writes that "great leaders do their utmost to bring the best out of each person within their sphere of influence. As they unleash the unique strengths of the people on their team, the entire organisation rises to new heights." Providing staff with all the professional learning opportunities that research shows will mean they see impact in their classrooms is one way to do this.
Find out more about Maxwell's ideas; Download these free 12 resources to support you in your leadership role.The key to effective school leadership is to inspire the continued desire to explore ways in which greater impact on the attainment of pupils can be seen by improving ‘Teaching and Learning’.