Posted in Learning

Painting on an already wet wall

Credit David Cameron for the title here, (David Cameron @realdcameron the educational consultant, not our Prime Minister!).

We are in a climate of constant self-reflection;

  • Which are your effective qualitites?
  • Are you evaluating the levels of learning successfully?
  • Are you fully engaging the major stakeholders in developing the learning?

These are all relevant and pertinent questions, but as the title states, how much can we ask of teachers and educators before it becomes mixed and clouded, before we are reflecting on the methods used for reflection, before it becomes pointless, and ultimately, the wall never dries before the next coat goes on? We want to ensure that any reflection has a forward direction; it will always lead to improvements and growth for those involve, rather than it being a process the protagonists are asked to do as part of paper pushing exercise, (I’m thinking of pointless perf management tasks and peer/self-assessment sheets you see in books that has had no bearing on the learning). Dave Weston (@informed_edu) talks about creating the correct culture in an establishment to enable staff to excel;

  1. Removing defensiveness
  2. Listening
  3. Relevance
  4. Modelling and Coaching
  5. Providing Time


Reading these, they are not exclusive to just teacher development, they have a clear classroom based link for pupils and their learning. Making any reflection relevant, allowing peer and self-assessment to be performed with the fear of a negative outcome, and demonstrating excellent reflective practice by talking and listening to the pupils about their learning experiences, (Pupil voice is great for this).

As we have looked at before, learning evaluations and learning walks are brilliant for gauging the successful areas of learning and where next steps need to be implemented, and a new idea we will try and pilot will be a variation on this type of evaluative study.

Instead of evaluating and observing the learning over a period of time, it will focus on reflecting on the pupil’s expectation s of learning they have developed with the teacher. We will look to ask teachers to teach the class they were going to observe/evaluate, rather perform a usual learning evaluation. This will reveal the expectations the pupils have for that lesson, what level of learning they have been receiving and methods of practice that are being used. Will this be more powerful have an a higher impact than a usual learning evaluation? Over time maybe, and it also meets point 5 above, it can free that teacher up for a lesson; time being a precious commodity in all educational establishments! This gauging of the level and expectation of learning will contextualise the reflective practice we are all asked to do and make it useable, helpful and inclusive.

Whilst this may seem like another coat of paint, we will look at it more of a touch up to the areas that need it, little tester pots rather than a huge tin!

On a wider reflective scale, I really want to work out a way of using this amazingly honest TEDx Talk from James Schmidt in an assembly about the value of self-reflection;

Talking to People

Appreciating what we have

Leaving a Legacy

Its pertinent and quite poignant point about leaving a legacy resonates with the learning and challenge mindset we all want for our pupils.




Assistant Head Teacher, Geographer, all round Educational Enthusiast

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