Session 2.5 - Engaging the community
1 Review of follow-up activities from last session
- Did you try drawing concept maps on the netbooks? Were you able to use coloured boxes? Briefly share issues that you were able to resolve. Discuss issues that are still not resolved.
- Did you try the concept mapping activity with pupils in your class? How did the pupils respond to the activity, especially reasoning and building on each other’s responses? If they did this, how were you able to achieve it? Share specific examples of pupil talk and teacher talk.
- Did you use a digital projector in the class? Was it useful for the concept mapping activity? Why?
- What would you change when you carry out the concept mapping activity again? Make a note for yourself about any changes so you can remember for next time.
Horseshoe seating arrangement: How did the horseshoe seating arrangement go? Did you move chairs only, or desks and chairs? Do any of you have any tips for getting the students to help and for setting it up efficiently?
2 Introduction to this session
You can listen to the introduction to this session here and/or read it as 'background reading' below:
3 Preparing for a discussion with a parent, colleague, head teacher or inspector
Leadership for Learning provides an excellent framework for structuring discussions about learning with parents, colleagues, headteachers and school inspectors. Before preparing for such a conversation with the community stakeholders, let’s revise what we have learnt about LfL.
Let’s consider once again the 5 principles:
- Focus on learning
- Conditions for learning
- Learning dialogue
- Shared leadership
- Mutual accountability
You might recall the expanded list of LfL principles which were introduced in a previous session. This list is repeated below for your reference and includes questions for reflection.
Do you remember the lens metaphor? Using a LfL 'lens' enables you to focus on a specific LfL principle and think about how it is applied. In this session you will be encouraged to view situations through a combined LfL lens so that you can reflect upon and share your current learning and teaching experiences with your colleagues, school leaders and parents to greatest effect.
How might you structure a discussion about a student’s learning e.g. with a parent, another teacher, or a government inspector using all 5 LfL principles?
In this section we are going to watch two videos, to practice applying the principles in a combined way. In the next section, we will then draw on these observations to role play a discussion with someone in the community.
Small group activity: (15 min) Use 'table mats' to record observations and reflections on LfL in the classroom. Let’s try putting this idea of looking at students' learning through a combined LfL lens into practice.
Before we do, plan in pairs or groups of three how you will record your observations on your table mats, remember, this time your ‘critical lens' is a combined one through which you will 'see' all the student leadership and learning opportunities in the classroom. Decide as a group the best way to prepare your table mats so that you can each record observations on all 5 LfL principles for both videos.
Watch the following videos in which we can look out for and then discuss the five LfL principles. Pay particular attention to how children engage in learning, and how the teacher interacts with the children. Use your prepared table mat divided into five sections, each labeled with an LfL principle. As you watch the video, make notes in each respective section of your observation sheet. These will be your guide for discussing the child’s learning strengths and areas that might benefit from additional attention. Look for those things that you believe contribute to promoting conditions for learning in the video, for each of the 5 principles.
These videos show group work in Eness’ Grade 3 class. We are revisiting these videos you saw in Unit 1.1. Clip 6 depicts group work using animal pictures on tablets and mini-blackboards: a group of 5 is recording under their own category of ‘animals with no legs’ and interacting as a group. Clip 8 shows a group presentation where the teacher detects an error and asks for input from the children.
Small group discussion: on recorded observations (5 min). Now turn to the other members of your group and discuss your join notes, being careful to structure your discussion using the five LfL principles, and avoiding talking about global issues regarding a child’s learning behaviours. Make any additional notes on your table mats that you will need to engage with a whole group discussion on the videos.
Note: You might find that you can also discuss the absence of learning behaviours within the five LfL principles on your observation sheet. Again, noting that your discussion is about the absence of the specific type of learning behaviour, not the child him/herself.
Example: You might notice that a child was not engaged in what might be identified as learning behaviours that indicate LfL Principle 4, Shared Leadership. If this is the case, try articulating this in the following way: “While a child has demonstrated a consistent focus on his/her learning and contributes to creating positive conditions for learning through sharing resources and cooperating as discussed, there is room for her to increase her role in promoting shared leadership with her peers in class.”
Whole class dialogue (5 min): Whole group discussion of the LfL principles identified in the videos and how these contribute to students' learning. What did you find in your discussion of the clips? Was it difficult to limit your discussion to only those issues that were identified by the LfL principles? If so, why do you think this might be? Notice that you are having this conversation with your colleagues here who are familiar and know the language of LfL. Consider also how you might communicate some of your observations to someone else in the community? We will come back to this in the next section.
4 For reference - the 5 principles with questions for reflection
1. Focus on Learning
- Everyone is a learner. Are students the only learners in our school? How about the teachers? Parents? Headteachers?
- Learning relies on the effective interplay of social, emotional and cognitive processes. Do we think about what learning is about? Is it about memorising and applying certain facts? Managing emotions? Being able to make friends with one another? Making good decisions?
- The efficacy of learning is highly sensitive to context and to the differing ways in which people learn. Are we aware about the differences in ways which people learn and to what extent their background (e.g. family, age, interests) will influence the way they learn?
- The capacity for leadership arises out of powerful learning experiences. Who are some of the most influential teachers in our lives? When did we encounter such teachers and why did they create such powerful learning experiences for ourselves? How can we do the same for others?
- Opportunities for leadership enhance learning. Are we given the opportunities to make decisions on our learning?
2. Conditions for Learning
- Cultures nurture the learning of everyone. What kind of background (e.g. families, age, interests) would be most helpful to support learning?
- Everyone has opportunities to reflect on the nature, skills and processes of learning. Are there opportunities for everyone to reflect on the nature, skills and processes involved in learning? What are they?
- Physical and social spaces stimulate and celebrate learning. Are the physical facilities and other forms of support (e.g. community and family support) able to support learning? What are these facilities and forms of support?
- Safe and secure environments enable everyone to take risks, cope with failure and respond positively to challenges. Are we providing a safe environment for learners to take risks, cope with failure and respond positively to challenges? How are we doing that?
- Tools and strategies are used to enhance thinking about learning and the practice of teaching. Are we updating ourselves and reflecting on the various tools and strategies to enhance the way we teach and learn? How are we doing that?
3. Learning Dialogue
- Practice made explicit, discussable and transferable. Do we have the language to talk about learning so that we can discuss and reflect on it more fruitfully? How do we do that?
- Active, collegial inquiry focussing on the link between learning and leadership. Do we discuss and find out how we can take the lead to decide what learning should be like in our school (and not just be directed by the authority)? How can we go about doing that?
- Coherence through sharing of values, understandings and practices. Do we discuss and share the values and understanding of the ways we learn and teach? What are they?
- Factors that inhibit and promote learning are examined and addressed. Do we examine and address the factors that inhibit and promote learning? What are they?
- Link between leadership and learning is a concern for everyone. Do we prioritise the link between leadership and learning? What kind of concerns about learning do we raise and act upon?
- Different perspectives explored through networking with researchers and practitioners. Do we network with researchers and other practitioners to explore different perspectives of learning and leadership? How do we do that?
4. Shared Leadership
- Structures support participation in developing learning communities. Are there ways we can participate in learning or be involved in starting learning communities within the school?
- Shared leadership symbolised in day-to-day flow of activities. Can we see leadership being shared by various colleagues and students in the day-to-day flow of activities in the school? What is that like?
- Everyone encouraged to take a lead as appropriate to task and context. Do we take the initiative to take a lead in various learning or research projects in accordance with what we are interested in and capable of? What kind of projects or research can we embark on?
- Everyone’s experience and expertise is valued and drawn upon as resources. Do we draw on everyone’s experience and expertise and value all of them as important resources to support learning? How do we do that?
- Collaborative activity across boundaries of subject, role and status are valued and promoted. Do we value and promote collaborative activities across subject, levels and roles within the school?
5. Mutual Accountability
- Systematic approach to self-evaluation embedded at every level. Is there a systematic approach to self-evaluation that is evident in all aspects of our work?
- Focus on evidence and its congruence with core values. Is there a focus on documentation of teaching and learning that would be consistent with our beliefs on the values of education?
- Shared approach to internal accountability is a precondition of external accountability. Do we take the initiative to be accountable to ourselves in ensuring the quality of teaching and learning, rather than be dependent on an external authority?
- National policies recast in accordance with school's core values. Do we critically examine the national policies and how they are relevant with the school’s core values?
- Choosing how to tell own story while taking account of political realities. Do we maintain an individual stance of our own views of teaching and learning, while being very cognisant of the political realities that we are living in?
- Continuing focus on sustainability, succession and leaving a legacy. Do we try to look forward towards the future, on how we can sustain our current efforts and be able to leave a legacy for our future generations?
5 Involving parents: The issues
In this part of the session, we are going to use the LfL framework to help with talking to and involving parents in their children's education.
Reading and whole group discussion (10 min) on roles for parents in schools. Read the following text, and then have a brief discussion as to how you see possible roles for parents. Here are some discussion questions to start you off:
- What opportunities are there currently for having a conversation with parents on student learning?
- What do parents understand by student learning?
- Have you considered the roles of parents in supporting children’s learning, in supporting the school, or in supporting interactive methods of teaching?
You can listen to the following background text here:
Leadership for Learning applied to talking to parents.
We are now going to explore meaningful ways of interacting with parents, so that we begin to promote:
- increased presence of parents in school
- a willingness to move towards increased support for their child’s learning in and out of school hours.
One of the barriers to effective parents’ meetings, is the teacher’s ability to communicate effectively, ensuring both an open and honest conversation about their child’s learning that includes both positive and negative issues arising. A good way of ensuring that we professionalise these often very personal conversations is to discuss the process and content of the learning, and not the child him/herself. How can we do this? We can use the LfL framework as a starting point.
6 Involving parents: Role play
You have now reminded yourself of the five LfL principles, and also started to discuss how you might relate some of your observations to a parent. Now let us try putting some of this theory into practice through the following role plays. In this role play, one person is the teacher, one person is the parent (the other teachers watch and listen). The parent asks the teacher about “interactive teaching” and “use of ICT”, and why the children are no longer writing as much in their books.
Whole group brainstorm (5 min) on what parents might have to say about school when asked. As a group, do a brainstorm about what parents might say to a teacher, what they might want to know, what they might complain about, or what they might praise.
Role play (5 min) teacher-parent conversation in pairs. Break into pairs, assign roles (“teacher”, “parent”), and do a role play for 5 minutes. The person playing the parent asks questions or raises concerns (based on the brainstorm you have just done), and the teacher tries to answer those question, or discuss the issue. Then swap roles and role play again.
Whole group dialogue (10 min): Whole group discussion on teacher-parent role plays. Come back together as a group. Discuss the role plays. How did it go? How did you address the parents’ suggestions and concerns? How did this relate to Leadership for Learning? Make a note of any particular points that you could use in the future when discussing with parents.
7 Government and head teachers: Role play
There are other opportunities for discussion in school, for instance other colleagues might be curious about interactive teaching. You may also be talking with senior teachers, headteachers, or government inspectors who may be unaware or unconvinced about interactive teaching. As in the discussion with parents, the Leadership for Learning principles can provide a good framework for discussion with other teachers, headteachers, and inspectors.
Whole group brainstorm (10 min) on what another teacher/headteacher/government official might question about your class As a group, do a brainstorm about what another teacher, headteacher, or government inspector might notice about your class? What might they be concerned about? What is their understanding of student learning? See whether you can come up with a broad range of questions or issues another teacher, headteacher, or government inspector might raise. As these issues are brought up, see whether you can relate them to the LfL principles. How can you diplomatically challenge their assumptions about what teaching and learning should be like, if these are counter to your own views of interactive teaching? How would you defend what you have been doing in your classroom as a result of the OER4Schools programme?
Role play in pairs (5 min) a conversation between a teacher and another teacher/headteacher/inspector. Break into pairs, do another set of role plays, as above, but now with one person being the teacher, the other one being another teacher, a headteacher, or an “inspector”. The person playing the other teacher/headteacher/inspector asks questions or raises concerns (based on the brainstorm you have just done), and you try and answer those question, or discuss the issue. Do a role play for 5 minutes. Then swap roles and do the role play again.
Whole group dialogue (10 min): Whole group discussion on role plays. Come back together as a group. Discuss the role play. How did it go? How did you address the concerns that came up? What were the suggestions and concerns? How did this relate to Leadership for Learning? Be explicit about which LfL principle a particular point relates to.
8 Discussion on using ICT with parent and inspector
Throughout this programme, we have talked about the role of ICT in interactive teaching. We now look at how you can communicate to others the role of ICT in interactive teaching.
Role play performance (5 min) on the role of ICT in interactive teaching. Choose three people to perform a role play in front of everybody. The theme for the role play is the use of ICT at the school. One of you is the teacher, and the others are a parent and an inspector. Here are two ideas that you can explore in the role play:
- The parent asks: “I hear you have ICT at this school. Does that mean that your students learn the parts of the computer and how to operate a computer? That sounds very useful for their future life.”
- The inspector asks: “Can you show me an activity that you have done with the students, using a computer?” (You might want to both sit down in front of a computer, where the teacher explains the recently used Geogebra activity on polygons to the parent.)
In your role play, remember to draw on LfL principles to help structure the discussion; in particular, the focus on learning!
Whole group discussion (5 min) on role play. Discuss the role play. How differently would the discussion be between the teacher-parent and teacher-inspector? What does that suggest to you about the role of the teacher in communicating student learning? Discuss in particular whether the parent and inspector were convinced about the use of ICT, and what sort of message they have taken away from this. Do you think there will be value in having a discussion whereby the parents, teachers, head teacher and inspector are ALL present? Why do you think so?
9 Involving students
The Leadership for Learning principles apply to everybody, including the students. For instance, students taking responsibility for their own learning does not just mean that they learn a piece of information in a lesson. It means students taking responsibility for ensuring that they really understand, and that peers have understood. You may remember we introduced this as a criterion for successful groupwork in Unit 3, emerging from Slavin’s research. Moreover it also includes students taking appropriate responsibility for the learning environment and for the school as a whole (and in particular for learning at the school).
Here are some Zambian teachers' experiences of introducing Leadership for Learning to their students:
- When I was doing the leadership for learning, so I say if you find that your friend hasn't done well, create a situation whereby that person will have work to do at home, then you check the following morning. So it has continued just like that in class, yes, so they are used to doing it.
- Leadership for Learning, it was very nice. To me, I discovered that three quarters of my class they are able to be leaders, yes. So it's things that, even somebody that say "she is young, she cannot do it", they have that capacity and they showed it when we were doing those topics, yes. Like for one of my students, she looks babyish, sometimes she cries, sometimes.. so, give them an expression, you say "find a leader", and do one or two things, then she'll be in the forefront, doing it. So when I gave them an assignment on Leadership for Learning, she came out the best, I was really amazed! So now, what is the connection? Her crying, her babyish she is, and now she is able to lead the whole class, it was very impressive for me, I thought God!
Reading and discussion in pairs (5 min) on using LfL principles with students In the homework, we will ask you to discuss the LfL principles with the students in your class. Discuss in pairs: How would you do this? Can you draw on material from the previous and this session to draw something together? The following text has some suggestions! Read through it together, and discuss. Make a plan for a session with your students.
Consider what you have learnt about interactive pedagogy - so instead of just telling your students about it, create a session on LfL, where students explore the ideas of Leadership for Learning (the “metaphor” of the LfL lenses) and then apply their new knowledge and critical framework to their own learning in their own class, with a view to generating a shared dialogue about leadership for learning.
You can do this any any number of ways. But just to help get you thinking about a possible direction, consider the following as potential elements of a session on LfL in your class. Bear in mind the questions for reflection (which were used in the previous session, and which we have included above). See whether you can use some of those reflective questions with your students.
10 Connecting with overarching goals of the programme
Open space (10 min). It's now time for the "open space", that gives you an opportunity to discuss issues that have arisen, and to relate those to the broader context of the programme. Do not just gloss over this section, but make time to raise issues, and probe the progress that you are making. You could use this space to:
- Remind yourselves of the of the Most Significant Change Technique, and e.g. collect more of your stories.
- Discuss your assessment portfolios: Is there anything that you are unsure about? Is it going well? What could be done better?
- Check on the work with the classroom assistants: Is this going well? Are there any tensions? Any observations or tips you can share?
- Reviewing individual ICT practise (such as typing practise).
- If you are preparing a presentation for other teachers, you could work on the presentation (about what you have been learning, stories emerging from MSC).
- Remind those who are doing audio diaries, to upload them.
- You could discuss any other issues that have arisen.
You will find notes and summaries of various techniques and concepts on our reference page, and you might want to refer to those for clarification during this activity if needed.
11 Follow-up activities
Part 1: Pick a set of questions from the following table, e.g.
- Do all the children feel that they are looked upon by others as equal members of the classroom community? Do they feel that their contributions are recognised and valued by their peers, as well as by their teacher?
When you next teach, bear this question in mind, and after the lesson, reflect on it in your audio diary. (When you do the recording in your audio diary, state the questions first, and then your observations.)
You can use the rest of the questions in future to audit your practices in the classroom and in the school as a whole.
You can print this content on a separate sheet here: OER4Schools/Using_questions_as_a_starting_point_for_monitoring_and_accountability .
(Maddock et al.,2012, p. 111)
Part 2: LfL discussion with students. Run a session on LfL with your own students (as discussed above).
Part 3: Bring your folders (as always) to the next session.
Alexander, R. (ed) (2010) Children, Their World, Their Education: Final Report and Recommendations of the Cambridge Primary Review. London: Routledge.
Maddock, M., Peacock, A., Hart, S. & Drummond, M.-J. (2012). Creating Learning Without Limits. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
13 Additional resources
This paper [InForm_4_Headteachers.pdf] provides some information for school leaders about supporting leadership for learning in their school. Further information from “Creating Learning Without Limits” will be forthcoming in future.