The power of filming and then watching yourself teach has become evident during our coaching and growth review processes. What did you notice? What are the patterns? What do they make you think? What surprised you? Does what you see yourself doing match what you think you do?
On a larger scale, having educators from other schools visit us in the past few weeks has provided a similar opportunity. Viewing ourselves through the eyes of others and becoming aware of different perspectives has been both validating and enlightening. In the process of planning for and evaluating the visits and observing our school’s practice through a different lens, we have asked ourselves the same sorts of questions. Does our practice align with our beliefs about learning?
Some years ago we spent time collaboratively developing a set of learning principles that encapsulate our beliefs about how learning best takes place. Since then we have worked at deepening understanding of these principles and ensuring that they underpin every decision we make in regard to learning within our school.
Our learning principles:
- We learn in different ways, depending on abilities, preferences and interests.
- Learning takes place through inquiry: questioning, exploring, experimenting and problem solving.
- Learning includes acquisition of skills and knowledge, constructing meaning and transfer to different contexts.
- Learning is active and social and is enhanced by collaboration and interaction.
- Learners need to feel secure, valued and able to take risks.
- Learning needs to be challenging, meaningful, purposeful and engaging.
- Learning includes meta-cognition and reflection, which support learners taking ownership of their learning.
Developing learning principles is the easy part.
How do you ensure that practice aligns with beliefs?
Initially this reflection led me to thinking about the barriers; factors that are often out of my/ our/ sometimes-even-the-school’s control, but I’ve started building a list of things that are working well so we can consider how to amplify those. (This is the influence that exploring coaching has had on my thinking. I can even coach myself now!)
As educators we live the learning principles ourselves through…
- A culture of learning.
- Distributed leadership.
- High expectations.
How does your school ensure that your practice aligns with your beliefs?