It has been a while since I last wrote a blog… I have been adding to this blog on and off for the last few weeks as so much has been happening across our school. I thought I better finish it as December will be upon us soon and all things Chrsitmassy…
At the end of September our pupil voice groups met for the first time this session. Our pupils voice groups / focus groups are vertical groups from P3 – P7 with representatives feeding back to our infant classes. We have a variety of groups, one of which is our Learning Council who played a fundamental role in helping to establish our Legendary Learning List last session. Their drive and creativity was excellent. We have a new group of pupils this year who I know will continue to embed the hard work completed by last year’s group. Collectively, we decided on key aims for the year ahead. The group want to look at how well the Legendary Learning List has been understood and embedded in our school for pupils, staff and parents. They want to ensure each class is using and developing the Midlothian Learner and that pupils are thinking about and reflecting on skills they are learning and using in their learning.
So… where did we start? Our Learning Council devised questionnaires and these have been given out to all pupils, parents and staff. Our House and Vice Captains who lead our learning council helped to collect the data. We now have a clear picture of where each of our key groups are at. When the Learning Council meet next they will work on a plan to help tackle some of the areas that need improvement as a result of the feedback from the questionnaire – here are our results.
As always, evidence informs us and helps move us forward with next steps. This session has been about letting things settle, embed and allowing us to reflect on the impact of our work so far. We want to ensure we have consistency across classes.
Our P1’s have started work on introducing the Legendary Learning List by taking a new word each week and slowly modelling that. Our common language creates consistency across our school with all learners using the same vocabulary.
All staff will be given a copy of the results to help them to focus on key areas that they would like to develop in their classrooms with their pupils.
In terms of reflection… it was a year ago that our SLT completed our Visible Learning School Matrix after attending EIA – a lot has happened in a year so we felt it was good time to revisit the Matrix to look at the impact our work has had. As a staff, we came together to look back at last year’s results to look at where we are now. Staff worked in groups to reflect on where we are now. There was lots of great dialogue and discussion around evidence. It really was powerful hearing staff discussing where we are using evidence to support us. We have key areas that we still need to develop but coming to that conclusion together as a staff was a good experience and our trust in each other and our work was growing as a result.
Following on from our work on Inspired and Passionate teachers we revisited the pupil surveys and classes were given out the surveys to complete again. Class teacher will be given their feedback and will have the chance to look at key areas to develop. As staff we will come together in the new year to look at teacher mindframes and how they can tie in and support us in developing the Inspired and Passionate Teacher strand. This has been a real shift in thinking for us as a staff. Seeking feedback from our pupils to inform our practise was slightly alien to us and took a while to get our heads around the process – we are still working through that process. It was daunting but actually really worthwhile as it is all about where we are now and using it move forward to improve impact for our pupils and for us as teachers and learners.
I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to share our work on Inspired and Passionate Teachers at the Scottish Visible Learning Conference on 7th November. This was such an amazing experience and I was lucky enough to be able to share it with teachers from Lasswade and Roslin as they shared work they had been doing in their schools.
It was great to network and to hear John Hattie himself share his key messages, of which there were many. You can read and get a flavour of the day through a Storify that Sarah Philp created. The day itself was such a success and that was down to Sarah and her team!
Here is the link to the Storify – https://storify.com/mideps/vlscotland
I attended a few workshops and as our next step is feedback the feedback workshop gave me a good grounding for moving forward, we still have lots to do before then but I was able to think ahead to how we might begin and how to prepare to gather our baseline evidence.
Before we start looking at feedback we need to ensure that we have key elements in place to ensure that feedback is relevant, current and has stickability. Our VL working group are holding Professional Dialogue sessions as we did last year, our first is on Learning Intentions and Success Criteria, using Shirley Clarke’s Outstanding Formative Assessment as a basis for discussion. As always we are using sweet and treats to entice our staff – Lolly Pops and Learning Intentions and Sweets and Success Criteria. This takes place in 2 weeks time.
Similarly to Roslin and other school across Midlothian, we have been lucky enough over the last few weeks, to have had a number of visitors to our school who really encapsulate some of the key elements of a Visible Learner. We too had Caitlin McClatchey visit us who shared her inspirational story of her journey to the Commonwealth games and the Olympics. So many key aspects of our Legendary Learning List came through in Caitlin’s story. Hearing how someone has followed their dreams through making mistakes, preserving, practicing and making connections really brought it alive for our pupils and staff. Caitlin translated that into real life for us and it really motivated us and inspired us to continue the work we are doing.
The following week we were visited by the Scottish Cup Tour with the theme and key message of the tour being Perseverance, again a key word on our Legendary Learning List and one of the most used words which come through in our survey results. The story highlighted how hard work and determination pays off using a real life example. We were able to talk about and transfer the key skills and how we can use these in our learning.
On Friday Midlothian was visited by James Nottingham again, we had one of our teachers and Learning assistant observe James in the classroom with pupils from Gorebridge and St Davids Primary. In afternoon more of our team went along to hear James share his work on the Learning Challenge. It was an inspiring afternoon from which we all came away with lots of ideas and key messages to take back to school. Something that stuck with me and really links in with developing visible learners, is the idea of sharing the process of learning and not just the end product – make the journey visible at each stage to show the process and progress. There was lots of discussion around high quality dialogue linking with feedback – feedback in best within dialogue. This again helped me to think about where we go next as a school and how we can work together to develop this. James set us lots of questions during the afternoon and we were to discuss the “so what” it challenged us and focused us to talking about the impact that his ideas, suggestions and observations can have on pupils and teachers in our school. Another key messages was – challenge. How can we create desirable difficulties to enhance learning. We don’t want to smooth the path for our learners – we want to make it so they have to think, block their normal route and share challenge as something interesting and not deemed as something hard – easy is boring and challenge is interesting.
Thank you for reading!