Teacher Education, Teachers’ Work group

I’m just back from doing a talk at Glasgow University to the TETW group about Learning Rounds. I was very flattered to be asked and the interest was considerable, if attendance at these workshops counts as a reliable indicator. The presentation & references can be found in the SERA bundle in the post below (go for the prezi link for the most recent version).. There was a fairly searching discussion during the session – I’ll try and summarise the main points I can remember below:

Are Learning Rounds of any value at all if the process is non-evaluative? 

Yes – I believe they are because the process is not entirely non-evaluative as they do become evaluative at some point – the next steps stage. One of the straplines in the Instructional Rounds text is  observe-analyse-predict.  It is important to resist the temptation to become evaluative too soon – i.e. before the evidence (from observations) is assembled. Carey made the good point that this is  counter-intuitive, it’s very difficult  not to want to jump in and make assertions – but in LR it is important to make evaluations based on evidence, not inference or opinion. So, it’s not that LRs are never evaluative, but the judgments come at a particular point in the process, and are evidence based.

What we’re doing is based on the LR model but we’ve adapted it and made it our own for our own purposes.

Which is what happens when people think about their context and their practice in the light of new ideas.  This may be a LR or it may be another form of observation – but expectations need to be managed in these circumstances in terms of achievable outcomes.

As an example of policy and process it’s quite revealing that a significant investment and profile can be given to something with a questionable evidence base. LR is referenced in Teaching Scotland’s Future and the NPG recommendations for implementation, but the evidence base seems to be scant.

True – and this is an observation which has been made at previous talks on the subject I’ve given. I think it reinforces the need for empirical evidence to justify policy decisions, and for policy makers to take research more seriously. Meanwhile, I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and try to grow the evidence base for this practice, which I do believe is valuable.

What’s the impact?

Well, we don’t really know, but as Aileen said – there are lots of things that go on in the name of CPD/Professional Learning/CLPL and we don’t really know what the impact of them is either, so maybe that’s more of a generic question.

There was lots more – I will add to this post if I remember but meanwhile, if you were there and remember or want to comment please do so below – and thanks for your interest!

About catrionao

I'm a lecturer at UWS and a PhD student at Stirling University, studying a school based practice of teacher professional learning.
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2 Responses to Teacher Education, Teachers’ Work group

  1. Catriona how do you counter that it is certainly a feelgood but it isn’t clear what difference it makes? Why would it be any better than me going off to read Chapter 1 of Frames of Mind? Teachers more than other profession have time given over to contemplation.

  2. catrionao says:

    Hi Cameron and thanks for commenting. I think your question related to two things that are interconnected

    1. How the next steps in the process are understood and implemented
    2.The impact of CPD more generally.

    The fact that you see LR as a “feelgood” is interesting – I’d be keen to know if this is in terms of your own knowledge and practice, your relationships in your setting, renewed enthusiasm, or anything else?
    If you’re not clear what difference it’s making, I think it might be a good idea to go back to developing the next steps as a result of your discussion, and looking at how these are communicated back to the staff group – in your case is this the LR group or the whole staff? The important thing to remember is that next steps are generated out of a body of evidence that LR participants have observed and agreed upon – so in this sense the next steps aren’t contemplative, or speculative, but evidence based, and the evidence comes from your own setting, and has been gathered by your colleagues. Ideally I suppose you need to allow for time to let the next steps to bed in then revisit the issue as a staff group and discuss.what’s going on.
    My understanding of this is that really what you are asking is the “impact” question – and I think that this question applies to every CPD or PL (Professional Learning) experience or activity that teachers engage with. I think it’s useful to bear in mind that we should be identifying changes in practice we will make as a result of EVERY CPD/PL activity, and thinking about evidencing the difference they make. In LR this is explicit – the changes in practice are part of the process (implementing the next steps) So in that way, if the process is working properly, in theory it should make a difference. I hope this is helpful.

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