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Posts tagged with: cteach

Teacher Leadership in Practice

This is the presentation that myself and two colleagues from my school shared today at a workshop at the ACTS Winter Conference on Teacher Leadership.

We shared our own collaborative enquiry as a case study to consider the process of collaborative enquiry in general. We then held a short discussion around the process of collaborative enquiry. Some of the outcomes from this discussion were…

  • There’s a reliance on staff in your school being open to this approach and willing to become involved. In our case, it helped that the intervention was an aspect of a whole-school policy which meant that as teachers were to be implementing this change anyway it was possible to present this enquiry as an opportunity for support.
  • Time is an issue, as always. Even with the explicit and full permission of our school, all of the meetings were twilight and most of the observations and interviews were carried out in participants’ own time. The lack of time in our case resulted in a decrease in a collaborative approach. For example, some of the approaches to evidence gathering were designed by myself and not by the group as a whole. The enquiry could always be better with more time, but what can be done in the time available is surely better than not doing anything.
  • Continuity and commitment from staff is key to the success of this sort of approach. It requires a lot on behalf of the members of the group, but hopefully the outcomes for staff make this worthwhile. These outcomes include improved relationships between staff across the school

Educational Values

I wrote recently about the strange feelings I went through when changing practice in a way that shouldn’t have been strange at all, and I’m still mulling this one over. I’m beginning to come to the conclusion that it is all to do with our educational values as teachers and the status quo bias.

I’ve just started reading a book that has been sat on my bookshelf for ages – Nudge. In it the authors introduced me to the concept of ‘status quo bias‘:

The status quo bias is a cognitive bias for the status quo; in other words, people tend not to change an established behavior unless the incentive to change is compelling.

That is certainly something I recognise in my own practice, and I’m sure I’m not alone. So, what gives us this compelling incentive to change? This can obviously be many things…to save us time?…financial?…better results…?…better behaviour? But even then, sometimes these rewards simply aren’t enough to change our deeply ingrained practice as teachers. Which is where our educational values and beliefs step in. We will only make these perceived big leaps if we have a clear understanding of our educational values and a desire to bring our practice in line with these. You’ll see therefore why I like the following quote so much from James & McCormick (2009):

The tensions and dilemmas that teachers face and their struggles to bring their practice in line with their educational values, whilst coping with pressures from outside, were a strong feature of their learning in the classroom. Some appeared content with ‘going through the motions’ of trying out new practices but a small proportion (about 20%) ‘took them to heart’ and, with a strong sense of their own agency, tested and developed these ideas in their own classrooms in creative ways. The challenge for us was to find out what kinds of support within and beyond schools would allow the twenty per cent to grow to nearer one hundred per cent.

This, in many ways, is what my first module of the Chartered Teacher programme was all about way back in the first half of 2008…and I’m only really getting it properly now. This is why we need to stop rushing around looking for new ideas which we’ll never really embed properly, but take the time to examine our educational values and then develop our practice accordingly. Although it can feel like a waste of time in our ever busier lives, it’s crucial.

It’s the only thing that actually really works.