This project has been a whirlwind from start to finish; a change in focus, a lockdown, multiple wordings for the questions, a whole different direction than I thought I would go on and a transformation in the way I view both enquiry based learning and myself as a practitioner.
I admitted recently in a staff meeting that I could do something a certain way (standing at the front of the class and teaching the project by essentially talking at the children) but I didn’t want to do that and it was a lightbulb moment. Children exploring a topic will ultimately provide a deeper engagement than any planning I could do, or any spin I can put on it.
I am lucky that my SLT were happy with my project and the results and the passion I have for this type of learning and have allowed me to take it forward next year for the senior group of learners. I am currently piloting the format with the children who will be using it next year in order to get feedback from them on what works and what needs to change before the school year starts.
I am excited to lead this; not just for the pupils I teach but to show staff that there is a freedom in giving children more control over their learning and planning collaboratively with the learners will only develop stronger relationships, thus making the classroom a happier and more successful place.
Attached is a copy of my PowerPoint about my leadership journey in pictures. I will provide a couple of words here in way of explanation:
Past: I always saw Leadership as a lonely and isolated job; driving down an empty road having to make all the decisions and never knowing what was around the corner.
Present: The only way to make an impact is to work as part of the team, you must lead from within not out in front. People respond better to those who are willing to lend a hand.
Future: It may be cliche but there is no I in team. You need to work together to make a successful learning and teaching environment. A collaborative approach is key.
I have become a more critically reflective practitioner throughout this programme and learned to embrace challenge and change and see it as an opportunity for growth and not just another tick box “have to” thing. While I was always assessing myself and reflecting on my methodologies o be the best teacher I could be for the children, I often forgot to follow opportunities that would benefit myself as a practitioner. I have surprised myself by having a positive attitude to this and finding things I can do well.
While I didn’t achieve what I thought I would, I feel I have achieved what I needed to do. I have found a new avenue of education to explore and a new passion for empowering young people using their own ideas to build their classroom and curriculum that is both in line with the standards and also contextual to increase their understanding and make it feel real and relevant to them.
This programme has allowed me to find my new itch for teaching, find my why in a time when I was unable to find it or to explore it because I didn’t know what it actually was. This is something I wish to explore more fully next year and take this role on to help develop as a leader within my school and my classroom.
I always thought to be a leader you had to be in a promoted post, but throughout this year I have realised that relationships are the things that matter; they are the foundation on which everything else is built. I am able to lead in the classroom and I am respected to lead other staff in a class based role and this is something which has now empowered me to embrace change and challenge myself to continue this moving forward throughout my career in whichever capacity I am in.
This project and program has allowed me to explore my journey as a leader within the school community, in the classroom and as a practitioner as a whole. I have been able to explore new ideas and have professional dialogue with my fellow teachers and school staff and hear a wide range of stories and Xperia nice which have impacted on my own practise. Constantly challenging myself to examine my practise and ideas and reflect on the positives and not just the negatives has changed the way I look at learning. This has has a positive impact on myself and further allowed for me to have a Growth Mindset within the classroom.
Allowing and encouraging my pupils to have a sense of ownership over their ideas and their classroom has created a very positive environment in my room and has boosted many of the young peoples’ confidence in themselves which has allowed for them to strive for more and challenge themselves. Hopefully, the more colleagues I work with and engage in this project will allow for more children within our school community to benefit from this philosophy. Y aim is to also work with other schools in the community to allow for children to network in a vey positive and safe environment and explore their interests through enquiry by showing them they do have a voice and can make a difference in their local community.
I have been unable to answer the question I have set out, but I have been able to watch a group of learners grow and adapt to new strategies. The children have become more interested and engaged with their learning when given an active say in this, and they have met the learning outcomes that were set out for them. I have learned that I have a very adaptable bunch of learners who are very interested in challenging themselves and rising to the challenges given to them.
The biggest surprise is how I have embraced not actually “finishing” the project the way I would have hoped to; having not answered my question and actually finding more along the way. This had lead o powerful discussions with my management team and other professionals in the community and has opened new doors with new pathways to explore – such as involving other agencies and classes in my planning moving forward.
Next year my hope is to continue with this enquiry and build a strategic framework within the school
Covid-19 has greatly affected my planning. Due to the pandemic I have been tying to navigate teaching a new stage as well as adapting my teaching styles to fit the guidance and distancing in the pandemic. My project itself was caught in many roadblocks due to different calendar commitments within the school year that had to be moved and adapted due to the pandemic, we had another lockdown which put my project essentially on hold for 6 weeks.
It has however opened the door to numerous professional conversations and dialogues with colleagues both in m school and wider community about the importance of children’s voices in their education, how they learn and what they learn and if Scottish Education system is set up to support learners through their journey or give them a prescriptive set of hoops and hurdles that everyone has to overcome whether or not it’s the right fit for them.
My enquiry will no be complete this year, as I wish to continue adapting it and moving through the stages of the enquiry in order to see if IDL and enquiry opens the doors to a deeper leaning for learners as it has for me. I have been forced this year to look at how adaptable I am as a teacher and how I can shift my teaching methodologies to fit different Learners’ needs and different learning contexts. I have excelled in areas I never thought I would and struggled in areas I was confident in – such as differentiation and working with children who have educational barriers. Not only has the pandemic allowed me to see what my learners are capable of, and celebrate their accomplishments, it has allowed me to reflect on my practise and plan my next steps.
My project looks different from what I thought it would look like. I had originally set out to prove that children’s attainment in literacy and numeracy could be raised through enquiry based and play based learning. I had set up a year long project that would use The Lorax as a stimulus to explore the Global Goals on a community level. The children engaged with this in various was throughout the year and my colleagues began to also get involved with their classes, getting their children to pick their own projects and lead their own learning though IDL.
Due to a multitude of factors out with my control, I was unable to have a project as linear as that and while I can see some improvement in the children, am unsure if this is due to an enquiry based approach or other factors through lockdown, so cannot give a complete analysis on this. I have enjoyed the support and the engagement from colleagues and the children, which is allowing me to want to do this again with another group of children, in another format, as it is something I am now genuinely interested in and curious about.
As a teacher, I always say that honesty is the best policy and that you won’t be in as much bother if you tell the truth first off. I’m not as far along in this project as I wanted to be at this point. My biggest concern is that I won’t have the outcome ready to present that I wanted. However, through professional dialogue and further reading on the subject, I am pushing self to be more open to the professional learning of this journey and not simply finishing a project.
This opened up a conversation surrounding learning within my classroom and school as a whole, what is the outcome for learning, is it a finished project or is it a skill/knowledge gained? School and education is absolutely full of people pushing for the needs to get to the end of a task and a plenary and have all of the data and completed tasks, however the learning hasn’t fully taken place. I know wonder if the learning itself is in the experience and the children who have said they will be finished when they are “done” are the children who are actually truly making the most of the school experience?
I am hoping to explore this concept and compare children’s work now to that of the beginning of the project, and further discuss tasks and whether there is an importance to finishing them.
My Project is no further forward as I was unable to find a way to make it work fully with the children being at home. The Children were able to improve on some of the skills – such as working independently- but this was through another method and not the enquiry method. I am thankful, as it change a lot of children’s perspectives when they returned to the classroom. I have to change the method of delivery due to other commitments this term, however, having the enquiry there gave children a lovely starting point when they came back to classroom learning as it brought them a sense of normalicy and continuity.
I am hoping to implement the changes I was planning last update this term and continue to assess and tweak this project as I go.