Session 2.5 - Engaging the community

From OER in Education

Learning intentions and objectives.
In this session you will learn about:

  • using a 'combined' Leadership for Learning lens to evaluate student learning
  • using the Leadership for Learning framework to structure discussion with a parent, colleague, head teacher or inspector
  • involving students

Success criteria.
To meet the learning intentions you will:

  • make observations on student learning using a 'combined' Leadership for Learning lens and evaluate these during discussions with peers
  • role play a discussion with a parent, colleague, head teacher or inspector

ICT components.
In this session, you will learn how to communicate with parents about your use of ICTs in the classroom. Unlike the other sessions, there is no time set aside for specific ICT activities.

Review of follow-up activities from last session

Educator note

If you are running a professional learning programme which follows these sessions in sequence, then you should do the review of follow-up activities relating to the (Category:OER4S CPD). The 'review of follow-up activities' for that session is available, and also shown below in the session text. However, if you are following selected sessions in a different order, then you should use the reflection appropriate to the previous session you did.

The review of the follow-up activities for this session (to be done at the start of the next session) is available here.

Educator note

There is no review of follow-up activities from last session available. You can go to the previous session () and.

Introduction to this session


You can listen to the introduction to this session here and/or read it as 'background reading' below:


Introduction to "Engaging the Community"

Introduction to "Engaging the Community"

Introduction to 2.5.mp3, 02:26,(Series: OER4Schools narration, episode 01)

Background reading

You have seen and heard many different ways of teaching and learning that challenge your previous views of classroom teaching. The challenge now for you is to be able to communicate some of these ideas about learning to a wider community of stakeholders. The objective for this session is to explore ways of talking with parents, other teachers, other schools, headteachers, school/college leadership team, inspectors, Ministry of Education officials, and other education stakeholders about new and exciting teaching and learning in your classroom and school. As a result, you will be able to have more confident and effective discussions and deliberations with these stakeholders. In this session, we also consider the role of students. They are often forgotten although they are the most important stakeholders in and outside the classroom!

Interactive pedagogy and innovations in leadership and learning practices will be unfamiliar to many. A large part of being an effective change-maker, or simply a ‘master’ or ‘leading’ teacher is ensuring that new ways of thinking and doing are coupled with opportunities for discussing and reflecting upon change and what affects this change.

The OER4Schools resource and participating teachers themselves will almost certainly be introducing some ideas that are new to school and college leaders and community stakeholders. The ideas may even challenge national or regional educational policy, although they will be grounded in solid research evidence and classroom experience. It will take courage to explore new ideas that might not alway be consistent with conventional wisdom. But, innovation and change are part of growth and development in schools and at the centre of all learning experiences.

In this session we consider how to introduce, discuss and listen to feedback from the key partners in children’s learning, namely, their parents and family, school colleagues and administrators, and the wider education bureaucracy. With change comes challenges and opportunities for cooperation and developing new ways of thinking, knowing, and learning.

Preparing for a discussion with a parent, colleague, head teacher or inspector

Leadership for Learning provides an excellent framework for structuring discussions about learning with parents, colleagues, headteachers and school inspectors. Before preparing for such a conversation with the community stakeholders, let’s revise what we have learnt about LfL.

Let’s consider once again the 5 principles:

  1. Focus on learning
  2. Conditions for learning
  3. Learning dialogue
  4. Shared leadership
  5. Mutual accountability

You might recall the expanded list of LfL principles which were introduced in a previous session. This list is repeated below for your reference and includes questions for reflection.

Do you remember the lens metaphor? Using a LfL 'lens' enables you to focus on a specific LfL principle and think about how it is applied. In this session you will be encouraged to view situations through a combined LfL lens so that you can reflect upon and share your current learning and teaching experiences with your colleagues, school leaders and parents to greatest effect.

How might you structure a discussion about a student’s learning e.g. with a parent, another teacher, or a government inspector using all 5 LfL principles?

In this section we are going to watch two videos, to practice applying the principles in a combined way. In the next section, we will then draw on these observations to role play a discussion with someone in the community.

Activity icon.png Small group activity: (15 min) Use 'table mats' to record observations and reflections on LfL in the classroom. Let’s try putting this idea of looking at students' learning through a combined LfL lens into practice.

Before we do, plan in pairs or groups of three how you will record your observations on your table mats, remember, this time your ‘critical lens' is a combined one through which you will 'see' all the student leadership and learning opportunities in the classroom. Decide as a group the best way to prepare your table mats so that you can each record observations on all 5 LfL principles for both videos.

Watch the following videos in which we can look out for and then discuss the five LfL principles. Pay particular attention to how children engage in learning, and how the teacher interacts with the children. Use your prepared table mat divided into five sections, each labeled with an LfL principle. As you watch the video, make notes in each respective section of your observation sheet. These will be your guide for discussing the child’s learning strengths and areas that might benefit from additional attention. Look for those things that you believe contribute to promoting conditions for learning in the video, for each of the 5 principles.

Educator note

Pedagogy: ‘Table mats’ to record observation and reflection

Allow about 5 minutes for each group to agree on and prepare their large sheet of paper (table mat). As they watch the videos, participants make notes on their table mat. Encourage participants to include an area for reflection on their table mats that they can record salient points on after a brief discussion with other group members.

The table mat should ideally be divided into five sections, each labeled with an LfL principle. Notes should be made in each respective section by members of the group. All members should use a combined lens rather than dividing up the 5 principles between them. There is enough information in the videos for participants to discover different things simultaneously. For ease of discussion afterwards there should be a way of differentiating which observations come from which video, perhaps by ruling a line under those for the first video before proceeding. Participants may come up with there own way of doing this and that should be encouraged as a way of them taking responsibility for their own learning.

"Mutual" or "Shared" accountability can be thought of as everyone (in for example a group) taking responsibility for tasks etc with all being held equally responsible for the outcomes.

These videos show group work in Eness’ Grade 3 class. We are revisiting these videos you saw in Unit 1.1. Clip 6 depicts group work using animal pictures on tablets and mini-blackboards: a group of 5 is recording under their own category of ‘animals with no legs’ and interacting as a group. Clip 8 shows a group presentation where the teacher detects an error and asks for input from the children.


Mini-blackboards group work

Groupwork using mini-blackboards: group of 5 recording under their own category of ‘animals with no legs’ and interacting as a group

Video/Eness vertebrates 6.mp4,,This video is available on your memory stick in the video/Eness Vertebrates folder.About this video. Duration: 3:43 (Some use of "" in your query was not closed by a matching "". watch on YouTube, local play / download options / download from dropbox)(Series: Eness Vertebrates, episode 06)(Transcript available here or via YouTube captions.)


Group presentation

Group presentation: teacher detects error and asks for input from children to verify (rather than ‘telling’); she corrects error with input from class.

Video/Eness vertebrates 8.mp4,,This video is available on your memory stick in the video/Eness Vertebrates folder.About this video. Duration: 7:03 (Some use of "" in your query was not closed by a matching "". watch on YouTube, local play / download options / download from dropbox)(Series: Eness Vertebrates, episode 08)

Activity icon.png Small group discussion: on recorded observations (5 min). Now turn to the other members of your group and discuss your join notes, being careful to structure your discussion using the five LfL principles, and avoiding talking about global issues regarding a child’s learning behaviours. Make any additional notes on your table mats that you will need to engage with a whole group discussion on the videos.

Note: You might find that you can also discuss the absence of learning behaviours within the five LfL principles on your observation sheet. Again, noting that your discussion is about the absence of the specific type of learning behaviour, not the child him/herself.

Example: You might notice that a child was not engaged in what might be identified as learning behaviours that indicate LfL Principle 4, Shared Leadership. If this is the case, try articulating this in the following way: “While a child has demonstrated a consistent focus on his/her learning and contributes to creating positive conditions for learning through sharing resources and cooperating as discussed, there is room for her to increase her role in promoting shared leadership with her peers in class.”

Activity icon.png Whole class dialogue (5 min): Whole group discussion of the LfL principles identified in the videos and how these contribute to students' learning. What did you find in your discussion of the clips? Was it difficult to limit your discussion to only those issues that were identified by the LfL principles? If so, why do you think this might be? Notice that you are having this conversation with your colleagues here who are familiar and know the language of LfL. Consider also how you might communicate some of your observations to someone else in the community? We will come back to this in the next section.

For reference - the 5 principles with questions for reflection

Teachers Talk.jpg

1. Focus on Learning

  1. Everyone is a learner. Are students the only learners in our school? How about the teachers? Parents? Headteachers?
  2. Learning relies on the effective interplay of social, emotional and cognitive processes. Do we think about what learning is about? Is it about memorising and applying certain facts? Managing emotions? Being able to make friends with one another? Making good decisions?
  3. The efficacy of learning is highly sensitive to context and to the differing ways in which people learn. Are we aware about the differences in ways which people learn and to what extent their background (e.g. family, age, interests) will influence the way they learn?
  4. The capacity for leadership arises out of powerful learning experiences. Who are some of the most influential teachers in our lives? When did we encounter such teachers and why did they create such powerful learning experiences for ourselves? How can we do the same for others?
  5. Opportunities for leadership enhance learning. Are we given the opportunities to make decisions on our learning?

2. Conditions for Learning

  1. Cultures nurture the learning of everyone. What kind of background (e.g. families, age, interests) would be most helpful to support learning?
  2. Everyone has opportunities to reflect on the nature, skills and processes of learning. Are there opportunities for everyone to reflect on the nature, skills and processes involved in learning? What are they?
  3. Physical and social spaces stimulate and celebrate learning. Are the physical facilities and other forms of support (e.g. community and family support) able to support learning? What are these facilities and forms of support?
  4. Safe and secure environments enable everyone to take risks, cope with failure and respond positively to challenges. Are we providing a safe environment for learners to take risks, cope with failure and respond positively to challenges? How are we doing that?
  5. Tools and strategies are used to enhance thinking about learning and the practice of teaching. Are we updating ourselves and reflecting on the various tools and strategies to enhance the way we teach and learn? How are we doing that?

3. Learning Dialogue

  1. Practice made explicit, discussable and transferable. Do we have the language to talk about learning so that we can discuss and reflect on it more fruitfully? How do we do that?
  2. Active, collegial inquiry focussing on the link between learning and leadership. Do we discuss and find out how we can take the lead to decide what learning should be like in our school (and not just be directed by the authority)? How can we go about doing that?
  3. Coherence through sharing of values, understandings and practices. Do we discuss and share the values and understanding of the ways we learn and teach? What are they?
  4. Factors that inhibit and promote learning are examined and addressed. Do we examine and address the factors that inhibit and promote learning? What are they?
  5. Link between leadership and learning is a concern for everyone. Do we prioritise the link between leadership and learning? What kind of concerns about learning do we raise and act upon?
  6. Different perspectives explored through networking with researchers and practitioners. Do we network with researchers and other practitioners to explore different perspectives of learning and leadership? How do we do that?

4. Shared Leadership

  1. Structures support participation in developing learning communities. Are there ways we can participate in learning or be involved in starting learning communities within the school?
  2. Shared leadership symbolised in day-to-day flow of activities. Can we see leadership being shared by various colleagues and students in the day-to-day flow of activities in the school? What is that like?
  3. Everyone encouraged to take a lead as appropriate to task and context. Do we take the initiative to take a lead in various learning or research projects in accordance with what we are interested in and capable of? What kind of projects or research can we embark on?
  4. Everyone’s experience and expertise is valued and drawn upon as resources. Do we draw on everyone’s experience and expertise and value all of them as important resources to support learning? How do we do that?
  5. Collaborative activity across boundaries of subject, role and status are valued and promoted. Do we value and promote collaborative activities across subject, levels and roles within the school?

5. Mutual Accountability

  1. Systematic approach to self-evaluation embedded at every level. Is there a systematic approach to self-evaluation that is evident in all aspects of our work?
  2. Focus on evidence and its congruence with core values. Is there a focus on documentation of teaching and learning that would be consistent with our beliefs on the values of education?
  3. Shared approach to internal accountability is a precondition of external accountability. Do we take the initiative to be accountable to ourselves in ensuring the quality of teaching and learning, rather than be dependent on an external authority?
  4. National policies recast in accordance with school's core values. Do we critically examine the national policies and how they are relevant with the school’s core values?
  5. Choosing how to tell own story while taking account of political realities. Do we maintain an individual stance of our own views of teaching and learning, while being very cognisant of the political realities that we are living in?
  6. Continuing focus on sustainability, succession and leaving a legacy. Do we try to look forward towards the future, on how we can sustain our current efforts and be able to leave a legacy for our future generations?

Involving parents: The issues

In this part of the session, we are going to use the LfL framework to help with talking to and involving parents in their children's education.

Activity icon.png Reading and whole group discussion (10 min) on roles for parents in schools. Read the following text, and then have a brief discussion as to how you see possible roles for parents. Here are some discussion questions to start you off:

  1. What opportunities are there currently for having a conversation with parents on student learning?
  2. What do parents understand by student learning?
  3. Have you considered the roles of parents in supporting children’s learning, in supporting the school, or in supporting interactive methods of teaching?
Educator note

Make sure that you have read this text in advance of the session. In the discussion that follows reading the text, make sure that participants understand how important parents are in their children’s education. What happens at school is only one factor in a child’s education, and whatever support parents give (or don’t give) is of key importance!

You can listen to the following background text here:


Introduction to "Engaging the Community"

Introduction to "Engaging the Community"

Involving parents Unit 2.5.mp3, 01.47,(Series: OER4Schools narration, episode 01)

Background reading

Parents at the heart of children’s learning.

Parental involvement in their child’s education at school is a known predictor of future academic success. Developments in pedagogies such as those we are exploring over the course of this professional learning resource are second only in importance to consistent, positive parental involvement in a child’s education. With this in mind, engaging parents in the school community and their own child’s daily education is a top priority of any leading teacher.

Convincing parents to come to the school and take an active interest in the everyday goings-on in the school and the learning of their child is not easy. It is important to remember that many parents might not have had a positive school experience, or might be intimidated by the school environment – particularly if they believe they might be asked to contribute to school and the learning process in a way that is outside of their comfort zone.

The first priority is to ensure parents and other key education stakeholders feel welcome and that their presence is valued in its own right. Navigating ways of expanding participation by individual parents is something we will think about in this session. We will explore the utility of the Leadership for Learning framework as an instrument for organising our thoughts, and we will also explore ways of communicating to parents the learning process and their child’s individual learning in an understandable and meaningful way.

Getting parents involved is easier said than done!

Leadership for Learning applied to talking to parents.

We are now going to explore meaningful ways of interacting with parents, so that we begin to promote:

  • increased presence of parents in school
  • a willingness to move towards increased support for their child’s learning in and out of school hours.

One of the barriers to effective parents’ meetings, is the teacher’s ability to communicate effectively, ensuring both an open and honest conversation about their child’s learning that includes both positive and negative issues arising. A good way of ensuring that we professionalise these often very personal conversations is to discuss the process and content of the learning, and not the child him/herself. How can we do this? We can use the LfL framework as a starting point.

Involving parents: Role play

You have now reminded yourself of the five LfL principles, and also started to discuss how you might relate some of your observations to a parent. Now let us try putting some of this theory into practice through the following role plays. In this role play, one person is the teacher, one person is the parent (the other teachers watch and listen). The parent asks the teacher about “interactive teaching” and “use of ICT”, and why the children are no longer writing as much in their books.

Activity icon.png Whole group brainstorm (5 min) on what parents might have to say about school when asked. As a group, do a brainstorm about what parents might say to a teacher, what they might want to know, what they might complain about, or what they might praise.

Educator note

Some things that could be mentioned here:

  • A parent is concerned about exams.
  • A parent complains that their child does not write enough in their book.
  • A parent says that sometimes their child is no longer following what the parent suggests, but often starts a discussion (e.g. what clothes to wear to school).

If possible, relate some issues back to the videos watched in the previous section. Maybe you can draw something out of the videos, that contributes to this brainstorm.

With each of these items (and any other items raised), see whether you can draw out one or more LfL principle that relates to the question.

Activity icon.png Role play (5 min) teacher-parent conversation in pairs. Break into pairs, assign roles (“teacher”, “parent”), and do a role play for 5 minutes. The person playing the parent asks questions or raises concerns (based on the brainstorm you have just done), and the teacher tries to answer those question, or discuss the issue. Then swap roles and role play again.

Educator note

Limit the time to 5 minutes.

Activity icon.png Whole group dialogue (10 min): Whole group discussion on teacher-parent role plays. Come back together as a group. Discuss the role plays. How did it go? How did you address the parents’ suggestions and concerns? How did this relate to Leadership for Learning? Make a note of any particular points that you could use in the future when discussing with parents.

Government and head teachers: Role play

There are other opportunities for discussion in school, for instance other colleagues might be curious about interactive teaching. You may also be talking with senior teachers, headteachers, or government inspectors who may be unaware or unconvinced about interactive teaching. As in the discussion with parents, the Leadership for Learning principles can provide a good framework for discussion with other teachers, headteachers, and inspectors.

Activity icon.png Whole group brainstorm (10 min) on what another teacher/headteacher/government official might question about your class As a group, do a brainstorm about what another teacher, headteacher, or government inspector might notice about your class? What might they be concerned about? What is their understanding of student learning? See whether you can come up with a broad range of questions or issues another teacher, headteacher, or government inspector might raise. As these issues are brought up, see whether you can relate them to the LfL principles. How can you diplomatically challenge their assumptions about what teaching and learning should be like, if these are counter to your own views of interactive teaching? How would you defend what you have been doing in your classroom as a result of the OER4Schools programme?

Educator note

Here are some possible scenarios to illustrate what we hope the participants would come up with:

  • A teacher goes to a different school - how do they convince the headteacher to try interactive teaching? (OR: A new teacher comes to your school - what do you tell them about interactive teaching?)
  • The inspector says …. “You need to do pace groups – in Zambia[Z]Kenya[K], we do pace groups!” - what do you say? Perhaps you can remind the participants of the “banana group” in Agness’ class who kept going off to sit in other groups (Unit 3.3.2), and of the incident of some of Judith’s students laughing at the group who got all wrong answers in a maths lesson (3.3.3). Agness and Judith use mixed pace groups now because they found that more students participate.

[It may not be the inspector who says this as there is now a move towards wider acceptance of mixed pace groups - it may be a parent who was taught themselves in pace groups who is questioning your rationale.] Note: Since the time of writing this, mixed ability groupings have become a requirement of the Zambian education policy and are not solely something advocated by the OER4Schools programme.

  • Headteacher says to you that “writing on the board is better, because children then remember”, so you should not do so much interactive teaching. How do you respond?

With each of these items (and any other items raised), see whether you can draw out one or more LfL principle(s) that relate to the question.

Activity icon.png Role play in pairs (5 min) a conversation between a teacher and another teacher/headteacher/inspector. Break into pairs, do another set of role plays, as above, but now with one person being the teacher, the other one being another teacher, a headteacher, or an “inspector”. The person playing the other teacher/headteacher/inspector asks questions or raises concerns (based on the brainstorm you have just done), and you try and answer those question, or discuss the issue. Do a role play for 5 minutes. Then swap roles and do the role play again.

Educator note

Limit the time to 5 minutes and ensure that there are enough of each different type of role play going on:

  • teacher-teacher
  • teacher-headteacher
  • teacher-inspector

Activity icon.png Whole group dialogue (10 min): Whole group discussion on role plays. Come back together as a group. Discuss the role play. How did it go? How did you address the concerns that came up? What were the suggestions and concerns? How did this relate to Leadership for Learning? Be explicit about which LfL principle a particular point relates to.

Educator note

In the discussion, issues around payment and transparency might come up. Often we dwell so much on money and not work, e.g. trying to attend workshops just to gain money, but putting work as a second priority. This could apply to people at all levels, and indeed corruption is a big disease in many countries.

As a facilitator, you may want to steer the discussion towards what this means for the participants. How does it affect their lives, and the life of the school? Transparency is related to “inclusion”, which in turn means involving parents (PTA) and students (students’ association). More “transparency” for instance means that those groups have insight into finances, and can therefore flag up problems. You could discuss with the participants where they see issues, and what could be done to increase transparency and inclusion.

However, as usual, set a time limit for discussion, say 10 mins in this case.

Discussion on using ICT with parent and inspector

Throughout this programme, we have talked about the role of ICT in interactive teaching. We now look at how you can communicate to others the role of ICT in interactive teaching.

Activity icon.png Role play performance (5 min) on the role of ICT in interactive teaching. Choose three people to perform a role play in front of everybody. The theme for the role play is the use of ICT at the school. One of you is the teacher, and the others are a parent and an inspector. Here are two ideas that you can explore in the role play:

  • The parent asks: “I hear you have ICT at this school. Does that mean that your students learn the parts of the computer and how to operate a computer? That sounds very useful for their future life.”
  • The inspector asks: “Can you show me an activity that you have done with the students, using a computer?” (You might want to both sit down in front of a computer, where the teacher explains the recently used Geogebra activity on polygons to the parent.)

In your role play, remember to draw on LfL principles to help structure the discussion; in particular, the focus on learning!

Educator note

Once three people have performed this role play, see whether the important issues have been raised. If not, then repeat the role play again, picking two different people.

Important elements that you should look out for:

  • Are your participants clear that ICT is for promoting interactive teaching and learning – the LfL lens “focus on learning”, not to learn about computers, or the parts of the computer?
  • Make the role play concrete. It would be good if an actual application like Geogebra was used in explaining points to the parent.
  • Where the teacher explains the Geogebra activity on polygons to the parent, be careful that this does not turn into a description of Geogebra and what it can do. Instead, the discussion should be about how Geogebra is used to promote learning, group work, etc. Again, see whether you can encourage reference to the LfL principles. (For instance, linking group work to shared accountability.)

Activity icon.png Whole group discussion (5 min) on role play. Discuss the role play. How differently would the discussion be between the teacher-parent and teacher-inspector? What does that suggest to you about the role of the teacher in communicating student learning? Discuss in particular whether the parent and inspector were convinced about the use of ICT, and what sort of message they have taken away from this. Do you think there will be value in having a discussion whereby the parents, teachers, head teacher and inspector are ALL present? Why do you think so?

Educator note

It may be very tempting to make use of the LfL framework as some kind of ‘repository’ to find solutions to answer parents or inspector’s queries (perhaps eventually as some kind of ‘FAQ’) We are not trying to give you ‘stock’ answers to reply to your stakeholders. It is important to note that using the LfL lens provides opportunities for all the stakeholders to come together to deliberate on the many issues of student learning from different perspectives. The teacher should not feel that he/she has to have an answer to all the questions that are asked by the other stakeholders. In fact, it may be better in the first few discussions, to LISTEN closely to the views of the different stakeholders before stating your own. It is easy to become very defensive of all the ‘new things’ that the participants have learnt so far. The conversation and discussion should be seen as a reflective and developmental one. This will eventually help the community as a whole to come together to support each other in your endeavours to provide quality teaching and learning experiences for your students.

Involving students

The Leadership for Learning principles apply to everybody, including the students. For instance, students taking responsibility for their own learning does not just mean that they learn a piece of information in a lesson. It means students taking responsibility for ensuring that they really understand, and that peers have understood. You may remember we introduced this as a criterion for successful groupwork in Unit 3, emerging from Slavin’s research. Moreover it also includes students taking appropriate responsibility for the learning environment and for the school as a whole (and in particular for learning at the school).

Here are some Zambian teachers' experiences of introducing Leadership for Learning to their students:

When I was doing the leadership for learning, so I say if you find that your friend hasn't done well, create a situation whereby that person will have work to do at home, then you check the following morning. So it has continued just like that in class, yes, so they are used to doing it.

Leadership for Learning, it was very nice. To me, I discovered that three quarters of my class they are able to be leaders, yes. So it's things that, even somebody that say "she is young, she cannot do it", they have that capacity and they showed it when we were doing those topics, yes. Like for one of my students, she looks babyish, sometimes she cries, sometimes.. so, give them an expression, you say "find a leader", and do one or two things, then she'll be in the forefront, doing it. So when I gave them an assignment on Leadership for Learning, she came out the best, I was really amazed! So now, what is the connection? Her crying, her babyish she is, and now she is able to lead the whole class, it was very impressive for me, I thought God!

Activity icon.png Group discussion (5 min) on the LfL principles Discuss the five LfL principles in relation to the students. What might the LfL principles mean for students?

Educator note

Here are two ideas that might come up.

Older students helping in lower grades. One idea is to involve students (from higher grades) in teaching and learning activities in lower grades. For instance a grade 8 student might help in a grade 5 class. Can you look at this from an LfL perspective? Consider the five LfL principles - how can they be related to this activity?

Students’ school council. Is there a “students’ council”, which represents the students?

  • Is this student organisation involved in discussing teaching and learning? Or do they have a role more like “prefects” who help in controlling and maintaining order in school?
  • Students sometimes do approach teachers, e.g. to raise the issue of there being too few books. As a teacher (and as a school), how do you deal with that?
  • There are other issues where students may not be involved, and perhaps should not be involved. How do we decide what those are?

Another important way to involve students, is for teachers to see them as a “resource” for developing their own practice, e.g. by asking students for feedback.

Students need to “be sensitised” (need to learn and practice) how to handle matters that concern them. ... thus protocol needs to be observed … Students need to be told that it’s their right to be heard and that therefore they need not to fear to make themselves heard. There is a background reading below, which gives details of UN Convention on Rights of the Child, article 12.

Some participants may question whether there is a minimum age for children to get involved in these sorts of activities. However, children’s voices should always be heard (in an age-appropriate way). The idea is that you have to start practicing all of this at any age, so that you can improve your ability to contribute and make your voice heard as you progress through basic school and from basic school to high school to university, and then to your work life.

Background reading

UN Convention on Rights of the Child, Article 12, child-friendly version: "Children have the right to say what they think should happen, when adults are making decisions that affect them, and to have their opinions taken into account."

UN Convention on Rights of the Child, Article 12, full version: “Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.”

With regard to primary education, one of the Cambridge Primary Review signpost recommendations (p. 510) is to "respect children's experience, voices and rights, and accept the UN Convention on Rights of the Child (UNCRC) as the framework for policy".

Activity icon.png Reading and discussion in pairs (5 min) on using LfL principles with students In the homework, we will ask you to discuss the LfL principles with the students in your class. Discuss in pairs: How would you do this? Can you draw on material from the previous and this session to draw something together? The following text has some suggestions! Read through it together, and discuss. Make a plan for a session with your students.

Consider what you have learnt about interactive pedagogy - so instead of just telling your students about it, create a session on LfL, where students explore the ideas of Leadership for Learning (the “metaphor” of the LfL lenses) and then apply their new knowledge and critical framework to their own learning in their own class, with a view to generating a shared dialogue about leadership for learning.

You can do this any any number of ways. But just to help get you thinking about a possible direction, consider the following as potential elements of a session on LfL in your class. Bear in mind the questions for reflection (which were used in the previous session, and which we have included above). See whether you can use some of those reflective questions with your students.

Background reading

Ideas for introducing your students to Leadership for Learning

Introduce the metaphor of LfL lenses. Provide the materials and guidance for students to cut out and make LfL spectacles. Recycled paper, card, and other paper scraps from magazines workbooks are perfect for this exercise. Guide your students in demonstrating how to make a pair of LfL spectacles - designed to reflect their specialist powers of observation - and with each child personalizing their own spectacles based upon one of the five principles (i.e., students trace, cut, fold, colour/draw, and glue elements to personalize their spectacles). When this phase of the activity is complete, each student will have made a pair of LfL spectacle. Students group, share and discuss their LfL spectacles and what they help them ‘see’ in their class related to leadership for learning.

Introduce students the LfL observation sheet concept, where each student folds a piece of paper to create 5 sections for noting observations. Invite students to keep this observations sheet with them for one whole day, making notes as the see leadership for learning around them.

Wrap up the session with sharing session at the end of the day, where students share their findings from their LfL observations sheet in small groups, with one representative from each group (the presenter) providing a succinct summary to the a whole class round. Collect the LfL observation sheets and summarize on a large poster, for students to see when they return to class the next morning.

Create opportunities to practice those LfL observations daily, and to expanding the observations over time.

Extension: Consider appointing a pair of students (boy and girl) as Directors of Leadership for Learning, responsible for monitoring and guiding future (daily) discussions regarding leadership and learning in their class. Each Friday appoint a new pair of Directors of LfL for the following week.

Connecting with overarching goals of the programme

Activity icon.png Open space (10 min). It's now time for the "open space", that gives you an opportunity to discuss issues that have arisen, and to relate those to the broader context of the programme. Do not just gloss over this section, but make time to raise issues, and probe the progress that you are making. You could use this space to:

  • Remind yourselves of the of the Most Significant Change Technique, and e.g. collect more of your stories.
  • Discuss your assessment portfolios: Is there anything that you are unsure about? Is it going well? What could be done better?
  • Check on the work with the classroom assistants: Is this going well? Are there any tensions? Any observations or tips you can share?
  • Reviewing individual ICT practise (such as typing practise).
  • If you are preparing a presentation for other teachers, you could work on the presentation (about what you have been learning, stories emerging from MSC).
  • Remind those who are doing audio diaries, to upload them.
  • You could discuss any other issues that have arisen.

You will find notes and summaries of various techniques and concepts on our reference page, and you might want to refer to those for clarification during this activity if needed.

Follow-up activities

Activity icon.png Agreeing follow-up activities (5 min).

Part 1: Pick a set of questions from the following table, e.g.

  • Do all the children feel that they are looked upon by others as equal members of the classroom community? Do they feel that their contributions are recognised and valued by their peers, as well as by their teacher?

When you next teach, bear this question in mind, and after the lesson, reflect on it in your audio diary. (When you do the recording in your audio diary, state the questions first, and then your observations.)

You can use the rest of the questions in future to audit your practices in the classroom and in the school as a whole.

Building confidence and emotional security Do all the children feel emotionally safe, comfortable and positive about their participation in learning activities?
Strengthening feelings of competence and control Do their classroom experiences strengthen or restore all children’s feelings of competence and control?
Increasing enjoyment and purposefulness Are classroom activities experienced by all children as interesting, enjoyable and purposeful?
Enhancing children’s identities as learners Do all the children experience sustained success and achievement in their learning, and recognition of that achievement?
Increasing hope and confidence in the future Do all the children recognize their own power to make a difference to their own future development? Do they develop constantly expanding conceptions of what is possible? Are they hopeful and confident for the future?
Increasing children’s sense of acceptance and belonging Do all the children feel that they are looked upon by others as an equal member of the classroom community? Do they feel that their contributions are recognized and valued by their peers, as well as by their teacher?
Increasing children’s capacity to work as a learning community Have all the children developed the skills they needed to work together constructively as a team? Do they accept responsibility for working effectively as a learning community?
Providing successful access by all children to whatever knowledge, understanding and skills are intended to be the focus of a lesson Have all the children understood and engaged with the content and learning intentions of the lesson? Have they engaged in worthwhile learning in relation to these intentions?
Increasing relevance, enhancing meaning Have all the children found the content and tasks of the lesson relevant to their lives and concerns? Has it created intellectual connections for them? Has it opened up new horizons and led to recognition of new meanings and relevances?
Enhancing thinking, reasoning, explaining Have all the children been helped to think, to talk about their thinking, to reflect on their learning and what helps them to learn?

You can print this content on a separate sheet here: OER4Schools/Using_questions_as_a_starting_point_for_monitoring_and_accountability .

(Maddock et al.,2012, p. 111)

Part 2: LfL discussion with students. Run a session on LfL with your own students (as discussed above).

Part 3: Bring your folders (as always) to the next session.

Educator note

In the next session, these follow-up activities will be reviewed. If you are using this session on its own, you can have a look at the review of follow-up activities here.


Alexander, R. (ed) (2010) Children, Their World, Their Education: Final Report and Recommendations of the Cambridge Primary Review. London: Routledge.

Maddock, M., Peacock, A., Hart, S. & Drummond, M.-J. (2012). Creating Learning Without Limits. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Additional resources

This paper [InForm_4_Headteachers.pdf] provides some information for school leaders about supporting leadership for learning in their school. Further information from “Creating Learning Without Limits” will be forthcoming in future.

Educator note

At the end of each session, we provide an overview of the activities in this session, together with their suggested timings. Although this appears at the end of the session (for technical reasons), you should keep an eye on this throughout the session, to make sure that you are pacing the workshop session appropriately!

Total time: 115 (min)

Activities in this session:

  • Small group activity: (15 min) Use 'table mats' to record observations and reflections on LfL in the classroom.
  • Small group discussion: on recorded observations(5 min).
  • Whole class dialogue (5 min): Whole group discussion of the LfL principles identified in the videos and how these contribute to students' learning.
  • Reading and whole group discussion (10 min) on roles for parents in schools.
  • Whole group brainstorm (5 min) on what parents might have to say about school when asked.
  • Role play (5 min) teacher-parent conversation in pairs.
  • Whole group dialogue (10 min): Whole group discussion on teacher-parent role plays.
  • Whole group brainstorm (10 min) on what another teacher/headteacher/government official might question about your class
  • Role play in pairs (5 min) a conversation between a teacher and another teacher/headteacher/inspector.
  • Whole group dialogue (10 min): Whole group discussion on role plays.
  • Role play performance (5 min) on the role of ICT in interactive teaching.
  • Whole group discussion (5 min) on role play.
  • Group discussion (5 min) on the LfL principles
  • Reading and discussion in pairs (5 min) on using LfL principles with students
  • Open space(10 min).
  • Agreeing follow-up activities(5 min).

If you have printed this session for offline use, you may also need to download the following assets: