Session 1.6 - Leadership for Learning
Review of follow-up activities from last session
Leadership for Learning
Leadership for Learning is a way of thinking, doing, communicating, working, and reflecting about educational leadership in schools for the singular purpose of promoting the activity of learning.
In a previous session you identified the leaders and learners in your school and considered your own potential as a leader. We will now examine each of the five LfL principles more closely.
Here are the five principles of Leadership for Learning:
- Focus on learning
- Conditions for learning
- Learning Dialogue
- Shared Leadership
- Shared Accountability
In this session and throughout the programme you will reflect further on the five principles of LfL with a view to contributing your own ideas about Leadership for Learning through interactive learning opportunities.
Leadership for learning is happening all around you
If you know what to look for you will see elements of LfL in classrooms and schools, in your own community, and even in the setting in which you might be working through this unit!
You may be wondering, 'If Leadership for Learning is all around me already, why am I doing this unit?' Well … the short answer is that even though the LfL principles describe common attributes of many classrooms and whole schools, they are not present, coordinated or sustained at levels that support consistently positive learning effects.
LfL: Seeing is believing
Let’s start by considering a few ideas about LfL, its 5 principles, and how we might observe and identify these in classrooms and schools.
We like to think about ‘seeing’ the LfL principles by using what we have come to call an ‘LfL Lens’ or set of ‘LfL Lenses’. What do we mean by lens? We use a familiar image of spectacles or glasses to depict or serve as a useful metaphor for clarifying what we mean by an LfL Lens.
LfL: The five lenses
Let’s take our metaphor of the LfL lens a step further, and suggest that there are 5 different LfL lenses (spectacles) needed in order to ‘see’ all 5 LfL principles:
You can print this content on a separate sheet here: OER4Schools/LfL/5 principles .
Consider the 5 LfL Lenses and their usefulness for focusing on learning practices.
- What are the kinds of things you might see in a classroom if you were looking through the LfL lens ‘Focus on Learning’?
- What are the kinds of things you might see in a classroom if you were looking through the LfL lens ‘Conditions for Learning’?
- What are the kinds of things you might see in a classroom if you were looking through the LfL lens ‘Learning Dialogue’?
- What are the kinds of things you might see in a classroom if you were looking through the LfL lens ‘Shared Leadership'?
- What are the kinds of things you might see in a classroom if you were looking through the LfL lens ‘Shared Accountability’?
Your facilitator will explain to you how to go about this group activity. Before that, you may like to take some time to refer to the background reading to help you understand all the 5 LfL principles.
Application of LfL lenses to a classroom situation
Small group activity: (30 min) Use 'table mats' to record observations and reflections on LfL in the classroom. Let’s try putting this idea of looking at classroom teaching and learning through an LfL lens into practice.
We are going to watch a short teaching/classroom video.
Before we do, choose only 1 LfL lens that you will use as your ‘critical lens’ to ‘see’ the practices in this classroom. By choosing your 1 LfL lens, you should only ‘see’ and note down those things that your lens helps you to focus on. Decide as a group, what exactly you want to look out for based on the lens that you have chosen.
For example, if you choose, ‘Conditions for Learning’, then try looking only for those things that you believe contribute to promoting conditions for learning in the video.
OK, watch the video now, wearing your chosen LfL spectacles!
This video clip shows the highlights of a lesson study (also known as research study) going on in an American primary school classroom. Lesson study is another form of ongoing professional development activity whereby teachers come together to decide on an area of teaching or learning that they would like to understand and improve on, in order to help students learn better. The teachers observe learners in a class being taught by one of their colleagues and collect specific, detailed data for discussion with the lesson study group later. In this video clip, the teachers want to find out whether the students are able to recall and retell the sequence of a story read to them by their teacher.
LfL across the OER4schools programme
LfL is not only an effective framework for exploring others’ teaching and learning, it is also very useful for reflecting upon your own learning pathways. Teachers, student teachers and other participants are autonomous thinkers and learners, doing their own learning both individually and collectively. We hope that the new (and familiar) ideas presented in the OER4schools programme and the supporting resources will feed into your understanding of learning, classroom conditions and your leadership role, impact on student learning and what you can do to enrich and enhance learning opportunities.
There are no "right ways" but lots of possibilities to explore; in this sense you always a "leader" – leading learning in your classroom. Hopefully you can also share the responsibility for leading learning within your school or institution. We will explore this in 6.2 and 6.3.
Adapted from "Creating Learning Without Limits", by Maddock, Peacock, Hart & Drummond, p.108-9. OUP, Maidenhead."
Consider what you have learned in the sessions leading up to this point in the programme. Did your workshop facilitator and/or the materials ‘focus on learning’, create the ‘conditions for learning’, promote and enable ‘learning dialogue’, provide opportunities for ‘shared leadership’ and ‘mutual accountability’? Also, using the 5 principles, why not consider evaluating yourself, your own involvement and contribution to increasing the learning capacity in the programme thus far for you and your colleagues? LfL is an effective way of thinking about your learning, the learning around you, and how you can go about improving learning capacity.
Think about these questions and pair up with one other colleague to share your ideas before feeding back any salient points to the rest of the group.
ICT practice (20 min): consolidating what you have learnt so far. Review the previous sessions in this unit. You have learnt about netbook use, about slideshows (in a browser and in OpenOffice), as well as about finding images, and GeoGebra. These applications are all open ended, in the sense that there are many more things to explore and do. You should continue to explore these applications.
In this current session, you can use this ICT practice slowly to consolidate your skills learnt so far. Work in pairs, on a topic of your choice. Make sure that you work towards activities that you can try in the classroom.
Connecting with overarching goals of the programme
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.
We would like you to practice using the LfL lenses when you are back in your own classroom settings, or even when you are watching others in the act of teaching and learning.
1. Take time to think about the course, your own learning and how you contributed to and were supported in your learning. Use the LfL framework to organize your mental and audio reflections, enabling you to return to our next session ready to discuss your own teaching, teaching you have witnessed, and ideas about learning through the framework of the 5 LfL lenses. This will help us to focus our discussions and thinking about teaching and learning in a way that will help you develop your discussions with your peers.
2. Please undertake a 30-minute peer observation, where you observe student learning in a colleague’s classroom using the LfL lenses. You can choose to use just one lens, or more than one – whichever you feel is most appropriate for the exercise. It will be helpful to have a pre-lesson discussion prior to the peer observation lesson, to agree on what the lens means, what the observer could potentially be looking for and other ground rules of etiquette. (e.g. the observer should not unnecessarily interfere with the classroom activities, remain quiet etc.) The teacher may like to brief the observer on the profile of his/her class. There may be particular students the observer would need to pay more attention to due to various reasons (e.g. learning difficulties).
We suggest that if both of you agree to use more than one lens, then the observer can configure his/her notes in sections – perhaps even dividing your note taking paper into labelled, headed sections prior to the observation. That way he/she can jot down elements he/she observes under each heading in the prepared framework. It is important for the observer to remember that he/she is observing practices, not people.
If possible, conduct a quick post-lesson discussion as soon as possible. Try to ensure that the discussion focuses on observations about practices and contextualise comments by framing the observations as ‘ I noticed pupils...’ or ‘When you supported pupils to... I noticed...’. Remember, the observer is not reporting what he/she THINKS he/she should have seen in a lesson, but what he/she DID see. By doing this, the discussion can avoid problems of possibly unhelpful critique of peer professional practices.
We would not be surprised if both of you report back that certain LfL principles are observed more often than others. If you find this to be true, consider proposing an explanation for this to your colleagues at our next session and what you might suggest we can learn from your findings.
This page was authored primarily by Stephen Jull, drawing on collaborative work with Sue Swaffield and John MacBeath of the Centre for Commonwealth Education, University of Cambridge.