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How a growth culture is key to moving schools forward

Having attended the OLEVI International Conference I was struck by how everyone’s engagement and involvement with OLEVI has had such a major impact on them as individuals, and also the pupils and systems that they work for and within.

For me, the key theme was that of culture and ethos. It was striking that everyone who engaged with the OLEVI culture and ethos is moved forwards – a genuine culture of growth and value in the abilities of all individuals. I think my greatest golden nuggets (or fridge magnets as they became known!) were very much based in the further embedding of coaching, and the evaluation of the impact of all of the professional learning opportunities we provide for our staff.

I was stunned by the research that Prof. Peter Matthews, OBE, shared with regards to the impact of CPD when followed-up with instructional coaching, and how we can do so much more to ensure that learning is cemented and default positions (both in a physical and cognitive sense) can be shifted as a result of highly effective coaching.

Sarah Urquhart made me think deeply about how we conduct conversations in informal coaching with regards to who we see as the ‘expert’ and how many impactful questions we ask others that will genuinely move them on. This is something that I am going to share with our current OLE delegates (and all of our leaders so that they can role model this) when presenting the Implicit/Explicit model in our next session.

I think for our leaders (and everyone!) to reflect on how these conversations impact both people involved can have a profound effect on our default position when holding conversations and turn them into informal coaching opportunities. I also believe that an awareness as to how we conduct any conversation can help us convey care and trust in others, hence growing their confidence, assertiveness and resilience as a result. It really did strike me as a great way to show someone the unconditional positive regard that we have in them.

My final golden nugget came from Jacquie Smith who spoke about a three-week approach to in-school CPD. The Learn-Apply-Evaluate model made so much sense! I have been working through different pieces of research with regards to the evaluation of CPD but this gave me the clarity I’ve been seeking.

To explicitly share this with our staff and then use coaching as a way of evaluating the impact of the CPD events will allow us to cement the impact we are looking for, as well as gain a greater understanding as to the effectiveness of the professional learning opportunities we give our staff. Ultimately we are then in a position to make sure that our offer is bespoke to the needs of all of our staff, which will then allow us to maximise its impact for all and achieve our goal of an outstanding learning experience for all of our pupils.

Paul Day is the Leading Practitioner for Teacher Development at the Royal Wootton Bassett Academy.

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