Interim reports

Education Learning Log

My task for this week

It is genuinely difficult for me to listen carefully when I’m coaching someone without making judgements on an issue during the conversation in my own head. The tendency then for me  is to give advice and solutions for whatever issue they may have. I know I do this all the time not just when working on coaching. I’ve tried allsorts of strategies – doodling, holding my hand over my mouth etc which is all fairly pathetic. And I really do know that telling someone what to do to solve something really isn’t that helpful a lot of the time! It’s downright annoying a lot of the time as my sons never tire of explaining to me….

Anyway I found a useful activity in Julie Starr’s “The Coaching Manual” called meditation for non judgement on page 34. The idea is that by doing this activity it helps us to practise letting go judgements we make about others and clears our heads. The obvious reasons for this is to have a clearer mind when listening, become more objective and relate more closely to people. The activity involves you spending time just observing someone without interruption and possibly taking notes. Keeping relaxed while doing this and noticing what you’re thinking  – e.g. are you agreeing/disagreeing with what they are doing/saying, do you think they remind you of someone, do you like/not like etc. Trying to look at the thoughts you are having in a detached way as if you were watching yourself watching the person. Then as you acknowledge the thoughts letting them go. The next step is to refocus your thoughts from the judgemental ones to really thinking about what the person is saying, what they feel about it and what they are committed to.

I think I may have months of trying this ahead of me before I can listen better!


April 30, 2008 Posted by | Coaching | , , | Leave a comment

More on the coaching

Further to today’s coaching session. I am genuinely amazed at how helpful and empowering I am finding this process. From the point of view of me coaching someone else I find it a time when I can really listen and take time to hear what is being said – the amount I personally learn when listening to someone else in a similar kind of role is fascinating, as is really having the time to watch someone’s thought processes as they reflect. It’s very much a two way learning process, although I’m the listener. Maybe it’s just the seeing how someone moves through the thinking process in a more heightened way.

When I am being coached I find myself thinking hard and being amazed at what’s in my own head when I concentrate and can’t believe what some carefully worded questions pull out of me. I wish I’d come to this field of learning earlier.

Today I came away again with a clear idea in my head of my current progress and where I intend to focus next in my role. I’m finding the clarity it gives me extremely useful. I also feel very energised after a session as the fogginess of my thinking processes becomes clearer through discussion

This is a transformational development for me which is hitting me unexpectedly. Someone at the intitial training said they were finding it life changing. I think that now I’m actually moving through the coaching process itself I would have to agree. I’m also finding it remarkable how quickly it is affecting my thinking.

April 29, 2008 Posted by | Coaching | , | Leave a comment

A good day

I attended the SLC HT curriculum conference today for the morning. There was a wonderful display of good practice stalls set up for us to visit, highlighting good practice from across the authority. Lots to see and I heard someone say she wished she wasn’t retiring soon as it’s such an exciting time to be involved in teaching and she’d love to be just starting out! Says it all really.

There was also a section on Glow – where we are, examples of good practice in our schools and where we might go next. In the primary section a teacher from Woodside and Caroline from Castlefield gave presentations with some of the pupils from their classes. I felt like Caroline’s Mum watching her up there, I was pretting much bursting with pride. Their input and that of the children let people really see what a useful tool it is for learning and teaching. Some of the pupils from my previous school of Castlefield made me laugh with their insightful remarks. There are no flies on them, as it were, when making truthful comments, and if they didn’t find Glow useful we’d have known about it! Feedback from the secondary input from Jaye was also very good and I spotted her pupils outside looking pretty proud of themselves afterwards.

Later I went for my coaching session. I was looking out the window, near the lift in the faculty of education, off Woodlands Road, waiting on my coach to retrieve his car keys. I became aware of the lift doors banging open and shut, as I must have been making them open automatically from where I was standing, and within a man desperately pressing buttons. Anyway keeking in, who did I spy but Jack McConnell. Not one to miss an opportunity….Malawi – the very man – I thought -as I thrust my arm into the lift to stop him escaping. So he’s now more aware of the Duncanrig Learning Community Rich Task linked to Malawi…. He’d previously taken the time to send a letter to one of the classes involved (at Southpark Primary, I think). I did notice my coach’s shoulders jiggling in the corner of the lift as he hooted about my brass neck and cheek! Anyway  my main, very politically incorrect observation, is that in close up view he is much more handsome than he is on the telly!

April 29, 2008 Posted by | Coaching, ICT, Rich tasks | , , , , | 1 Comment


Thinkers of the Jungle

Here’s my must have read from today. I’ve nothing else to say about the mistreatment of these animals, other have said it all before and far better than I could.

April 28, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Writing improvement plans

Spending some time at the moment on a variety of tasks including supporting schools as they are writing HMIe action plans, performance profiles, improvement plans etc. As always a rake through Don Ledingham’s blog brings up some useful advice. I’m finding some interesting reading from his Harvard school notes and his comments on developing outcome agreements which he has written about in several posts over a period of time. His posts are a great help.

Being involved in learning about coaching continues to be really useful and I’m finding that it has heightened my need to be self reflective and to renegotiate my own thinking in my head on a whole raft of issues related to my job, learning and teaching. I find myself doing this in big blocks of thinking and reflecting, which can overwhelm me- it’d be much easier if I could do this in smaller chunks in a more measured way, so I’m working on that!

April 27, 2008 Posted by | ICT | , | Leave a comment

Bob and smoothies

Philips HR 2094 Aluminium Chrome/Black Liquidiser 750w

This week I have been mostly eating smoothies. I may have the occasional worn carpet and have an unintentional shabby chic (or not) look around the flat, but I do love to buy electronic gadgets, great speakers and various white goods! Anyway after bursting the bank with a Smeg fridge I’d been lusting after the other week, I got a better smoothy maker this week that can cope nicely with ice and frozen Summer Berries. Nice!

I discovered that in common with a friend we’ve both been rediscovering Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks over the past couple of weeks. As a bit of an old punk I came late to Dylan as he was not on my High Fidelityesque musical snobbery list of favourites. But when I did pay him attention he became an obsession… Anyway I’m looking forward to some books from amazon on the making of this album. I’ve also been snorting at the advertising of The Attic Lights new cd – they managed to even get a mention in the Mail on Sunday! They have had the audacity to call it “God” and as you can imagine have caused a bit of a rumpus with their shenanigans.

April 27, 2008 Posted by | Nonsense | , , | Leave a comment

HT Conference

There’s to be a Glow section next week at the HT conference in SLC. It’ll a great opportunity for everyone to find out more about the practice already going on in early adopter schools. I know Caroline and Jaye are both presenting and I think they may be bringing some of the young people involved who will really spread the message about how useful they are finding using Glow. It’s only useful if it is impacting positively on learning and teaching and I’m sure that the enthusiasm of these two will show just how helpful a tool they are finding Glow. As Glow rolls out it’s important that the mystique which at times has grown around it is taken away and it can be seen to be an easy to use tool, which can save time for teachers and make it easier to teach! I know having seen both these practitioners using Glow the impact it has had on attitudes to learning within their classes when in use – impacting on pupil collaborative work, active learning and depth of learning. And that sounds very like what we’re trying to do through CfE!  I’m looking forward to  seeing their presentations next week.

April 27, 2008 Posted by | ICT, learning | | 1 Comment


Nifty new gadget. Unfortunately I don’t have plane fare for Hong Kong and doubt anyone will offer me it!

April 24, 2008 Posted by | ICT | , | 2 Comments

Qualification review

Full text of Fiona Hyslop’s statement

April 24, 2008 Posted by | learning | , , | Leave a comment

Loose Coupling

I hadn’t read Elmore’s “Building a New Structure For School Leadership”, 2000 for a while. It’s easy to download a copy of this online. I went back to this recently as I’m increasingly dwelling on just how to improve learning and teaching in my role as a QIO – my main role is supporting schools on the quality improvement agenda so unlike some QIOs I do not have a wide curricular remit in addition. This frees me up to really concentrate on this one area. Anyway the simplicity of his argument had a big effect on me when I first read it and still does as I revisit it.

For anyone who hasn’t read this its well worth a look or another read as whether you agree with what he says or not, there’s a lot for reflection in it, on how we really make concrete improvements to learning and teaching within the classroom.

Delighted to see what Caroline and Jaye have been saying about their Glow days at Stirling management centre – sharing success and making connections. It sounds like they’ve had a useful couple of days. And I like their animoto slides from it too!

April 24, 2008 Posted by | ICT, leadership, learning | , , | 3 Comments