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driving thoughts #2

March 1, 2014

Reflective thinking during the week seemed cushioned by this soundtrack; evoked more driving thoughts.

Meanwhile, visual frames of reference included West Swan Road and Great Northern Highway.


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Long highway.

Easy to get distracted by what is peripheral:

Trucks. Traffic spurts. Overtaking lanes. Grapevines. Petrol stations. Bus stops, buses, breakdowns.

Toyota utilities. Four wheel drives. School runs. Workrush. Trucks in low gear, labouring. Gravel spray. Windscreen chips. Paint damage.

Alpacas, sheep, horses, horse hospital, horse floats, caravans, tractors, trailers, motorbikes and cyclists. Cyclists? Yes!

Familiar roads and landscape. Varied thoughts:

  • what is working?
  • are leaders’ feedback loops attuned and functional?
  • how are new humanities staff settling in?
  • what student responses/ emotions are evident during walkthroughs?
  • why did only 8 out of 32 students in my year 8 English class submit their first written task?
  • what impact do relief staff generate in the ecosystem?


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Mindfulness, too, of my own sense of perspective. Am I gauging situations accurately? What about other people’s views? Mirror checking is crucial: How about the shared meaning-making or interplay? This may be out of the comfort zone, however

…group norms will tend away from defensiveness and toward growth and double-loop learning; for example, trust, individuality, power-sharing and cooperation will tend to become norms, with competition being confronted when it becomes dysfunctional. As these norms are emphasized, authenticity, autonomy, and internal commitment will tend to increase (Argyris & Schon, 1974, p. 91).

In order to build collaborative practice, we use classroom observations or weekly walkthroughs to share what is working in our humanities team. Visual prompts become markers of learning:


Here you see (L to R) topographical mapping in year 10 Geography, scenes from Broken Lives captured in Play-Doh by year 12 English, grand entry statement, year 11 student’s written analysis of a biography, interpretation of political structures in year 7 S&E, Learning to Learn booklet review, symbolic wordsplashes interpreting colours, and notes preparing for year 11 interviews.

Shared staff insights?

  • Clear improvements evident in work samples from students beginning year 11;
  • Scaffolding strategies are prevalent – lots of visible support for literacy and critical thinking skills;
  • High level of student and staff engagement.

According to research supporting network practices such as instructional rounds,

Teaching matters most… Solutions must be adapted to local contexts… [and] Communities of practice accelerate learning (City, Elmore, Fiarman & Teitel, 2010, p. xi).


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Like driving on the highway, being a learner involves risk-taking. Safety in the learning culture needs to be encouraged, modelled, practiced and reviewed. Coaching that takes place around the learning will not be

…an event; it’s a process. The best practitioners know this, and this is why they use experience models to engage people in the work from day one. And they keep going, adding more and different experiences around the work as it evolves. There is a cumulative effect of multiple experiences that can’t be replicated in one or two larger events… Experiences involve, engage, and invest the people you need, so bring them in early to help bring The New into the world (Erwin, 2014, p. 182).

Selected references

Argyris, C. & Schon, D.A. (1974). Theory in practice: Increasing professional effectiveness. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

City, E.A., Elmore, R.F., Fiarman, S.E. & Teitel, L. (2010). Instructional rounds in education: A network approach to improving teaching and learning. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

Erwin, K. (2014). Communicating the new: Methods to shape and accelerate innovation. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Recommended resources

Aguilar, E. (2014). Coaching tools. Retrieved from!coachingtools/c24vq

National School Reform Faculty. (n.d.). Protocols. Retrieved from

Renwick, M. (2012). Instructional walkthrough template. Retrieved from Reading by Example March 1, 2014


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