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Impact, Influence and Self Awareness

We’re always explaining to pupils that  they need to be good listeners but do we always model that good behaviour ourselves? Although we all like to think we’re good at listening to other people it’s interesting how sometimes other people don’t feel as though they’re being listened to. Developing this skill allows us to understand the needs of others, adapt our approach accordingly and so influence others in a more considered manner. Indeed getting better at seeing ourselves as others see us is an essential leadership quality. Accurately gauging the impact you have on other people is essential in forming and developing effective teams whose goal is continuous improvement.

So where to start? Some obvious ways of getting feedback to help become more self aware already include:

  • Whole School Level: whole school Pupil Perception Surveys;
  • Department Level: getting pupils to provide feedback about their attitudes to particular subjects;
  • Personal Level: lesson observations, video analysis and annual Performance Management evaluations;

Of course there are limitations to using these sources exclusively. The school and department feedback is by its nature general and requires you to draw inferences which may or may not be valid to a particular teacher. In the PM process we’re reflecting on our our own performance generally using statistical measures to help us set new targets; there is little in the way of objective qualitative feedback.

A more refined picture (provided you choose the respondents correctly) is produced by a 360º Diagnostic Report. But what about getting your classes to give specific feedback about your teaching?  In his work on visible learning John Hattie devotes some time to student evaluations of teachers (SET) as ‘central to lasting school improvement’. Hattie, J (2012). Visible Learning For Teachers – Maximising Impact on Learning p.159

‘The lesson with the students is completed, but the story continues. So often, the plea now is for reflection – but this is not my message. Reflection quickly turns into post-hoc justification. I have watched so many teachers talk about their lessons or react to videos of their teaching, and they can certainly wax lyrical about what happened, why they did this rather than that – and when asked to consider how to do better, so often they focus on what they should do more in the future. When they watch the same class through the eyes of the student, they are much more silent!’ Hattie (2012) p.155

Hattie discusses the work of Irving whose SET was developed specifically to evaluate maths teaching but it could ‘form a set of prompts for teachers to evaluate their level of inspiration and passion’. Hattie (2012) p.160

So….my plan is to use a version of  Irving’s SET (Irving Student Evaluation) using a Google Form with my teaching groups. I’d like to think that I:

  • challenge my students to think through problems and solve them either on their own or as a group (before asking for help);
  • encourage students to value history as a subject;
  • help students to make sense of the concepts and skills in history;
  • get students to think about the nature and quality of their work;
  • develop students’ abilities to think and reason in a historical manner and to have a historical point of view;
  • encourage students to try different techniques to answer historical questions;
  • show students interesting and useful ways to solve problems;

Will my students see things in the same way I do?