Sometimes language can put me off. 140 characters worth of language is sometimes the worst. Short conversations snatched on a corridor between lessons. Sometimes, just sometimes, I might have a chip on my shoulder. Occasionally I might have one on both. What I am working on the most is keeping an open mind about other people’s ideas and to keep learning.
@iowhistoryguy and I had one of those short snatched conversations on the stair well of H block a few years ago. I had been practicing my, ‘non – defensive responses to feedback’, (something that I recommend to all leaders – a very difficult skill) when he explained to me the work of a Deputy Head (@dockers_hoops) at another school who, like me, had been tasked with improving teaching and learning. It took me some time to come back to SOLO http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structure_of_Observed_Learning_Outcome after originally finding the language very difficult to digest and the concepts a bit of a challenge. I also found it difficult to detach my decision from the views of others and their bias. One wrong word at a particular moment stopped me from finding out more. Why that happened I’m not sure but it has proved to be a memorable learning experience for me.
To improve teaching and learning my money went on a horse called ‘TEEP’ http://www.teep.org.uk/ with an outside bet on a series of action research projects to develop teaching and learning. It was a pragmatic decision based on the needs of the organisation I was working in at that time and one I stick by. What it provided was a common language that we as a staff could rally around. An opportunity to spend time together talking about the planning of high quality teaching and learning (during INSET days!!) as a community. If you haven’t checked out the structure of the training I recommend it. Teaching and learning can become a constant conversation in the organisation and teams can be developed. A community of leaners can be nurtured.
The clever thing about TEEP, in my opinion, is that it doesn’t discredit the work of the teaching profession over the past 20 years +. In fact there is nothing new. It does, however, provide a structure to link it all together. A means to bring people together. A chance to talk about teaching. In the very busy life of a school it reminds us what is important.
It doesn’t, however, claim to be the ‘one size fits all’ solution to school improvement.
During some of these conversations the subject of SOLO came up again. This time the work of @HThompson1982 was shared by @MissRHiggs with the Science team and beyond via our TEEP Peeps (a regular ish slot were staff co – planned across subjects). Hexagons and rubrics were introduced and discussed. Students seemed clearer about their learning. Staff excited about what the students were writing and keen to mark it. To me the link between TEEP and SOLO was obvious. TEEP provided the joint language and SOLO provided the chance to think about the thinking the students were doing.
At my current school we are hoping to use SOLO to help us develop a more consistent approach to improving literacy across the school. It might lead on to a more holistic approach to the delivery of the curriculum in a thematic way. It will not provide the single solution to improving teaching and learning but it will allow the conversation to continue.
My reading about SOLO stemmed from an excellent session delivered by @Andyphilipday
http://meridianvale.wordpress.com/tag/solo/ at #TLT13. My interest had been stoked (thanks David, Pete and Becci) and to listen to Andy deliver a session was very inspirational. I was also lucky enough to be part of a group where other teachers had used this way of structuring learning and had experienced success with their students. This was the right time for me to be receptive to a new way of learning. To start teaching from the ‘main course menu’.
The connections which are made from twitter continue to astound me even more now than then. @arti_choke http://issuu.com/pamhook/docs/solo_mentalmodel/1?e=5487954/5854288 provided support for me today in writing this article with this resource and some links to additional research I will use with the staff at my current school. @davidfawcett27 provides constant support for all who are willing to engage http://reflectionsofmyteaching.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/SOLO%20Taxonomy and the work of @LeadingLearner http://leadinglearner.me/?s=solo on this and many other issues is truly inspirational.
As I have said in a few of my previous posts I am very lucky to work in Hampshire and in a school where I am supported and encouraged. A few staff have kindly looked at SOLO this year to see how it works with our students. I think they are happy enough to share their findings of their work with the rest of the staff. We have some CPD booked following positive feedback from our staff who supported and attended the inaugural #TMconnectED and listened to @Stevi_e_c deliver his session on SOLO and took part in his follow up discussion.
My SOLO experience has taught me that a whole school project can take time to implement and learning can happen at a different pace for different people. I know it will be given the full support of the staff if they can see the benefit to our students and the proof will come from their feedback.
Research to follow up