Action Learning

Building Collective Efficacy

The downloads on this page are a stimulus to thinking and should be used to prompt conversation with colleagues during your PLT meetings. Listen to the podcast, watch the video, read the article, and discuss what each idea means to you as a group.
Use your conversation with colleagues to generate ideas to try out in practice. Action learning allows you to take control of your own professional learning and development by encouraging you to plan and take actions for yourself.
You will already be familiar with the structure of PLT’s – or action learning groups – as part of the Challenging Learning Process. Ensure those PLT’s are really effective by downloading the resources and discussing the ideas in them together over a series of meetings.

Downloadable resources to stimulate professional thinking

Theme 1 – Feedback

Learning Intentions and Success Criteria: view article

Open the Five-minute Read on how we can often confuse learning intentions and success criteria. As a group discuss your reflections on the key points. You might use these questions to guide your conversation:

  • What is the difference between learning intentions and success criteria?
  • How might this change the way you write learning intentions?
  • How might success criteria written in this way, help students talk about their progress?
  • Can you think of some example learning intentions for your class?
  • How might you write success criteria to be about skills and attitudes instead of knowledge?

Learning Intentions: View video

Watch the video (17 minutes) as a group and discuss your reflections on the key points. You might use these questions to guide your conversation:

  • What is the difference between learning intentions and success criteria?
  • How might learning intentions help your students?
  • Do you always need learning intentions and success criteria – why?
  • What might this video encourage you to do differently, even in a small way?
  • If you wanted to find out the impact of learning intentions on your students, how might you do it?
Theme 2 – Questioning

Effective Questioning: play podcast

In this podcast (9 minutes) the group have read sections 1.0 and 1.1 of the Challenging Learning through Questioning book. You might find it useful to read this too, then listen to the podcast as a group and discuss your reflections on it.

These questions could help to guide your conversation:

  • Sab describes questioning as being ‘like a game of chess.’ What do you think she means?
  • How is this idea of thinking about questioning as a sequence different to the usual idea of simply asking open or closed questions?
  • Why might it be important to ‘plan your responses’?
  • How could you ask more follow-up questions that encourage students to think more deeply about their answers?
  • Sarah plans to focus on leaving silences during her questioning to allow students to think and talk more. What might that look like in your classroom if you focussed on deliberate ‘think-time’?

Myths and Mindframes: view survey

Open the ‘Myths or Mindframes’ survey in the link and read the accompanying text from the introduction of Challenging Learning through Questioning . You will also find information related to questioning mindframes on page 181-182. Mark where you are now on each continuum.

Remember this is not a judgement, it’s an opportunity for self-reflection that will help shape your decisions about what to focus on next. Encourage your colleagues and your action learning group to do the same and compare your thinking with one another. Prompt, support and challenge each other to design some actions around your questioning!

Discuss: How do these mindframes add to your reflections from the podcast?

Prompt Sheet: print resource

Open the questioning prompt sheet in the link and discuss with your colleagues how you might use it in your own classroom to help guide your questioning. The prompt sheet is not a ‘magic bank of questions’ that will make students think! It is simply a reminder of what you could ask to keep the dialogue and thinking going. Here’s a few tips on how to use it in practice:

  • The prompt sheet is a reminder of what to ask after your students give a response.
  • Place it on your desk and use it to guide your next question.
  • Don’t try to use all of the questions on the prompt sheet. Pick out 5 that you would like to work on for the next few weeks and keep trying to use the same question stems until they become natural.
  • Use the prompt sheet to plan your questioning in advance so you know how you want to follow up your students’ responses ahead of the lesson. You are more likely to remember to ask them then!
  • Place a copy of the prompt sheet on your students’ desks, so they get used to how you will follow up their answers.
  • Encourage your students to use the same questions in their dialogues with each other.

Choose your 5 focus questions, make a plan, and give it a try!

So, what is the Action Learning Cycle?

The Action Learning Cycle is a step-by-step structure that gives staff, champions and leaders a protocol to develop their professional thinking and practice.

At the heart of the Action Learning Cycle is professional enquiry; a deliberate opportunity to explore the educational issues that relate to your school and context. 

Implementing the steps of the action learning cycle should empower you and your group to significantly improve educational opportunities for young people by taking actions that you have designed for yourselves.

Our Action Learning Cycle is based around 6 key steps that encourage learning together: 

  1. Identify a theme: this can be broad, and is usually an issue, an aspect of the vision, or any area of meaningful professional interest to the group or individual.
  2. Seek Inspiration: read, watch, listen or discuss inspirational material and resources that give the group a better understanding of the theme. Sometimes these are articles, podcasts, workshops or even, data.
  3. Make a Plan: based on what they have been inspired by, the group will make a plan to take action and trial an approach. This could be something small – a single action in a classroom; or something much larger, like implementing a project.
  4. Action and Observation: put the plan into practice. Take a risk and try something with the students in the classroom. It might not be comfortable at first, but it might change your practice, and impact positively on your students!
  5. Reflect: this is key to professional dialogue, taking the time to talk through what worked and what didn’t work, so that the plan can be refined and improved, and most importantly, tried again!
  6. Evaluation and Next Steps: review all the steps of the action learning cycle so far and share the group’s experiences and reflections. In this step, the professional dialogue centres around the impact of the actions taken and what it means for the school.

This dialogue should generate recommendations for the school, share the learning with the wider staff and highlight a different aspect of the theme for the next cycle of action learning!

The theory and reflection we share on this page will connect to your vision and be based on ideas and theory presented in one of the CLP workbooks:

Stronger Learning for Stronger Lives

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Stronger Learning for Stronger Lives