Reflection is so important in our role as educators……It is too easy to think that there are so many other things to do, or that you are too tired…or (enter anything else here!) and yes that is usually true. The thing that I need to constantly remind myself is that by not carving out time for reflection I am actually doing myself a disservice.
How is it that during my first year of headship I made time for reflection almost daily? Now, into my third year, finding time seems more difficult than ever. It doesn’t make sense. So, I’m going to test a theory out. My theory is that because I made time to reflect and think about things – I therefore actually gave myself more time because I was able to clearly prioritise and was giving more focused thought to the bigger issues while gaining a clearer perspective. We’ll see if my theory proves correct……
So, I’m thinking about ‘change’ again. In education, change is a constant. Usually, fear and doubt settle in when change is afoot, but at the moment our school seems to be thriving with it. We have all been discussing our assessment system – us alongside every other school around at the moment. We have been talking about marking and tracking and what the purpose of all of it is. The conversations we have been having have been revolving around what we do and the reasons behind them. Why do we do what we do?
We have molded ourselves into an Ofsted culture. We think that for marking to be ‘good’ we have to have masses of green ink on our children’s pages to prove to the headteacher/management/Ofsted that we are doing our jobs. But what does this really do? We then talk about how ensuring children respond to feedback helps them to understand their mistakes, reinforce their learning or challenge them to go that next step. But does it? We have to ask ourselves if what we are doing is actually helping our children to progress. Does it have an impact on their learning? Does it really make a difference? Who is it for?
Alongside this we have talked about assessment. I have held off on purchasing a whole school tracking system. It seems every school around us has bought into a different scheme. During head’s meetings I have been sitting there rather tense, thinking perhaps I should have joined the bandwagon and just found a system and worked with it. Then I read the Commission on Assessment without Levels. The deputy read it too. We discussed it in the staff meetings and realised that what we were doing was right. We were doing what fit with our school…..with our children…..how can that ever be the wrong thing? So at the moment we are still working it out. We are trialing different things and finding something that works for all of us, but mainly for our children. This is the reason anything should be developed in the first place, for the benefit of the children.
Further, I sent the deputy on a ‘Learning Without Limits’ day at Wroxham this past week. I would have loved to attend, but thought it would be better for someone else to go with a different viewpoint. They came back full of ideas and inspiration. This transition we are in is exciting and thrilling. I finally feel as though we can do what we know is right. It is a chance for us to start fresh with a new approach – an approach truly centred on every individual child. Yes, it is change again – we all complain of change……but this is such a fantastic opportunity to do things with results and reasons…..with a purpose.
The conversations that we are all having around school are rich and vibrant…..this change has created excitement and a renewed vision around what we do in our classrooms.
We are finally going to be able to do everything with a ‘purpose.’ Assessment will actually mean something tangible and relevant…..it will always help us to improve what we do…..not just be comprised of percentages and numbers that don’t ever tell the whole story…..