Inspiring Professional Practice
Action learning is a protocol that gives everyone a voice in school improvement, and – by encouraging you to plan and take actions for yourselves – ultimately builds a culture of collective efficacy.
The Action Learning cycle is a step-by-step framework to follow in your group to promote discussion and professional reflection. By discussing ideas, theories and making plans, educators are more likely to take actions that significantly improve education.
Use the downloads on this page in your Action Learning Group meetings [or PLC’s] to start a reflective conversation, then make a plan for action together and try some ideas out in the classroom as a result!
Downloadable resources to inspire professional dialogue!
Action Learning Group Meeting 1
View video animation
Watch the animated video (11 minutes) as a group and discuss your reflections on it. You might want to use these questions to guide your conversation:
- What is the key purpose/intention of the Learning Pit model?
- What does Challenge mean to your students currently?
- How do your students deal with struggle?
- How might the Learning Pit help your students?
- If you wanted to introduced the Learning Pit to your students, what would you do?
Action Learning Group Meeting 2
Effective Questioning: play podcast
Listen to this podcast as a group and discuss your reflections on it. You might use these questions to guide your conversation:
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’?
Action Learning Group Meeting 3
Read the article in your group and discuss your reflections on it. You might use these questions to guide your conversation:
- How do your students know the value of talk in your classroom?
- What are the rules for talk in your classroom?
- Having read the article, how would you typically describe the type of talk which occur in your lessons?
- How do you promote dialogic talk with your students?
- How could you ensure that ‘vacating the floor’ would enable your students to share meaning and explore ideas?
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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!