When we planned this year’s Learning Festival, we made sure that sessions were being offered on areas of practice departments knew they needed development in. As the offers of workshops were confirmed, it became clear that the ‘measuring’ of progress was somewhat lacking. I stepped up to offer something – mainly as this is an area of my practice that I’ve struggled with- generally finding that any in-session ILPs I’d come across were a tick-box exercise (essentially functioning as a log activity on top of a session rather than a meaningful activity designed to further learning and not hinder it) and hardly ever designed to engage students in the deep reflection required for learning to be successful. I felt it might be of some use for me to share both my struggle and my learning journey with staff. As the day drew nearer, it occurred to me that I possibly wouldn’t be the ‘expert’ my colleagues might be expecting (never having quite struck a ‘perfect’ solution myself) and so I would enable discussion and exploration instead.
Their ‘rulers’ were paper ones from IKEA- I don’t really advocate you taking (stealing!) as many as I did but it was worth it!
I set out what they could expect from the session early:I made clear my view that learning is rather difficult to ‘quantify’ due to its nature of ups and downs, backs and forths, failures, debunking of what we thought we knew to be true…
I’m unsure how successful this reflection activity was bu the idea was for each of them to reflect on this concept of learning being particularly tricky to measure- like the perimeter of a pair of star shaped glasses- certainly not impossible but a challenge. I have taken inspiration from the pair sat on my desk!
My colleague, Helen Hayes, also thinks that an active volcano would be a pretty challenging thing to measure due its ever-changing nature (and the fact that you wouldn’t want to be anywhere near it!)
I shared with my workshop participants that perception plays such a huge role as teachers- just because it seems as though progress has been made, how can we really be sure that’s the case? Equally, where we think little progress has been made, the students have merely been engaging in the important struggle part of their learning journey and are ready to accelerate at a much quicker rate in a subsequent session.
I shared my hope that the session would provide them a little more confidence in talking to others about the progress being made by their learners.
I then gave a couple of minutes individual silent reflection time- a rare luxury! I didn’t ask them to share this reflection but just to have completed it for themselves so that it could frame the session for them.
I also shared the variety of things they could choose to ‘measure’ (not just the things they might automatically choose to):
When planning my session, I found I had numerous resources to share with them but it all seemed so haphazard- I needed some structure. I came up with 4 stages of ‘measuring’ progress that could be followed and they’d explore resources related to each (mainly thanks to Shaun Williams, @thebadpedagogue!)
This list is certainly not exhaustive yet and I’d love to develop it some more:
All resources and ideas have been made available electronically here (once you’ve clicked to access the collection below, just double-click to open each individual resource):
The afternoon provided the chance for some of my participants to explore the ideas they’d been presented with and how these could be implemented in their sessions (mainly on a 1 page sheet that covers each of the 4 stages of ‘measuring’ progress. I’d be interested in any ideas you might have in relation to ‘measuring’ progress as I move forward- or backwards- or up- or down- with my learning.