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The Dialogic Learning Weekly #149

Welcome to this issue of the weekly newsletter. Today a focus on some coaching principles that influe
The Dialogic Learning Weekly
The Dialogic Learning Weekly #149
By Tom Barrett • Issue #149 • View online
Welcome to this issue of the weekly newsletter. Today a focus on some coaching principles that influence the way I go about that pillar of my work. I have also included some information about an emerging “learning walk” process that we are developing at the Adelaide Botanic High School (ABHS) where I have spent a couple of days this week.

Curiosity Coach
No one will take a risk if they feel like they will be kicked in the teeth for landing on their face when trying something new.
One of the highlights of running my own business has been to work in Shanghai with Dr Neil Hopkin. A few years ago I established a partnership with the British International School in Shanghai (BISS) and supported their emerging STEM and Design Thinking curriculum programmes as well as facilitating strategy development with the leadership team.
Neil was the Principal and I learned first hand about the model of coaching he and his team were establishing. In the article below he explains some of the drivers for the model and the mechanics of making it happen.
Neil values curiosity and embodies it too. This was a key starting point for the BISS coaching model, to encourage teachers to be curious about their practice, and in some cases re-discover that curiosity.
“We’re looking for people to make that international statement of learning: aahh,” Hopkin said. If coaching can help stimulate curiosity in teachers to continue improving and trying new things, then it has done its job in his mind.
When Coaching Teachers Has Curiosity As Its Primary Goal | MindShift
Practiced Non-Judgementalism
Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply
I am always striving to “be more coach like” (as Michael Bungay Stanier would challenge us to do) and a key disposition I have been deliberately practicing is awareness of my judgement.
Staying neutral and non-judgemental is a bigger challenge than you might think. According to Elisha Goldstein,
left alone, the brain will automatically judge things as good or bad, right or wrong, fair or unfair, important or unimportant, urgent or non-urgent
Practiced Non-Judgementalism is a coaching principle I learned (and had modelled) by Neil Hopkin during one of my visits to Shanghai. You might summarise it in the following way:
When we evaluate and judge, we impose premature closure, we arrest thinking and dialogue, we waste energy seeking one answer and miss the interesting lines of inquiry, we listen with the intent to reply.
When we listen without imposing judgement, we keep the dialogue open and exploratory, we waste no energy seeking one answer, we focus our efforts on better questions, we listen to understand.
Practiced Non-Judgementalism – Tom Barrett's Blog
Seeing the Complex Experience of Learning
Our working norms should just become normal
During my work at the Adelaide Botanic High School this week we have been exploring some new models of a ‘learning walk’ or 'instructional round’. These precedents are not new, but they can get skewed towards evaluation and judgement (see above).
We are building a composite model that is developmental, in that it is about participants curiosity, learning and growth; dialogic, we create time and safe spaces to explore new ideas and insights with light facilitation; responsive and flexible, we are considering a core protocol that can be adapted into many forms or versions without losing the first principles.
Three questions help guide dialogue amongst teachers:
  • What do you notice? (Listing factual observations without judgement or evaluation.)
  • How do these ideas connect with our experience? (Reflecting on what is meaningful to us, to our practice and our teams)
  • How might we extend our practice? (Considering the broader patterns that we see, new ideas that resonate and broader questions we are curious about)
A long term goal is to normalise staff (and students) seeing learning taking place in different settings, making this valuable learning experience accessible to all.
EL Education - School Visit Learning Walk Protocol
Thanks for exploring this week’s newsletter, drop me a note if you are interested in learning more about the coaching services I offer or any of the ideas I have shared. Have a great weekend.
See you again next time.
~ Tom 
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Tom Barrett

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