I was working only last week with a school that provides education for secondary aged children with social, emotional and behavioural needs, on full and part time placements. Additionally it offers support for primary aged pupils on a similar basis. We had already completed 2 days of BLP training together in November, and I had set the 12 teachers I had been working with the challenge of undertaking a learning enquiry.
Typically such an enquiry is conducted in an area of interest for the individual teacher, and might be along the lines of ‘If I assign roles to individuals before starting group work, will their inclination to engage purposefully with each other improve?’ or ‘If I stop repeating myself, will their listening skills improve?’ etc. Notice that the teacher makes a conscious decision to change one of their existing teaching behaviours and monitors the impact that this has on their students.
The day last week began with all 12 feeding back on their enquiries and the impact on their students. The feedback was fascinating in that all teachers had devised, quite independently, an enquiry that required students to take a greater responsibility for themselves as learners.
A science teacher described one of the enquiries thus:
The room erupted with similar stories of potentially difficult students rising to challenge and ‘doing it for themselves’. One teacher commented “We never really believed our students could do this, but we were wrong!”
When asked what the common threads were through all of their enquiries, one teacher simply said “student power – give them responsibility and they will rise to it”.
A cynic (for there always is one in any group) observed wryly that “If we carry on empowering them like this, we will never be able to reintegrate them into mainstream schooling!!”
What a privilege to work alongside teachers such as these. I may just have the best job in the world!