This week was R.I.S.E Week at St Christopher's. It was a week centred around our work as educators, our core business, teaching. Each teacher was asked to create a 10 minute video of practice (VOP) and share it with their R.I.S.E partner and vice versa. The intention was to complete a self reflection based on the video and have your partner critique your lesson and give feedback. From there, time was spent in dialogue, creating new ideas together in attempt to come up with a plan for improving classroom practice of both members of the pair. Below are my reflections on R.I.S.E Week.
My greatest challenge with regard to R.I.S.E Week was finding purpose. I had originally planned to film myself teaching a lesson in either K or Year 3 for the purpose of sharing with my partner, Emily. I struggled with the idea for a number of weeks as I could not define the purpose of filming 10 minutes of a lesson that was in isolation and not likely to be repeated in order to improve practice (as I am no longer on class). Finally on Tuesday I came up with an idea that was both relevant and purposeful. I was to run a series of collaborative thinking sessions with Tom Barrett, with each grade on Tuesday and Wednesday. As Tom and I have completed a number of similar sessions and I plan on continuing the work we carry out, I thought this gave me an opportunity to reflect on my own work and seek feedback from my R.I.S.E partner. The only difference being that I was not to film the session (I felt it would take away from the vulnerable sharing nature of the sessions) and I would instead ask Emily to give feedback based on her experience of the session.
Emily shared her video and we carried out the Evaluate stage of the R.I.S.E. on Thursday.
From my own self reflections I recorded several affirmations and number of challenges. Emily shared what she believed worked well in the session and also some critique around areas that she felt could be improved. I really appreciated Emily's ability to be 'hard on content and soft on the person' with her critique and the information she shared will be invaluable in developing and improving my practice.
Overall, the session was a valuable one. Protocols were well utilised to shape the collaborative space and each member of the team filled the space with their thinking. The dialogue was robust and the mutual trust enabled each member to share vulnerability around the issue of deep curriculum knowledge. Laptops were not used, instead we chose to put "brains on the table", enabling each member of the team to be present and not float away into their other distractions often related to emails etc. The process itself, looking deeply at one particular outcome in literacy and exploring each and every word for its relevance and purpose was rewarding.
Challenges & Learning based on challenges
Though the session was a successful one, there were a number of challenges unearthed through my own self reflection and through Emily's purposeful critique. Firstly, in recognition of constraints common of any school, time was a factor. The session itself was just starting to show incredibly exciting promise when we had to call an end to it and see the Kindy team off. This is something that needs to be considered when planning future sessions. Also, more time could have been spent at the beginning of the session outlining the intentions, ensuring that the purpose of why we had gathered was clear. I believe, as part of my own reflections, that small 'check in's' could have be utilised to ensure that each member of the group was feeling part of the process. This is something I am always mindful or and is perhaps tied to the aforementioned time factor. Like the lack of clarity with regard to intentions, the expectations around journalling a reflection piece was also unintentionally missed and was "dropped in" at the end if the session. The end of the session lacked a summary and Emily and I both shared that this may have had an impact on the overall clarity that we sought in the session. This is of utmost important for future session, like in any classroom, a plenary is key!
My goal for future sessions is multi-stepped:
Ensure time is spent on intentions, develop clarity of purpose for the collaborative group
Be mindful of the timing of the session, either be realistic of what will fit or extend the time
Build in 'check ins' with the group to ensure thinking space is still strong
Allow time for summation of group thought, a plenary
Some of this will require me to so some research/reading about how to complete each with success.
Future planning and practice
I will take all of my own self reflections, along with Emily's valuable critique and ensure that my goals are met in planning future sessions of collaborative thinking with my colleagues. I will be engaging in some reading around the issues raised and also be speaking with Tom who I often seek guidance from in this kind of work.
Comment on the R.I.S.E process itself
Overall, the R.I.S.E process has been a challenging and incredibly rewarding one. In speaking for myself, I always appreciate the opportunity to engage in dialogue around our core work and having the privilege to do so with my colleagues is invaluable.
I think the entire week ran smoothly and I look forward to chatting with my colleagues in the coming weeks about their experience and their goals.
Thank you to all involved, what a fantastic week of learning, something that I think that we should all be proud of.