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So you want to enquire into your practice?

So,you want to enquire into your practice? What are the  possible benefits and what are the possible issues you need to consider? The following is based on you understanding practitioner enquiry, and what it entails, thoroughly and you have apply these properly. The schools I lead are into our fifth year of such a process.

Raised attainment and achievement for all learners. I don't know about you, but this is the first requirement I have for all developments.
Deeper understanding of learning for teachers. They better understand learning, their impact on this, and how to deconstruct learning to aid all their learners.
Leads to critically informed teaching. Teachers use data and research to inform their teaching and to critically reflect on their practice.
Teacher confidence improves. As their knowledge and understanding develops, and they better understand how to address gaps in pupil learning, they gain confidence in heir ability to meet the learning needs of all pupils.
Teacher leadership and collaboration are promoted. As confidence and collaboration improves many teachers develop self-agency, the ability to lead others, and to seek such opportunities as part of an ongoing process of development.
Professional dialogue and the learning culture within a school is enhanced. When teachers collaborate to look closely at learning and their practice a culture based on learning is promoted and developed.
The professional identity of teachers changes. Such development promotes transformative learning in individuals and their professional identity changes as new thinking, understanding and practice becomes embedded.

Such an approach is like Pandora's Box. Once you and colleagues go down this route it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to go back to old ways of working. 
It's messy and its complex. This is no linear development and I can guarantee that there will be times when you need to stop, change tack and even go backwards, as you react to how your journey is progressing.
It's challenging. This is no easy option and it will throw up many challenges to your thinking, perceptions and practice. There will be other challenges that are associated with the implementation of such an approach too.
At the outset, a 'critical friend' or support from someone who deeply understands the process is crucial. Leaders and teachers will need support from someone who is experienced and informed.
Such an approach requires an open and supportive culture, based on trust. Teachers need to feel safe and supported, in order to make mistakes and be innovative.
Senior management, including headteachers, need to support and be involved in the process. Only by being fully engaged in the development of such approaches can they understand the demands, and be able to support teachers.
Schools need good processes of self-evaluation so they know where they are starting from. You need to start from where you really are, not where you think you are.
One size does not fit all. Context is crucial and the process needs adjusting to the context of each school.
Care needs to be paid to the pace of change. Too fast and you leave people behind, often slowing down is the best option to give everyone the time to assimilate and embed change into their practice.

This has been a quick post on the benefits and warnings regarding the adoption of practitioner enquiry, by individuals and schools. If you are interested, and I think you should be, go to the GTCS website for more information on this, or you could just keep doing what you have always done for professional development.


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