Sunday, 8 June 2014

Post presentation reflections, Hattie activators and the power of feedback

After finishing my sabbatical report on engaging learners in deep learning almost two weeks ago, I was encouraged by Mary Wootton to give a presentation to the Southern Regional Learning and Change Network on Thursday.

Mary Wootton  is the Lead Facilitator of Learning and Change Networks across NZ who is an inspiring role model and leader. Mary was one of the educators I chose to send my draft report to and she responded with thirty-four comments ! I reflected on these and along with other valuable feedback from my 'team of experts', I made some minor alterations and included reference to a video from Ings on the Death of the Essay recommended by Dr Brian Annan in my final report.

Mary's constructive feedback and comments enabled me to reflect further and challenged me to learn and grow. All learners need this gentle push. I liken this to Hattie's description of teachers as activators of learning who have an effect size 0.72 compared with 0.19 when teachers are facilitators (remember anything below 0.4 is not worth considering ). Activators are 'deliberate change agents...directors of learning ... learning is intense, buzzing, and risky.' (Hattie 2009 p 24,25)

The presentation was a challenge for me, not because I don't like presenting but because I like to be well prepared. Working full time and being whisked away by my loving husband to Queenstown for my birthday during the long weekend before the presentation left me with very little time. Yet, the valuable opportunity  to share my work was a driver along with Mary herself. In the past, for formal presentations, I have spent several weeks reflecting on key points, creating visuals and practicing. This presentation moved me out of my comfort zone and I just had to go for it!!

I am grateful to my very supportive and willing Whitestone LCN team who bought the sweets & lead the interactive discussion times, shared the videos, gave out the handouts, shared the reflections and their views and urged me on. It was rewarding to receive positive feedback about the presentation but as a learner it's the next steps we need to hear that will drive deeper reflection, learning and change. This open feedback from Mary will drive improvement in any future presentations of my work.
"Personally I thought the use of video today as a taster was a great strategy to use and also scheduling time for the groups to interact and link to their context throughout the presentation.
Well done on mixing up the groups- many have tried across the country and it is VERY difficult for people to leave the comfort of their networks!!
I was alerted to a dilemma today that is worth considering- what do we do as leaders or teachers or facilitators or students- when half the people have read the report, or whatever prior to a session and half haven't. The presenter can't go through the report as half have read it and would be disengaged, however the people who haven't read it prior have no prior knowledge to bring to the setting. 
One solution might  be to  do a "short, sharp and shiny" overview at the start for those who have not read the report. 
Or to be more interactive divide the group in 2 those who have read and those who haven't get them to pair up- and the reader can summarise key findings and the non-reader can listen and question. Then maybe people might then have a better idea about what they might want some more information about- the co-construction at the end." Mary Wootton (5th June 2014)
Those of you who have read the report will know that my next goal is to prepare an engaging video to encapsulate the essence of the report. I aim for this to be the 'short,sharp and shiny' overview that Mary refers to in her feedback. In hindsight, the page in my report about disengagement and my next steps that I shared with my staff when introducing them to the report would have also been a simple yet powerful way to share my learning (click here for this link). I will keep all of this in mind for my next presentation.

In conclusion, the high quality co construction and coordination of the Southern Regional Networking day in Christchurch by Mary, the inspiring presentation from Sheena Campbell and Ollie Baker from Stonefields School and the interaction, enthusiasm and willingness to learn and change from all participants meant that the day was a huge success.

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