Part 7 of 10. Meet Jonas Fors, Head of School, and his colleagues who have new perspectives after 450 lesson observations

Meet Jonas Fors, Head of School, and his colleagues who have new perspectives after 450 lesson observations

This is about a spring term 2019 professional development-day for all 17 schools in Ludvika municipality. A day when all teachers had the opportunity to analyse and discuss statistics and reports from BRAVOLesson that gave them and Jonas Fors a clear picture of how they start and end their lessons.
It is also about the planning for the next two academic years in Ludvika – a step by step plan to achieve better and better teaching and learning – that is related to singer Tommy Nilsson’s most famous love song.

Teaching analytics for shared reflection
From October to the end of January 2019, 450 observations of the start of and the end of lessons were completed in the 17 schools in Ludvika,. With the help of BRAVOLesson, it was possible to analyse and share statistics both from a school and a municipality perspective around each dimension that was included in the observation forms.

The analysis showed, for example, that the majority of all lessons started with focusing on helping the pupils understand the intention of each lesson and getting started with the tasks.

     – We could also see that a development area is how the lessons are ended. ‘In almost half of the lessons, the teacher did not, or to a small extent, summarise what the lesson was about and in almost 60 percent of the lessons the pupils did not, or to a small extent, have the opportunity to reflect on their learning’, says Anders Bobäck, development manager in the municipality of Ludvika.

 

The analysis became a focus for discussions during the Ludvika schools’ professional development-day on 15th February.

     – We saw that we could improve both how we start and end lessons, especially how we finish our lessons. At our school we discussed the templates and the statistics. We discussed and gave each other tips and ideas on how to best finish a lesson. The conclusion helps me as a teacher to plan lessons ahead, says Sara Graniti, teacher at Knutsbo school.

 

“We saw that we could improve both how we start and end lessons, especially how we finish our lessons.”

Sara Graniti, teacher at Knutsbo school

 

A guide on how to implement systematic focus on teaching
During the Autumn term of 2018, Ludvika began to work according to a new specific plan that focused on developing and improving the teaching at all the schools. The plan is part of Ludvika developing the structure for school improvement and performance management. They have asked for support from Successful Schools and use their handbook The Model for inspiration.

Ludvika was among the first to use the new whitepaper and guide from Successful Schools and BRAVOLesson:  A guide for how to write a plan and implement a systematic approach to improve teaching step by step plan.

     – ‘The guide accelerated our process and helped transform our ideas into a concrete, clear and systematic plan. All of a sudden we had a tool that gave us courage to move on from the theory stage’, says Anders Bobäck, development manager in Ludvika municipality.

 

 

“The guide accelerated our process and helped transform our ideas into a concrete, clear and systematic plan. All of a sudden we had a tool that gave us courage to move on from the theory stage.”

Anders Bobäck, development manager in Ludvika municipality


The core of the school’s systematic quality work
At the start of autumn term 2019, Ludvik’s own concrete plan was ready. The plan focuses on how to improve teaching and learning in all schools. The plans overall aim is to develop “a collaborative culture where it is natural for teachers to study their and others ‘teaching to develop the students’ learning together”. The plan’s name is Open your door and say you want me here.

     – It was when we were working with on our plan that Swedish singer Tommy Nilsson’s old love song suddenly began to ring in my head. Opening the door for colleagues is exactly what it is about. To help and share ideas to develop the teaching together and build a learning culture, says Anders Bobäck, development manager.

“It was when we were working on our plan that Swedish singer Tommy Nilsson’s old love song suddenly began to ring in my head. Opening the door to for colleagues is exactly what it is about.”

Anders Bobäck, development manager in Ludvika municipality

Focus on one thing at a time in all classrooms
The first step in the plan involves focusing only on the start and end of lessons, without a connection to a specific person / teacher. It focuses on the principals carrying out short observations – 10 minutes at the start of a lesson and 10-15 minutes at the end of a lesson, to initially get an overall picture of the teaching around these two aspects. Something that takes relatively little time, but that can have a major impact on the quality of teaching and learning. Advice in the guide ‘for better and better teaching’ is not to start at “100 km per hour” but instead start with something that takes reasonable time, but has great impact on learning. After that, you can prioritise and plan how to carry out observations and feedback to teachers in a manageable way, in an ever day school context.

In October 2018, all principals received a 30-minute introduction in BRAVOLesson, the tool chosen for the systematic work for better and better teaching. Start-and-end-of-lesson observations were identified as the highest priority task. It was the starting point for all the principals to carry out observations on all their teachers.

Anchoring at both principal and teacher level
All teachers viewed and had the opportunity to give input into the observation forms that would be used (take a look at the observation form in BRAVOLesson’s library on the web – see example 1.15).

     – The decision to observe something that takes relatively little time was a common driver for the team of principals. ‘With the statistics from BRAVOLesson, I have had a basis to discuss with both the principals who started their observations and with those who for various reasons had challenges that slowed them down from getting started. With BRAVOLesson, I know if the work that we have prioritised really is carried out at each school or not’, says Head of School Jonas Fors.

 

“With BRAVOLesson, I know if the work that we have prioritized really is carried out at each school or not.”

 

Jonas Fors, Head of School, Ludvika Municipality

     – ‘I think it has worked well to use BRAVOLesson at the visits to the classrooms. In practical terms, it is easy to use a digital tool in connection with the lesson observations. I follow the lesson and click quickly in the areas that are the basis for my observation. I also write comments and take notes’, says Agneta Carlsson-Byström, Principal at Church School 7-9.

 

“I follow the lesson and click quickly in the areas that are the base for my observation.”

 

Agneta Carlsson-Byström, Principal at Church School 7-9

Work now continues in Ludvika. The next steps are:
– More focus on the start and end of lessons with individual feedback to each teacher.
– Build trust and an open climate where teachers feel empowered in conversations and reflection of each other’s and their own teaching.
– Focus on the leadership in the classroom – a dimension that has great impact on the quality of teaching and learning.

     – ‘This is a very important part of our vision and the work for Ludvika to become one of the 25 per cent best school municipalities in Sweden by 2020’, says Jonas Fors.

“Now the work continues in Ludvika… Focus on the leadership in the classroom – a dimension that has great impact on the quality of teaching and learning.”

 

The schools in Ludvika all have a school license
At each school, these observation forms are included for use in BRAVOLesson. In addition, the module BRAVOLesson Analytics has been selected for statistics on aggregated municipality level.

 

Relaterade nyheter

Part 6 of 10. The process from lesson observations through to the appraisal meetings with the teachers

Meet principal Sven-Erik Berg who has created a
systematic process from lesson observations
to the appraisal meetings

This is about how Sven-Erik Berg at Stenbackeskolan in Uddevalla, step by step since 2014, has created his structure to have both insight and overview of the entire learning process that he is responsible for leading. This is about how he has become more and more focused on, and how he can now personally follow, what really takes place in the students’ learning processes.

In 2014, Sven-Erik began to focus more on the entire teaching process. In 2015, he started to use the Swedish School Inspection’s form for lesson observations to analyse what is happening in the classroom, both from the pupils’ and teachers’ perspective. In 2018 he decided on using BRAVOLesson.

The process from classroom visits to appraisal meetings
    – I have chosen to put the form and documentation for the appraisal meetings into BRAVOLesson to ensure that I can make and analyse feedback from these meetings over time. It is also a very good compilation of the professional conversations along with the lesson observation and there is a portfolio for each teacher inside the system. In the conversation, we link it together with the teacher’s own view and outcome. We reflect together and decide on new individual focus areas for what to improve using the objectives module in BRAVOLesson. 

 

“. . .  it spread in the staff room when several explained that it felt like you were allowed to participate with your own reflections for real.”

Why did you choose BRAVOLesson?
     – When we learned about BRAVOLesson, it seemed obvious to try to create a core school improvement structure. It gives me, as a legally responsible principal, a tool where I can gather all documentation, objectives, planning and fulfillment for each individual teacher,  says Sven-Erik.
    – I myself choose the focus area for each period or term which is then the base for what observation points that we use. In BRAVOLesson I can also add video clips that we then use in the follow-up conversation with the individual teacher, for a team or for all staff..

How was it to get started with BRAVOLesson?
     – After some communication back and forth before the decision, all that was needed were email addresses for all staff and to choose observation forms from BRAVOLesson’s online library. The platform is easy to understand and easy to use. There is a help function inside BRAVOLesson which I sometimes use to understand how to use the different features.
     – During spring I used an observation form that is based mostly on the Swedish School Inspection’s observation form. All teachers have had at least one visit.

How have the teachers reacted to the system and your focus?
     – At first, some teachers were a bit uncertain, but it spread in the staff room when several explained that it felt like you were allowed to participate with your own reflections for real. All teachers have also been video-filmed to watch each other’s films together as part of collaborative learning.

What has BRAVOLesson led to so far – what effect has it had?
     – I myself have experienced my work more professionally. The structure that BRAVOLesson offers helps me to document, plan and follow up on all employees and their learning and development process. I have done lesson visits when I looked at the teachers’ lesson plan in advance and used an observation form that was mostly designed based on the School Inspectorate form. All teachers have had at least one visit. This has given us a more comprehensive pedagogical dialogue that has led to joint decisions on changes in our processes and classrooms.

“This summer I can go on vacation and feel that my pedagogical leadership is in place. It will be clear and easy to start the next school year in August. ”

Principal Sven-Erik at Stenbackeskolan has a single-user licens
He has been inspired by the BRAVOLesson library with observation templates. 

Related Stories

Part 5 of 10. Improve teaching in every classroom by thinking about the dimensions that make a difference

BRAVOLesson blog May 3rd 
All pupils and students deserve fantastic teaching
and all teachers deserve constructive feedback!
That is the core of school improvement.

 

 A systematic approach to improve teaching. Our ten part series continues – this is part 5.

Few other professionals get so little feedback as Western teachers according to an article in the magazine The Economist. Surveys in Sweden and our market research in other Nordic countries as well as in continental Europe point in the same direction. ***
Part 5 adresses two things, how schools use an observation template and alternative “thinking” that leads to improvements that affect the students’ learning in all classrooms as of the first semester.

The Swedish Schools Inspectorate’s observation template is the most commonly used observation template for lesson observations in Swedish schools. Their template is based on research on what are the dimensions of good teaching – general-didactic qualities.

Many think and work like this
Many people perceive The Swedish Schools Inspectorate’s observation template as very extensive. This means that those who use it often make notes in the observation template around certain parts individually for a teacher, around other parts individually for the next teacher and partly other parts individually for a third teacher. See the illustration below.

Alternative thinking – a more systematic approach

“Now, all teachers at our school / in our municipality will together become really skilled at some of the most important dimensions of good teaching to support the students’ learning. We will focus on one dimension at a time.”

This approach is based on the following conditions and ambitions

  • Collaborative learning is the objective, but at the same time, the principal is legally responsible for ensuring that the teaching is of high quality throughout the school.
  • If feedback to teachers is a neglected area then let us start with what can make a big difference in a short time.
  • To take the first step in a way where we use reasonable amount of time to make sure that it will happen. 

To carry this out you can develop a plan and use different observation templates for how to take one dimension at a time during a couple of academic years. All observations during one semester have a specific focus and another focus during the following semester. Along this route you also move more and more towards individual teacher feedback.

Possible steps – one dimension at a time

  • The structure of teaching – the beginning and the end of the lesson.
  • Teachers’ leadership in the classroom. Without the leadership and strategies for a learning environment “teaching” and learning does not take place.
  • Teachers’ skills around asking student questions.
  • Teachers’ formative approach in the classroom.

You will find examples for all these four areas in our open library with different templates for lesson observations. Templates that all can be selected and used in BRAVOLesson.

It is, among other things, about how you can write a plan for this thinking that you can read about in our Guide to implement a systematic approach to improve teaching. Download it via the button below.
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* The Economist (June 11th – 17th). How to make a good teacher.  : 13, 21-24. 2016.
**    Skolledaren/Lärarnas Riksförbunds lärarpanel. Den osynlige rektorn. 2017
**  Successful Schools Swedens/BRAVOLessons undersökning via  Novus. Konstruktiv feedback kring undervisning. 2016 
_______________________________

We hope you will follow our series! It will continue until the summer of 2019 with one new part every two weeks.

Greetings from the BRAVOLesson Team

Download our free white paper

 

Easy to use online tools to improve teaching 

 

+46 (0)10 - 516 40 90

Part 4 of 10. This is how schools and school districts handle the first and biggest challenge

BRAVOLesson blog April 5th 
All pupils and students deserve fantastic teaching 
and all teachers deserve constructive feedback! 
That is the core of school improvement.

 

 A systematic approach to improve teaching. Our ten part series continues – this is part 4.

Some schools and municipalities/school districts get going with a systematic approach and others do not. We have previously described that feedback to teachers is not only about systematics but also about collaborating and improving together – to be recognised as a teacher and experience increased work satisfaction. To get to that, we have recognised a pattern; It is about systematics and a concrete plan.
Those who get going start by creating a plan and then being transparent about What to do and How. They hand out responsibilities, set goals, work collaboratively and follow up. Nothing is new under the sun.

In our previous blog we adressed the 4 + 2 challenges to achieve systematic focus on how to improve teaching. The first challenge is to prioritise – to prioritise, organise and to use time for working with one of the key characteristics of successful school. ***  

“All schools work with school improvement, but very few schools have a concrete plan for how to improve teaching systematically.”

Download our example
In our guide there is an example of a plan that helps you tackle the 4 + 2 challenges for systematic feedback to teachers – for their own reflection on teaching. The plan is based on the principal’s legal responsibility for the quality of the teaching. It also has the objective of achieving collaborative learning – that, it step by step, becomes natural for teachers to give and receive feedback in order to systematically develop the teaching together. Download our example via the link below.

PS. We know that we have used the word “systematically” seven times in this blog. Sorry!… however, that’s just the right word.

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*** Sources:
Hargreaves, A. & Fullan, M. (2012). Professional capital: Transforming teaching in every school. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Leithwood, Jantz & Steinbach (2002) Changing Leadership for Changing Times. Buckingham: Open University Press

_______________________________

We hope you will follow our series! It will continue until the summer of 2019 with one new part every two weeks.

Greetings from the BRAVOLesson Team

Download our free white paper

 

Easy to use online tools to improve teaching 

 

+46 (0)10 - 516 40 90

Part 3 of 10. The four + two key challenges for a systematic approach to improve teaching

BRAVOLesson blog March 14th 
All pupils and students deserve fantastic teaching 
and all teachers deserve constructive feedback! 
That is the core of school improvement.

 

 A systematic approach to improve teaching. Our ten part series continues – this is part 3.

Our survey, carried out in Sweden, included questions to 
primary, secondary and upper secondary school teachers. The survey showed that teaching is a lonely profession, with teachers receiving little support or guidance. 
Only every tenth teacher gets feedback on their teaching from a school leader, a colleague or a coach. OECD Statistics indicate that only every fourth teacher gets perspective on their own and their colleagues teaching. ***

 

This means:

  • A fantastic opportunity for education and schools!
  • There are schools already successfully working with a systematic approach already.


This leads to questions like: How do they think and what do they do?  
We wanted to get answers to the these questions and we subsequently organised a conference, ”Öppna klassrumsdörrarna” (”Open the classroom doors”), in Stockholm in April 2018. Researchers, experts, experienced school leaders and teachers met to share their experiences. When we reviewed the experiences together with other things that research has shown to be important dimensions of good teaching, we could conclude the following:                                                                                                                             

 

Their are four + two key challenges for successful implementation of systematic approach:                     

  1. Trust

  2. Time and priorities
  3. Evidence-based systematics 

  4. The quality of the feedback                                                                                         
    You also need to:    
  1. Be sure that agreed work will be completed     
  2. Be able to measure progress – the dimensions that have been successful and which still need to be developed                 


Our white paper helps you to tackle these four + two key challenges.

_____________________________

*** Sources:
– Successful Schools Swedens/BRAVOLessons survey via Novus. Konstruktiv feedback kring undervisning. 2016
– How to make a good teacher.  The Economist (June 11th – 17th): 13, 21-24. 2016.

_____________________________

We hope you will follow our series! It will continue until the summer of 2019 with one new part every two weeks. 

Greetings from the BRAVOLesson Team

Download our free white paper

 

Easy to use online tools to improve teaching 

 

+46 (0)10 - 516 40 90