Reflective practice and feedback in leadership and management

Reflective practice is a feature of good teaching and learning. It’s important for governors and managers in education too.

Last week WEA Trustees and senior managers met to work on the next stages of our strategic planning. We used critical thinking and questioning to challenge any ‘fixed mind-sets’ in the planning process. Our working principles for more detailed strategic planning included the following:

1. Stick to core principles – education first
We agreed not to work on finance and funding strategies until we had focused on the priorities and direction of our educational work. Our vision, mission and values are central to planning. We concentrated on plans to improve outcomes for our students and their communities based on our prioritised themes of employability, health and wellbeing, community engagement and culture.

StrategicPlan-Graphic_thumb

2. Avoid the ‘echo chamber’ effect
We recognise that talking among ourselves could lead to predictable thinking as we read the runes, even within a lively, democratic organisation, unless we consider other sources of information and interpretation. Contributions from external experts can ginger up our approach to strategic planning and help us to review our work in the light of wider social, economic, policy and educational trends.

3. Keep challenging stereotypes
People are individuals with different interests, talents or aspirations, whatever their circumstances. Inclusion has to be on the basis of personal aims, ambitions and circumstances and not on a patronising tick-box approach. There’s more about some of our current work on equality and diversity at http://betterforeveryone.wordpress.com/.

4. Empathy and involvement
We discussed the need to think about things from the perspectives of students, tutors, volunteers and partners, trying to see the impact of plans from their points of views. We recognise the dangers of second guessing other people’s opinions on their behalf without wider, inclusive discussions.

5. Identify historical ‘drag’ factors that slow down progress
We challenged the attitude of, “We can’t change this because we’ve always done things this way.”

The meeting released some fresh questions and ideas to discuss at Scottish, regional and local levels in England and was a productive way to review and update strategic planning assumptions.

Meeting the matrix Standard
We received the feedback from an intensive two-and-a–half week assessment for the matrix Standard on the day after our Strategy Day. (The lower case m isn’t a typo.)

The matrix Standard is the unique quality framework for the effective delivery of information, advice and/or guidance on learning and work. It promotes the delivery of high quality information, advice and/or guidance by ensuring organisations review, evaluate and develop their service; encourage the take up of professionally recognised qualifications and the continuous professional development of their staff.

See http://matrixstandard.com/ for more information.

We were delighted with the feedback, although we’re never complacent. The report won’t be available for a few weeks but it is very encouraging. We enjoyed hearing the independent validation of the WEA’s strengths after a rigorous assessment of 5 English regions. We’re also pleased that the suggested areas for improvement aligned very closely with those that we had identified in our own Self-Assessment Report, Improvement and Development Plan and during our Strategy Day.

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About Ann Walker
Adult education and lifelong learning specialist and campaigner. LinkedIn: http://linkd.in/1GI0QK1

5 Responses to Reflective practice and feedback in leadership and management

  1. joaniepthemadhatter says:
  2. Peter Threadkell says:

    The interview I had last week was very through and professional .Any organisation needs outsiders now and then to visit ,.listen and ask questions ie be a critical friend

  3. @Infostocksy says:

    Like item 2 – Avoid the echo chamber, any truly learning organisation will look outside to grow and develop,

  4. Lynne Smith says:

    As usual a thorough and fair synopsis of the day.We must ensure that we always look outside whilst remaining faithful to our core vision and values.Great to work alongside the SMT to form ideas for the future.Looking forward to Council on the 2nd March and the next stage of discussion and imput.

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