Planning Learning

Last week we met again with our #visibleNQTs.  The focus of the session was planning learning and linked with a session with Nicola McDowell (School Group Manager) on planning.  Nicola and I have a confession to make, we cannot understand why we did not plan the two sessions together, it’s so obvious to us now and we will certainly do this next year!

We started the session with a quick reminder of the five strands that NQTs were introduced to on the induction day in August.  The primary goal of the visible learning sessions are to support NQTs to understand the key characteristics of Visible Learners and develop practice which actively promotes this.

During the session we

  • Shared and reflected on school based learning
  • Linked learning to the previous session on planning
  • Shared practice from teachers in our schools
  • Reviewed key principles from the Visible Learning research

The primary and secondary presentations can be viewed below



Primary NQTs had the opportunity to hear from Kerry Dolan (Hawthornden) and Kirsty Stadnick (Gorebridge) about how they plan learning.  Kerry made explicit links to how her approach to planning makes learning visible and explicit for her learners and actively develops visible learners.  There were clear similarities between the approaches of Kerry and Kirsty and it was interesting to see how the key principles can be applied in slightly different ways.

You can download Kerry’s presentation below:

Kerry Dolan – Hawthornden

We asked NQTs to identify the key messages that were emerging, here is what they said:

Key themes - Primary NQTs

Secondary NQTs had an interesting session from Jordan-Leigh Cunningham (Newbattle) and Lisa McGlade (Beeslack).  Jordan-Leigh shared a framework for planning that was developed by Crammlington School and how she uses Solo Taxonomy to plan for deep learning.  It was interesting to hear how an example of how a pupil was able to transfer this framework to other subjects.   Lisa shared some reflections on learning intentions and success criteria based on recent work in Beeslack to review how well we are using LIs and SC to develop visible learners.  You can download the presentations below:

Lisa McGlade – Beeslack

Jordan-Leigh Cunningham

Secondary NQTs were asked to post-it note the key themes and areas they feel strongest in and the areas they feel most challenging, here is what they said:

Key themes - Secondary NQTs   IMG_0118

School based Learning

We have asked NQTs to work with their supporter use the wheel to establish;

  • —Where you are now? How do you know?
  • —It’s ok to have a ‘don’t know’ – what do you need to do to find out?
  • —Choose one element to focus on.
  • What will you do to develop your practice in this area?
  • —How will you know if it’s having an impact? How will you measure/ record this?
  • —Revisit checklist prior to the session in January (I will send a reminder)

I will send a surveymonkey link for NQTs to enter their ratings now and in January – this will give us useful information for planning sessions.  NQTs should be prepared to share this at the next session and to reflect with their support on which standards this relates to.  The learning carried out here could be built on for the research project.


New Cohort of NQTs – Introduction to Visible Learning

As many schools have started their Visible Learning journey by exploring the question ‘what makes a good learner’ with learners, parents and teachers we engaged NQTs in this as well.  We created a post-it wall of ideas; confident, takes risks, not afraid to make mistakes, enthusiastic, able to reflect on feedback, resilient, determination, asks questions.


We want to develop assessment capable learners and we need to keep reminding ourselves of this focus.  We linked this to the culture and ethos of the learning environment and how student – teacher relationships play a central role in this.  We used my all time favourite TED talk to exemplify this.  I have seen Rita Pierson’s ‘Every Child Needs a Champion’ many many times but every time I laugh and I am inspired. If you haven’t watched, please take 8 minutes to watch this.

Kerry explained a little bit about how she worked with her class last year to build a shared language of learning, a growth mindset culture in which mistakes are valued and enjoyed as part of the learning process.  Central to developing this was not just the practical tools of language, mindset etc but establishing a culture within the class and between each other that is based on trust and understanding.  This led to a shared exploration of the Learning Pit by James Nottingham and if you don’t know about the Learning Pit, P6 can tell you all about it. They made the video below to share with their families and other pupils because it had helped them so much in their learning and their understanding of their learning.

You can view Kerry’s key messages by clicking on the link below.

Visible Learning Key Messages

School based learning

Each session we will set some tasks or questions that we will ask NQTs to do in their class or school with the expectation that they will share this with their colleagues at the next session.  We will also ask them to share or discuss this with their supporters.  The school based learning we have asked NQTs to engage in is detailed below:

  1. We would like each NQT to engage in some evidence gathering with their class or one of their classes to establish a baseline – we want them to find out how assessment capable their learners are.  We have provided some questions that might help them to structure this but we know they will have lots of ideas about how they might do this and discussions with their supporters will help.  We would like supporters and NQTs to discuss this the evidence they gather and what this means – what action needs to be taken?
  2. NQTs should reflect on the standards for registration with their supporter and consider which one the task above relates to and how it contributes to achieving that standard.
  3. NQTs should read chapter 4 of the Visible Learning For Teachers book before planning sessions with Nicola McDowell (30.9.15 & 2.10.15)
  4. NQTs should read chapter 5 of the Visible Learning For Teachers book before the next Visible Learning session (11.11.15. & 13.11.15)

Thanks to all who contributed to the session today, especially the NQTs.  Good luck for next week!

Effective Feedback

We have reached our final session with NQTs, we found ourselves back in the room we started in and together as one group. This session focussed on effective feedback.

We started by feeding back on the tasks we set NQTs at the last session.  We asked NQTs to do the following;

  • Share and discuss your mind-map with your supporter.
  • Revisit ‘what makes a good learner?’ with your class.
  • Discuss your findings with your supporter and consider what you can do to have a greater impact for your pupils.
  • Bring your finding and reflections to the next session

NQTs shared their learning with each other, prompted with these three questions;

  • What impact has there been?
  • How do you know?
  • What next?

A clear was the focus on the langauge of learning and being able to see the impact of this.

We moved on to explore effective feedback and started by using some quotations and videos to prompt professional dialogue and reflection.  You can view the videos by clicking on the link below:

The rest of the session took the form of professional dialogue and allowed us to build on and expand the knowledge and discussion the NQTs had and make the links between previous sessions and effective feedback.  A copy of the powerpoint can be downloaded here – session 5.

We left NQTs with one final task, we provided a copy of the relational trust wheel and suggested that they might find it useful to reflect on this with their supporter.  The wording can be adapted to reflect on their class as well as at school level.


Evaluation of the Visible Learning sessions

The second half of the session was facilitated by Kay Livingston and Kevin Louden from the University of Glasgow.  NQTS, Supporters and Head Teachers were asked to complete a survey monkey to explore the effectiveness of these sessions.  The surveymonkey but based on the impact framework developed by Gutkin and Curtis as outlined in the mindmap below.  Kay and Kevin had the opportunity to speak to two focus groups of NQTs and explore key themes in more detail.  We are currently in the process of reviewing the evaluation data and will share this with you in due course.

Visible NQTs Evaluation

It’s been a pleaseure to work with the NQTs this session and I look forward to seeing their research projects later in the term.



Visible NQTs – session 5 – Language of Learning

Developing the language of learning

Fresh from a week off we met with NQTs this week, we focussed on the language of learning and developing the dispositions for learning. We did something slightly different this time and it seemed to work well. NQTs had been given one of two articles to read in preparation for the session – one by Guy Claxton and one by Costa & Kallik. We started the session by having them create a mindmap based on their prior knowledge, their reading and experiences. This task seemed to engage and focus the group well and there was a lot of high quality dialogue – this is definitely worth using in the future.


Processed with MoldivProcessed with Moldiv

As with other sessions we include practitioners who are able to share their practice as NQTs value this and it helps us make the connection between theory and practice more visible. Primary NQTs heard from Pauline Mckay from Cuiken Primary School and their whole school approach to developing a language of learning. One of the things that struck me about their approach was how strong the role of learner voice is. We also had Andrea Berry from Roslin Primary join us and share their journey of developing metacognition across the school and reflecting on how knowing more about visible learning is helping them embed this approach for greater impact. Their PowerPoints are available below.

Roslin Primary School

Cuiken Primary School

Greg Coburn from Dalkeith High Shool shared his experience of developing the language of learning within his subject area of PE and emphasised the importance of teaching for the transfer of their skills through meta-cognition. Greg’s PowerPoint is available below.

Dalkeith High School

Secondary NQTs also did a short exercise in which they brainstormed the skills they teach in their subject areas, we then mixed up the groups and circled all the skills that they teach in other areas. It goes without saying that there was a significant amount of overlap, which highlights the importance of developing a shared language of learning and using this across all areas of learning.

group work

Due to a slight mix up the date of the final session needs to be re-arranged and we will get details out as soon as possible. In the meantime we have asked NQTs to do the following:

  • Share and discuss your mind-map with your supporter.
  • Revisit ‘what makes a good learner?’ with your class.
  • Discuss your findings with your supporter and consider what you can do to have a greater impact for your pupils.
  • Bring your findings and reflections to the next session.

Visible NQTs – Session 4 – Know Thy Impact

Using assessment as feedback about your teaching

It was great to start the new term with our #visiblenqts and at the start of a new year we thought it was a good time to remind ourselves what we have covered so far and remind ourselves of our goal – to develop assessment capable learners. We took some time to reflect on how the visible learning sessions relate to the standards for registration. NQTs had the opportunity to discuss how they relate their own learning and impact on practice to the standards.  Going forward we will continue to encourage NQTs to reflect on this and build up their own profile, this may be something NQTS and supporters wish to discuss.

As the focus of the previous session was on planning learning and in particular thinking about learning intentions and success criteria we asked NQTs to have a peer or their supporter to ask pupils the following questions:

  • What are you learning?
  • How will you know when you’ve learned it?
  • What feedback have you had from your teacher about your learning?

We asked NQTs to share their learning and reflect on three questions:

  • What did you learn?
  • What impact did it have on you?
  • What impact did it have on pupils?

Their learning is summarised below.

IMG_0026 IMG_0024

The focus of this session was on assessment and how we use this to plan learning and reflect on our own teaching. This reflects two of Hattie’s mind frames in particular:

  • Mindframe 1 – Teachers/ leaders believe that their fundamental task is to evaluate the effect of their teaching on student’s learning
  • Mindframe 4 – Teachers/ leaders see assessment as feedback about their impact

We were lucky enough to have two colleagues from Lasswade High School share their practice and demonstrate how they gather assessment evidence, how they use this and how they involve pupils. Unfortunately, our primary practitioner was unable to join us but we will make sure this a core part of the sessions.

You can view the powerpoint for further information – Visible NQTS session 4

School based learning

At the end of the session NQTs were asked to complete a learning wheel (NQTs Wheel 2), we’ve asked them to discuss this with their supporters. Together they may identify an area to work on and develop practice and look at the evidence they have to support this. We look forward to sharing their learning in February.

Visible NQTs – Session 3

It doesn’t seem that long since I blogged about session 2.  Session 3 last week saw us revisiting some of the key discussions from the induction day.

NQTs started by reflecting on the impact of their personal action plan from the last session and it was great to hear their ideas and what impact these were having on pupils.

We revisited 2 important questions:

  • what does good learning look like, sound like and feel like for teachers and pupils?
  • what makes a good learning environment?

These are significant elements of effective learning and need to be reviewed and reflected on to make sure we are getting it right. Here are some of our ideas.

IMG_2451Processed with Moldiv

In preparation for this session NQTs read chapter 4 of Hattie’s ‘Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learners’.  This chapter focuses on the key elements of planning learning: prior achievement, targeted learning, progression, teacher collaboration and critique in planning. We had some time during the session to explore these but we were probably too ambitious about what we could get through in 2 hours.  NQTs heard from practitioners about how they plan learning and take these factors into account when doing so.  The format of having practitioners share their experience worked well and NQTs welcomed this and we aim to incorporate this into each session. Here is our powerpoint for the session.

Visible Learning NQTs Session 3 Nov 2014

For next time…following feedback from some supporters we have asked NQTs to put the visible learning sessions on the agenda for discussion with supporters.  This will allow NQTs to share their learning and reflect on how they are applying it in their classrooms.  As the focus of session 3 was on planning learning and in particular thinking about learning intentions and success criteria and making sure that learners know what they are learning we have asked NQTs to have a peer or their supporter to ask pupils the following questions:

  • what are you learning?
  • how will you know when you’ve learned it?
  • what feedback have you had from your teacher about your learning?

NQTs will then discuss this with their peer or supporter to reflect on what it tells them.  We want NQTs to be prepared to share their learning at session 4 (in January) and what impact it had on them and their pupils.

We will update the blog in preparation for session 4 so don’t forget to check back.

Visible NQTs – refocusing


I saw this at a CPD session with Carol Dweck recently and it came to mind when I was reflecting on the first CAT session with NQTs. Before the first CAT session I had a feeling that the route map I had planned for these sessions wasn’t quite right but I didn’t actually have any evidence to confirm this and therefore no evidence that would help me improve it…yet. So, the first CAT session went ahead with just a few minor adjustments and my feelings were confirmed and I was able to get the information I needed to help me ‘re-route’ and to be much clearer about where I was trying to get to.

One of things we talk about within visible learning is the importance of errors and mistakes as learning opportunities and so I thought it might be worth sharing my learning through the blog so that you (NQTs and supporters) will know that we do seek feedback and take it on board, we want to know what impact we are having on you.

In his book ‘Visible Learning for Teachers – Maximising Impact on Learning’ Hattie (2012) says that the act of teaching requires the following:
· Being aware of learning intentions
· Know when a student is successful in achieving these
· Sufficient understanding of prior knowledge & experience
· Knowing enough about the content to provide meaningful and challenging experiences
This has been a helpful tool for me to reflect on in order to ensure that the sessions we have together have the greatest impact they can:
· My learning intentions were not clear enough or specific enough…but they will be now and my interactions with NQTs and supporters has helped me to clarify these
· During the first CAT session I was beginning to see some elements of what I was looking to develop but because the first bit wasn’t clear, this wasn’t clear enough
· I didn’t fully understand where you were coming from as NQTs and the experiences and challenges you have during this first year
· Do I know enough? I don’t know but I hope I know enough to provide meaningful experiences in collaboration with my colleagues

So, what are we trying to achieve?
· We want to help you to be able to develop visible(assessment capable) learners.
How will we do this?
· The remaining sessions are going to focus on learning intentions & success criteria (and we will link this to planning), feedback (and assessment) and metacognition. These emerged from the first CAT sessions as areas you all identified as areas for development. This has also been confirmed through conversations with a few supporters. The action learning sets you participated in confirmed this. We now have a better understanding of your needs as NQTs and how we can meet these through this new approach to the induction programme by linking this to the key messages about developing visible learners.
· We will work with primary and secondary practitioners so that you see examples of ‘what a good one looks like’ (WAGOLL).
· We will continue to apply the key principles of effective CLPL as described on the induction day, in particular ensuring that you are deeply engaged, have the opportunity to talk to each other about learning and have opportunities to put your learning into practice.
How will we know how we are doing?
· We have a small group of NQTs to who have been willing to provide feedback between sessions and we will continue to seek this.
· Your learning tells us how we are doing; after each session we reflect on what we need to do differently next times.
· We will continue to seek feedback from you during and after the sessions…help us out by giving us some feedback!

Visible NQTs Session 2

It was great to catch up with our NQTs and hear how they are getting on in their schools.  All schools in Midlothian are engaging with Hattie’s research and it was encouraging to hear that NQTs are participating and supporting this in their schools.  What a great opportunity for schools and NQTs to learn together.

There was lots of discussion and sharing practice during the sessions.  Most Primary NQTs had gathered information from their learners about what makes a good learner, what makes a good classroom and what makes a good teacher.  This gives them a valuable benchmark for reflecting on how ‘assessment capable’ or visible their learners are.  Secondary NQTs used the assessment capable learner checklist to structure their reflection and discussion.

Due to technical issues the Primary NQTs didn’t get a chance to see some video from Stonefields School in New Zealand.  Secondary NQTs were able to use the video to help them to reflect on the characteristics of visible learners with those they see their pupils demonstrate.  Click on the links below to watch the YouTube videos: – ‘Everyone is a teacher and a learner’ (teachers talking about how they support learning and language for learning) – ‘Stonefields School building learning capacity’ (pupils talking about their learning and being in ‘the pit’)

During the session we focussed on using the information gathered as a starting point and used the characteristics of visible learners to identify one thing they could focus on with their learners to help them become more assessment capable.  As part of the plan NQTs considered what knowledge and skills they and their learners need and what practices they need to develop so they become more routine.  For next session they need to implement this, monitor the impact and come back ready to share with their peers.

Common themes that emerged across both sessions were learning intentions, success criteria and feedback.  Secondary NQTs also talked about how to teach metacognition.  We will use this to help us structure the coming sessions.

As always we welcome your feedback.

Induction day

Finally, I found time to write this blog (must do better next time)!

It was a great pleasure to meet and spend the day with our 50 NQTs in Midlothian on 13th August.  There was a great buzz in the room and some really interesting discussion and debate.  I’ve also been lucky enough to meet many of them through school or ASG development sessions on the in-service days.

The purpose of this blog is to share information with supporters and those working alongside NQTs about the programme of learning we are engaging in this year.  We will be working with a small group of NQTs who will act as a focus group providing feedback and shaping the nature and content of our learning over the session.  The focus of the programme is ‘evidence into practice’ and therefore NQTs are asked to go away and try things out and come back and share their experiences and importantly the impact on learners.   The programme complements a range of career long professional learning activity taking place within Midlothian this session (for more information have a look at LearnPro).

At the welcome meeting in July our NQTs were all given a copy of John Hattie’s ‘Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximising Impact on Learning’ and were asked to read at least one chapter.  We didn’t specify which chapter and suggested that they read the one that appealed to them most.  It was nice to see so many books coming back and looking read and well used, some even had notes sticking out of them. We started the session with some reflection and sharing learnin.  A popular chapter of choice seemed to be the one on feedback with many questions for discussion emerging.

We creates a workbook for the sessions they will contain the key information and plenty space for recording activities/ discussion.  We will add to this as the programme develops.  We hope that by the end of the year NQTs will understand the key messages of visible learning and the 5 strands (visible learners, know thy impact, feedback, inspired and passionate teachers and visible school), be able to share these key messages with others and make links with their own practice. As this blog is aimed mainly at NQT supporters or those in schools working alongside NQTs you might want to take the opportunity to ask them more about what they learned and what they have done as a result of this.

So what did we do?

We talked about Hattie’s continuum of influences and discussed some of them in a bit more detail.  NQTs took some time to reflect on this and any future actions they may have in relation to what they learned.  You might want to explore what they are now doing with this.  We focussed on two particular influences; student – teacher relationships and student expectations.  Rita Pierson’s TED talk, ‘every kid needs a champion’ is worth viewing and I think our NQTs enjoyed it too.

The afternoon focussed on the strand of visible learners or ‘assessment capable learners’ and I encouraged all NQTs to take time during their first week to ask their pupils ‘what makes a good learner?’  Asking this question will give them a lot of information about their pupils’ perception of learning.  This will help our NQTs (and indeed any teacher that asks this question) identify where they want their pupils to be at the end of the term or the year and then plan how to help them get there.  We need to know the goal in order to plan the journey and then make it visible for ourselves and our learners.

As I said at the beginning of this post, the focus for NQTs is on ‘evidence into practice’…this means they have some work to do!  During the session they completed an assessment capable learners action plan (pg. 14) and they are to bring the findings from this with them to the next session.  We will use this information to generate an action plan of focussed enquiry and evaluate the impact this has. We know schools are data rich but the question is how well do we use this data to inform what we do, so, their second task is to have some discussion with their supporter about the data the school has about pupil attainment.  NQTs have an outline pro-forma for recording this discussion and key questions.  In summary we are interested in what data you have, what you do with it, what gaps you think you have and what you might want to do differently.

You can view the prezi used on the day by clicking here.

You might also be interested in some of the visible learning spotlights available for download on the Educational Psychology Service website.

If you want to hear more from John Hattie himself you can listen to the interview he did last week via this iPlayer link

Why not also follow the Midlothian Educational Psychology Service and Education Team on twitter – @mideps and @mideduteam to keep up to date with all sorts of developments including #visiblenqts and #visiblelearning. 

Don’t forget to post questions and comments and we can share our thinking and learning with each other.