Re-Lensing Learning 6

When a school has taken a checkpoint and reset or redefined their learning culture, a whole lot of opportunities present themselves - all of which potentially lead to accelerated learning growth.

When framed up in the safe space of a shared culture around learning, powerful learning dialogue begins to happen that is facilitated by the fact that everything is lensed around learning. Dialogue hierarchies are broken down - enabling everyone to learn from each other. Critical elements of successful dialogue involve listening deeply for understanding when collaborating around a future language for learning.

Listening for understanding

Listening for understanding enables learning cultures by allowing participants to frame up dialogue around the learning. A greater dialogue is achieved when the listeners connect and listen to learn and gain an understanding or to clarify.

When listening for clarification, participants are engaged in dialogue that involves a connection with what is being said and the true meaning of the ideas being shared.

This kind of dialogue encourages others to contribute their ideas. Successful dialogue - lensed around learning- facilitates a  non-judgemental environment in which participants share more openly their ideas without fear of judgement.

Listening for understanding enables learning cultures by allowing participants to frame up dialogue around the learning.

The leadership team at Alfriston School have engaged in a new change dynamic. Not a usual implementation mindset but a process of learning and co-construction of ideas with staff. Change management done in this way results in learning occurring laterally not hierarchically.


An appreciative inquiry process was used to gain the clarity needed to design their aspirational learning vision. This process involved interviewing staff about learning ideas. Staff were enabled to create the vision by connecting with a time when either their learning or the learning of their students was rich and impacting.

Staff were asked to identify what was happening when this learning was occurring. They spoke about what was happening, what support structures were in place to allow the learning to happen, and what lead to that moment. Out of the process, essential elements and phrases are identified. Critical components to be taken through to the future learning culture of the school.

The process of an appreciative inquiry involves four parts - discover, imagine, design and destiny. The discovery phase of the process included the interviews described in Re-Lensing Learning Part 5. With the information gained from the interviews, we moved into the imagine phase.

With the information gathered from staff during the appreciative inquiry interviews, common words and themes were identified. With syndicate teams, we moved into a process of Connect | Contribute | Create.

We connected with the ideas of the whole staff. Through the contribution of everyone's ideas and thoughts, we entered into rich dialogue about learning. A dialogue that was framed up around learning and was intentioned to gain understanding. Teachers actively engaged in dialogue that included listening for understanding.

Together, teachers began to create and connect how their ideas could aspirationally inform the vision for learning and inform the language of learning. Teachers were encouraged to think about how all of their ideas could inform the schools' future vision and create their common language for learning. Teachers began to feel energised as they started to contribute their ideas, knowing that their thoughts and ideas would become part of the future vision for the school. As the teachers began to create their vision, the dialogue engaged and enabled teachers to be innovative.

Teachers began to feel energised as there started to contribute their ideas, knowing that their thoughts and ideas would become part of the future vision for the school.

The words and themes were placed onto hexagon cards. The syndicate teams were engaged in a workshop in which they began to seek connections between these ideas and concepts to build a vision of learning. Teams were asked to remove any cards that they felt were not significant and were asked to connect up with was left.

From this point, teachers were then - as a team - asked to ideate and imagine what their hexagon diagrams would look like in their classrooms. The teams ideated and then spoke about their ideas. The ideation of their ideas enabled teachers to deepen the vision and give another layer of depth to their ideas. In speaking about their ideations, even greater detail of their ideas was achieved.

So in summary - The sum of all the parts is greater than the whole. Contribution from across a school can build a deeper and more powerful vision and culture. It takes time but is incredibly important if you are looking to create change-ready tribes in your organisation
Until next week - when we will continue with the journey to re-lensing learning - Empower sustainable Learning Cultures.

Tabitha Leonard