“Listen and Learn” Meetings

During the summer I try to organise my diary for the coming year.  I’ve been putting in two half day visits to schools each week where I’ll spend some time with the headteacher in a pastoral/support capacity, before visiting teachers to explore how Curriculum for Excellence is being taken forwards in the school.

Last session I ran a series of Leaders of Learning meetings  in each of the clusters.  These meetings with teachers really helped to provide me with a grounded perspective of the issues facing teachers and schools. In my new role I would like to extend such opportunities to meet colleagues from throughout our service and that’s why I’m considering holding a weekly “Listen and Learn” meeting.

The “Listen and Learn” meeting would involve me inviting six members of staff from a variety of education and children’s services establishments to meet with me from 4.15 – 5.15 for cup of coffeee and a blether – this would be repeated with different people on a weekly basis. Over the course of the session I could possibly meet 180 staff in this way.  I’d also intend to hold similar “Listen and Learn” meetings for staff at John Muir House but they could take place during the day.

Individuals would be invited at random from staff lists and would receive a personal letter of invitation.  At first I thought I would invite a group of people representing a variety of levels and specialisms to each meeting but there might be more to be gained from having some kind of focus at each meeting – e.g. inviting six P1 teachers into the office to talk about the challenge of transition from nursery classes; or six maths teachers to talk about how they cope with large class sizes in S3; or six social workers to talk about how they manage their workload?

The purpose of the meeting would be very much in line with “what it says on tin” i.e. listen and learn – with me doing the listening and learning – although I would be more than happy to try to respond to people’s questions and concerns.  My hope would be that such regular meetings with staff could influence policy and ensure that our practice stays in touch with the needs of those who deliver the service.

I’d welcome feedback about this idea but in the meantime the dates and times are in my diary!

6 thoughts on ““Listen and Learn” Meetings

  1. Sounds like a great idea. I used a similar idea in a previous post. I found it worthwhile to pencil in the same people for a catch up a second time. This would reduce the amount of people you would be able to meet but serves as a way to round up or catch up on what was discussed the first time round.

  2. This does sound like such a simple but good idea. A couple of comments. From what I read in your blog Don I expect your profile is clear in East Lothian. However, I would also suggest that to get the maximum input from “random” invitees they need to trust you. Rapport between you and participants will be very important.
    Secondly I agree with Alison – the one off conversation will be a great starting point but I would echo the words of a young man I met at Musselburgh Grammar – at the end of the session when I had asked him and his classmates to talk about what they would like to change in Musselburgh he told me that he had done that before in another project “and nothing happened”. I feel sure that something did indeed happen. Maybe it was more that nobody came back to tell him personally missing the chance to have him as an advocate for the good things that were happening!

  3. Don,
    It is excellent that you manage to set aside time to be in schools. It is extremely important that “managers” keep in touch with those who deliver the service directly to pupils,,,, and with the pupils.
    This should minimise the danger of putting lots of effort, time and money into activities which make very little difference to any pupil.
    I am sure the staff and pupils in the schools appreciate these visits very much ,,, and I know that the classroom is where you like to be!!

  4. Don, I like the idea of keeping in touch with those still in the classroom. This is so important but it must be handled sensitively and any outcomes feedback in order to feed forward.

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