Every voice matters: developing learning through collaborative observation within the collegial and dialogic culture of a learning organisation in the primary school

Birks, Gloria Dawn

February 2013

Thesis or dissertation

© 2013 Gloria Dawn Birks. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

This thesis argues that the voices of both pupils and teachers must be heard to maximise classroom learning, and that including pupils in lesson observations is a useful mechanism to support listening to all voices and promote learning when it is part of a learning organisation culture. The research reported here contributes to a wider understanding of listening to pupil voice through its exploration of the experiences of both pupils and teachers in a primary school where pupils are involved in collaborative lesson observations alongside teachers. The research also questions how involving pupils in such lesson observations contributes to classroom learning. Data were collected in one case study primary school through individual interviews with teachers, focus group interviews with pupils, a lesson observation and documentary analysis. Drawing on evidence generated from the research and theoretical assumptions from the literature review, the research concludes that a developmental, coaching style lesson observation in which a pupil is involved is a mechanism that has the potential to develop learning as a shared responsibility. This is because it places pupil and teacher voice in the same arena, one that has traditionally been the province of teacher voice, and also because the classroom is an arena that is focused on learning: pupils’ academic learning and teachers’ pedagogical learning. The collegial learning organisation culture, with its emphasis on supportive, non-judgemental practice, enables all voices to be heard through dialogue and this leads to mutual understanding. Collaborative observation within this culture develops pedagogy and pupils’ engagement with learning at both individual and organisational level, enabling participants to experience both risk and stability at the same time so that learning becomes a shared responsibility.

Centre for Educational Studies, The University of Hull
Plowright, David
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