Developing a hunch: Tools and approaches

Ideas you can choose from and adapt for your situation.

General suggestions

  • Make space for diverse points of view to open up thinking.
  • Reframe issues to focus on things which educators can influence.
  • Invite students and the community to give their views.

Developing and testing hunches about your leadership

We all hold beliefs about our actions and leadership but they may not align with the reality.

Developing and testing hunches about your leadership is as important as testing hunches about what is happening in the teaching and learning space.

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Developing and testing hunches about teacher knowledge and skills

When teachers consider the scanning and focusing data, they usually come to realise that they need to learn something new in order make a difference.

When their students say things like “My teacher doesn’t explain things clearly”, teachers often realise they don’t have sufficient depth of understanding or the relevant skills to do so.

If a risk-taking culture is part of your setting, teachers will readily identify what it is they do not know and the kind of support that will help them to learn it.

In the early stages of developing hunches, teachers may start by looking outside of their practice and talk about the students or their families, for example.

The leadership challenge is to focus them on those conditions over which they have control. Most often this means teaching and learning interactions in the students’ learning environments.  

Developing hunches with learners

Instead of you and your teachers interpreting the results of an assessment, take the analysis to the learners who completed it. Ask them why some results are high and some are low. Ask how you can help them to move from low to high.

A year 8 class had completed asTTle reading and maths assessments. The overall pattern showed their reading levels were higher than their maths levels. The teachers took the class profile to the learners. They asked them why they thought this was the case and how their teachers could help them more in maths.

The learners had many suggestions which were consistent with effective learning environments. Their suggestions included:

  • If they already knew something, then please do not give them lots more exercises to complete.
  • If they don’t know something, then please explain it another way, don’t just explain it the same way again.

Developing a theory for improvement

A theory for improvement is the shared story, believed by all those involved, of how the changes will achieve the agreed goals for learners.

Toward the end of this phase of developing a hunch it is useful to develop a shared map of the agreed strategies so everyone is on the same page. Who has to do what by when and how will you check it is happening? Remember it is important to include the learners.

Theory for improvement (Word 2007 59 kB)

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