Judy Halbert: Importance of scanning

Judy Halbert is one of the people who developed the spiral of inquiry, learning and action. In this video she emphasises the importance of scanning and of identifying what you'll use later to check whether you've made enough of a difference.


I just want to emphasise the importance of scanning and checking – that we really, really want you to, or invite you to, think about starting with a deep understanding of what’s going on for your learners.

We’ve all got opinions on it. You say, “Oh, the kids are anxious,” or “The kids are spending too much time on technology,” or “They", you know, "They don’t care.” Whatever it is, we’ve got these opinions and what we really need to do is test those out.

And, that’s why we’ve found the learning principals from the OECD so helpful. Because we can be saying:

  • What’s the experience of kids? Do they get the kind of feedback on a daily basis that helps them own their own learning?
  • Do they feel connected to this school? Can they answer the question, “Can you name two adults who believe you’ll be a success in life?”
  • Do they have the opportunities to see the links across subject areas and to the community so that they can understand the relevance of what they’re learning, or do they see it as a set of discreet tasks?
  • Do they, do they, have the opportunity to coach a younger child and to learn from an older child, or conversely to coach an older child and learn from a younger child?

So, those are big questions connected to what we know about learning and how learners learn that we want to be curious about before we just say, “Gee, you know, we’re worried about math. Let’s get on with it.” We need to just spend a bit more time – and, as Linda said, don’t spend forever because we want to move in to the action phase as well.

Before we get going, though, we need to think about the checking part, and that’s the question “How will we know that we’re making enough of a difference?” So, if we’ve decided our focus is on self-regulation then we need to know what are going to be looking for in six weeks, two months, a term, that is telling us we’re making enough of a difference for our learners.

So, we need to be thinking about the whole phase or the whole spiral at the beginning and all the way through. So, it’s not adequate to leave it to the end and say, “Oh well, how are we doing?” and then scramble and kind of put together some assessment data to answer the question. We need to be thinking about that, about that, earlier on.

So, just to emphasise, this is about starting with a deep understanding of what’s going on for our learners and then coming back to that to say are we making enough of a difference for them?

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