Kāhui Ako leader, Nancy Macfarlane and Hinemoa Anaru, Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru Education Trust, explain how they have used evaluative thinking and developed theories of improvement to provide direction for their community of learning. Nancy says, “it actually makes you delve in deeper into the measures of success and what that would look like, and how you utilise that to set your next activities or outcomes in your achievements."
Nancy Macfarlane: We had the opportunity to work with Helen and Lisa Dyson, who works alongside of Helen, and we looked at what our needs were in terms of our achievement challenges and Helen put forward the idea of looking at evaluative thinking. Evaluative thinking is a theory that Helen has developed with Lorna. Within that evaluative thinking there is a model around developing a theory of improvement. So that’s the model that we utilised. The theory of improvement is you could relate it to a spiral inquiry or circle of inquiry. What it does is it just makes you reflect on where you are, and where you’re going, and what you’re doing next.
The difference with the Evaluative Thinking Model is that it actually makes you delve in deeper into the measures of success and what that would look like, and how you utilise that to set your next activities or outcomes in your achievements. The beauty of developing the theory of improvement and utilising the evaluative thinking is that that’s been able to be the impetus around everything that we do in our Kāhui Ako. So we had achievement challenges but what did that look like? What did it mean? How were we going to approach it? How do we manage all of these things that are happening within school structures and CoL structures and how do we bring that all together, so it, the theory of improvement along with the Implementation plans and the Evaluative thinking around those has been the way in which we have become, and have the ability to move forward.
We are very much focused now that we have these theories of improvement of utilising those to meet our achievement challenges. I don’t think our CoL, our Kāhui would be where we are at the moment if we didn’t have those in place. When you’ve got a very clear approach, and plan, and strategic development from that we feel like we really do know where you’re going. I feel that it’s given me very much a direction of where we’re heading to and what we want to achieve within a certain timeframe.
Hinemoa Anaru: To develop an understanding of how to apply evaluative thinking, we used a theory for improvement plan. And we began with a template and the idea was to start at the end and then back map. So we used the achievement challenge for the central CoL, and then encourage teams to back map from there, so they then decided which would be their mid term outcome, or their short term outcome and then figure out how they’re going to implement activities that will help them to reach the outcomes that they’d organised. So in their teams they’ve been trialling this kind of thing, trying to put things together so that everything is linked.
That’s one of the key things around evaluative thinking, or even developing a theory for improvement plan. Things have got to link up, this set of activities is going to cause this to happen, that cause is going to create an outcome and the outcome will help you to determine what activities you need to do now that will cause the next outcomes. So the other key focus for this CoL is the concentration on evaluative thinking with Helen. It’s around encouraging teachers to look at what they’re doing, look at what they’re planning, look at the activities they’ve got organised, and asking themselves how effective they are and whether or not these activities and these measures are going to get them closer to their achievement goal.