Reflection # 4

Student Led Interviews

Reflection # 4


I am fortunate to work in a dynamic and creative school. A school that is passionate about delivering a balanced education for the students in its care. Challenging students academically, within the arts, physically and, to become environmental citizens of the future. A school that expects teachers and students to be reflective, critical and resilient.

So, when my Head suggested we pilot Student  Led Conferences I was willing to see how it could be implemented across KS2.

Research, Research, Research

Reading and understanding current pedagogy and published school examples of Student Led interviews was my first point of reference. I read extensively, viewed clips and discussed with colleagues the pedagogy of students leading their learning.

I used this information to engage in robust dialogue about the best way forward. Incorporating my colleagues professional ideas and years of experience to the researched information, developing  a model we felt was suitable for our students and the school.

Leading a Team

Prior to the first meeting, I shared with the team links to the research on current pedagogy about Student Led Interviews. Acutely aware that time is a precious resource for dedicated teachers; I did not want to waste it during the meeting reading material. In addition, I wanted the team to be on the same page, with the ability to think critically.

The agenda was set and shared with the team before the meeting; another strategy I felt would maximize discussion time.

During the first meeting, the team reviewed the research and engaged in professional discussions. Important information was documented in the minutes as well as next steps to be completed prior to subsequent meetings.

This cycle was repeated over several weeks until final decisions were implemented about Student Led Interviews.

The team was responsive and motivated with a common shared goal of preparing for the Student Led interviews.

Getting Close, The Interviews

Throughout the weeks of preparation for the Student Led interviews, I allocated time to review the process and make some adjustments, most of them to do with the organisational aspect for the event. The team were on target preparing the students by selecting activities and tasks, rehearsing the script. There was trust.

However, it wasn’t until close to the date of the Student Led interviews, that I realized there was something I had fundamentally missed. Despite the school’s expectation being one that its students are reflective and critical, these year groups did not have a culture of reflection of learning in their classroom. The lack of continuous reflective practice inhibited the students from deeply sharing their learning journey with their parents. The students scratched the surface, shared their ‘activities’ spoke about how much they liked the ‘task’.

A culture of this calibre must be established from day one, week 1, term 1 and continue to evolve and develop throughout the year.

A big red flag. How could it be addressed?

What Next 

I took the time to review and analyse, listen to feedback from parents, students, staff, senior management, and my own overly critical self. I took a lot of time (it is now August and we held the interviews in February!) I wrote my thoughts down, read more articles and research, then pondered what could possibly be the best way forward.


I felt that preparation for Student Led Interviews (with depth) had to start in Week 0 of the new academic year if we want it to be a truly reflective Student Led interview.

Strategic Plan

  • Set clear guidelines for consistency across KS2, work collaboratively with 5/6 Phase Leader to establish them.
  • Possible guidelines: highlight own experiences and call on staff to share when they have created situations where both teacher and student are working together as evaluators of their impact, staff to regularly review school’s marking and feedback policy – use weekly year group meeting to highlight sections that focus on critical reflection from students and feedback from teacher, students post one high quality Seesaw reflection a week (provide students with scaffold of sentence starters if required), provide staff with a list of key questions to  ask students to help them reflect on their learning, follow the LAUNCH cycle using success criteria.
  • Phase leaders use additional release time to visit classrooms and talk to students about their learning.
  • Share with staff articles and clips about students reflecting on their learning.Image result for teacher and school leaders expertise Hattie 2017
  • Work collaboratively with Seesaw and LAUNCH Leaders to reinforce a culture of student reflection.
  • Cycle information about student reflection during weekly year group meetings.

Leadership Lessons # 4

  • Ensure the goal is clearly stated and fully understood.
  • Reading and discussion may not be enough, monitoring during the preparation stages, using the final goal as the success criteria is also vital.
  • Adjust and make amendments along the way.
  • Offer exemplars.
  • Hold ‘trial’ sessions after the exemplars.
  • Regularly communicate with Phase Leaders of the team members.
  • Return to the core/center/heartbeat of what you are aiming to achieve.
  • Reflect.


Reflection # 3

Take Time Out

For the past 7 days, I have been fortunate to spend time on the South Coast of Australia.

Four out of the seven days were with my own family and my extended family. The time we spent together was incalculable.

Endless days together that required minimal planning or decision making. Albeit, planning meals and if we should take the long or short road to the beach.


Leadership Lesson

Rejuvenate the mind, body and soul at the end of a term.

Create space for new ideas and projects.


Today’s post is a set of questions. For those who read my blog you are welcome to answer in the comment box.

  • Who is your favourite children’s author?
  • What is your favourite children’s book?
  • If you could only keep one book, what would it be?




My parents are enrolled in a fitness program called, ‘Stepping Out’. Each week they learn new and practical exercises to build on their already healthy lifestyle. My father was sharing some of the exercises with my son this afternoon.


“Place one foot in front of the other, close your eyes and see if you can balance.”

I looked up from the kitchen bench, my father and my son focussing intently. My sons arms, outstretched like an aircraft, navigating his body to balance. Alongside his grandfather, the solid rock, ready at anytime to give support.

My daughters and I eagerly joined in.


Tonight, as I was deciding what to post. The word balance came to mind.

Life requires balance.

To balance you need a stable foundation.

Grandparents are an integral part of that stable foundation.





Time Zones

I live on the opposite side of the world to most of the ‘Slicers’ in the #SOL 18 writing challenge. Essentially, I can post the following day & it is only 9pm for most on the East Coast.

However, Monday night came & went. Leaving me with a few hours to post the next day; well that was my intention.

Tuesday morning arrived. Morning routines wove their web.

Avant je sais ça, the 07.25 bell rang, signalling the beginning of Tuesday’s school day.

The class entered, chatting comfortably with their peers. Going about their own morning routines.

As I turned to grab something from my desk, a student casually asked, “Mrs Saap, what did you blog about last night?”.

“I didn’t get a chance to last night,” I replied, feeling a mix of emotions. On one hand, thrilled that my class were on this journey with me, at the same time disappointed that I didn’t have a post to share with them.

I didn’t like the feeling of disappointment. I wanted to be an inspiration to my class. They were counting on me.

Sometimes, the littlest voices have the most powerful message.

Lessons from Little Voices

  • Don’t leave tasks to the next day.
  • Address them in your own Timezone.

Tuesday #SOL18 – 20 complete.




My post today is inspired by IBLESSINGS post, Anticipation: Day 18 #SOL18.

The image of the cot, and words ‘anticipation’ jolt my memory.

Eighteen years ago, ‘anticipation’ filled my being. My husband and I were expecting our first born.

I have unpacked the dream from Friday night, I know it’s about letting go. I don’t want to, but I know I have to. Anticipation awaits our son’s adult life.

#SOL18 -18

SOL18 8.jpeg

Saturday Serenity

Finally, Saturday had arrived. The day I wake without an alarm, the day I savour the morning coffee, the day that is mine to run.

Upstairs, the house is silent, it will remain that way for a while longer.  I walk downstairs into the kitchen, where, the hum of the fan gently circulates air and invites me to brew the first coffee of the day.

While my hands routinely prepare the coffee, I mull over the previous night’s dream, slightly annoyed with its persistent lingering. Does it have a deeper message? My thoughts are interrupted by the buzzing of the coffee machine; the dream can be unpacked later.

Taking my first sip of coffee, I savour its piquant flavour. Thankfully, it’s a good batch.

Returning the cup to the bench, I open my Twitter feed, what have I missed this week, what speaks to me? @gcouros has a message that resonates, note to self, implement this immediately.Serenity 2

Next up, is Jennifer Gonzalez @cultofpedagogy Overwhelmed? Do 5 things, an entertaining way of how to start with 5 simple things to do to regroup. Jennifer shows us her kitchen bench. I glance over at mine – it looks frighteningly similar to the image of her bench. Perhaps a task to tackle before Sunday night.

The coffee continues to work its magic.

I can already feel the week’s activities dissolving and Saturday serenity creeping in.

Perhaps the dream analysis can wait until my afternoon walk in the rainforest.

saturday serenity