Whilst accepting that to let it descend into that sort of conversation is very

Whilst accepting that to let it descend into that

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Whilst accepting that to ‘let it descend into that sort of conversation … is very natural and very easy to get into’, the challenge is to move it to the next stage that requires somebody with their head on to say “try this, this is an interesting thing, could this be developed?” and that encourages people to come forward with ideas’. The data presented below from some of the sub-networks in network one illustrate the power of experiential learning . Sharing ideas /picking brains Some of the work involved bringing staff from different schools together to share ideas and what was described as ‘ pick each others’ brains’. This seemed to be different in kind from a straightforward dissemination mode. Here the process was more dialogic and seemed to be driven by a more active reciprocity on which those attending engaged, not just out of curiosity, but out of a need to solve particular issues or to take forward developments in a particular area of work. Coaching and joint work Other work embraced a more explicit capacity building approach in which a member of staff from the network team worked with and alongside staff from schools in the network. One particularly arresting example concerned joint work with a ‘failing’ school to develop a PSHE programme and train staff who were to take the programme forward. Here the strong view of the person most involved in driving this work was that schools have got to build capacity to take on the work that they are learning about, otherwise it won’t work. They’ll just continue doing everything as they always have done.’ What was particularly interesting about the approach adopted was that the network member of staff utilised a very rich, experiential form of engagement, not only at the ‘failing’ school but also at her own school. Colleagues from the ‘failing’ school visited her school to get a feel for how she worked in her own context. There was a recognition that whilst changing practice might entail giving people ideas and encouraging people to ‘pick each others’ brains’ there was also a strong insistence that this would never be enough: ‘Giving people information to read about what we do is helpful. You can transfer facts that way and they’ve got something to refer to, but it’s more than that. Anyone seeking to change the daily realities of classrooms had to understand that ‘It’s not just about communication, it’s about giving people the opportunity to experience something.’ Needs-led learning Within some of the mini networks in Network two there was a strong view that new learning arose from the need to sort out a problem. Effective networking was in other words needs-led.
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