Hargreaves and Fullan now move on to the final part of their professional capital equation, DC – decisional capital as in PC = F (HC, SC, DC). They define this as “the capital professionals require and accumulate through structured and unstructured experiences, practice, and reflection.” This, like all other skills, is something which improves with practice – “you get better at making discretional judgements when you get lots of practice examining your own and other people’s judgements, with your colleagues, case-by-case.” This they see as something which is sharpened when there are interactions with colleagues about these decisions. Instructional Rounds is mentioned as a mechanism that school leaders set up in order to systematically develop these skills – the reflective practice that is built on the premise of continuous improvement.
Reflective practice, which they define as both “reflecting in action and reflecting on action” is seen by Hargreaves and Fullan as central to the development of decision capital and hence professional capital. The former is really the ability to respond, to see that currently things are not going to plan and to adjust decisions and practices in the light of responses to previous decisions – a form of feedback loop, a small-scale version of the Strategic Development Cycle described in a previous post. The latter is that informed, structured thinking about practice which forms the basis of TIFF -referred to in my last post. You can find out more about TIFF by clicking here. In discussing their profile with her/his TIFF provider, a teacher is encouraged to discuss and analyse the pattern of behaviours which the Index identifies the individual as displaying from her/his answers. The provider then explores any questions or curiosities that she/he notices from the detailed analysis of the scores for the wide range of positive and negative behaviours analysed in this valid and reliable model. This generally sparks very serious discussion, reflection and improved understanding on the part of the teacher of the balance of positive and negative behaviours exhibited and ways in which these could be adjusted in order to bring about a more positive balance, with resulting improved outcomes (in the form of responses from colleagues and pupils) and a greater ability to thrive, professionally and holistically.
Hargreaves and Fullan say that in order to maximise development of their professional capital, teachers need “to put in the years required to perfect their practice” and also need the “coaching, mentoring and time that helps them reflects on that practice”. TIFF provides a model which can ensure that teachers have the opportunity to think radically about their practice at the deepest, behavioural level. It also gives them time to reflect on themselves and many teachers who have had this opportunity really value this rare chance to spend some serious time thinking about themselves – something all too rare in our pressured lives, but vital if we are to be able to cope with and thrive on this pressure.