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Visible Learning & School Culture

Visible Learning & School Culture


Overall learning goal

This two day seminar has two main areas of focus. The first goal is for members to gain a deeper understanding of  what resistance to change in schools looks like. Participants explore school culture in more depth before moving towards finding solutions and considering how they are monitoring the implementation of existing teams.

The second goal is for members to become familiar with the topic of Visible Learning and create a plan for furthering their learning.


As a subgroup of the Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) Project, a group of education professionals have come together to form the Lead Data Team (LDT) in an effort to support English sector school boards and school teams to build capacity towards evidence-based, effective teaching and learning practices. With a different focus for each event, participants build a large repertoire of knowledge on how to support teams to develop high quality instruction that results in positive outcomes for all students. Building on previous learning, this seminar has two main areas of focus, each one ensuring participants gain insight at an individual, Professional Learning Community (PLC) and respective professional context level:

  1. School culture and resistance to change;

  2. Visible learning

Throughout the two day seminar, participants engage in activities, reflections and presentations and work together to activate their previous knowledge on related topics in preparation to look more closely at what resistance to change in schools looks like. Participants explore school culture in more depth before moving towards finding solutions.  The group members also participate in seeking solutions for a problem of practice. The two days conclude with reflections on the progress of school data teams in each member’s respective school board and considering how they are monitoring the implementation of existing teams.

Instructional design


Following a review of the previous seminar, the facilitator introduced the two main themes chosen by participants and the herself for this first seminar and the year ahead.  They include:

1: School culture – to revisit Transforming School Culture by Anthony Muhammad and others, such as Rick Dufour’s work on PLC

2: Visible Learning


Participants are invited to record in their journals what they worked on last year & their personal goal for this seminar.

Day 1: Activity 1 - change & culture knowledge activation

Day 1: School culture and resistance to change.

Activity 1 - change & culture knowledge activation: Participants are asked to reflect on (and record on posters for sharing)  what they already know about change and culture as well as considering the following questions:

  • What is the role of leadership in the change process?

  • How do you implement change in your school?

  • Why are people so resistant to change?

  • What prevents change?

Activity 2 - Shared Literature Review

Activity 2 - Shared Literature Review: Participants are given time to extract key elements from the literature on school culture and resistance to change that can be used in practice (from theory to practice) by working in four reading teams. Each team is assigned one of the following books, and each member of the group reads a chapter from their team’s assigned book that identified important ideas about school culture and resistance to change before organizing and noting down key features.

  • Transforming School Culture: How to Overcome Staff Division – Anthony Muhammed
  • Shaping School Culture One Week at a Time – Jeffrey Zoul
  • Creating School Cultures That Embrace Learning: What successful Leaders Do – Tony Thacker, John S. Bell & Franklin P. Schargel
  • Creating Productive Cultures in Schools – Joseph Murphy & Daniela Torre

Each team is asked to extract at least three major ideas emerging from these readings, and record them on a poster chart for the feedback session with the whole group.

An overview is provided to the group, followed by questions and a discussion, of an Anthony Muhammad workshop on Transforming School Culture.

Activity 3 - action mapping

Day 1: Overcoming resistance to change. Cathy Moore’s professional development approach to action mapping, discussed at the last seminar, is reviewed.

Activity 3 - action mapping: Participants are asked to identify solutions for resistance to change in each of the categories (conditions, processes and people) as found in the literature reviewed. A continuation of the activity encourages individuals to consider solutions that could be used in their respective work environments.

Day 2: Activity 3 - action mapping continued

Day 2: The day starts with an overview of the day’s activities, which includes revisiting the previous day’s outcomes and the solutions offered by the literature.

Activity 3 - action mapping continued: The groups are asked to identify solutions from the literature to give participants something concrete to work with in their boards. Identified solutions are shared.

Activity 5 - visible learning mindframes

Day 2: A presentation on Visible Learning is given to participants by two team members before resuming the group activities. The presentation includes handouts and two short videos. The first video explores John Hattie’s eight mind frames and the second features two elementary school students discussing the language of learning. Participants are then asked to complete a Likert scale on the role of leadership.

Activity 5 - visible learning mindframes: Following the presentation, participants form four groups & each group is given two of Hattie’s eight mind frames to discuss and share with the whole group in order to gain a deeper understanding of the value of visible learning.

Post lunch warm-up - the end in mind slideshow

Day 2: Post lunch warm-up - the end in mind slideshow: a slideshow is created of pictures that each participant chooses to represent what they think their year’s end will look like. Participants try to match each of the pictures to one of the team members. Once the person is identified, they explain what the picture represents for them

Reflections: Following a brief recap on Visible Learning, the facilitator asks the group to jot down in their reflection journals which chapters from Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn they would like to read and share at the January seminar.

Activity 6 - problem of practice

Day 2: Problem of practice - implementation of data teams. The theory and format of presenting a ‘problem of practice’ and using the consultancy protocol is reviewed with participants before the activity.

Activity 6 - problem of practice (POP) using the consultancy protocol: In this four-part exercise a presenting member brings forward a problem of practice for discussion. The group asks clarifying questions before discussing the POP while the presenting member listens. The presenting member then reacts to the suggestions put forward in the discussion. The discussion can include issue clarification, emergent ideas and solutions.

In order to link the activity to participants’ own contexts, the problem of introducing the data team model to resistant teachers is shared and potential solutions are brought forward for consideration.

Activity 7 - monitoring the implementation of data teams in schools

Activity 7 - monitoring the implementation of data teams in schools: In school board teams, participants are asked to identifying what school data teams are working on and how often they are meeting (using the Data Team Monitoring Tool grid) and return preliminary information to the facilitator to compile.


Participants are asked to note down their goals for the year ahead and make a plan.