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Ben Owens Blogs about Teacher-Powered Critical Friends

Ben Owens

Mar 8, 2017

Owens blogs about the importance of schools as learning organizations for adult professional development, detailing the implementation of "Critical Friends" meetings to foster open sharing and consensus-based decision-making.

The article emphasizes the importance of schools functioning as learning organizations to promote continuous improvement, echoing the criteria of a supportive learning environment, concrete learning processes, and leadership reinforcement outlined in Peter Senge's "The Fifth Discipline." The implementation of structured "Critical Friends" meetings, involving peer-to-peer observations, constructive criticism for project reviews, and facilitated discussions, led to significant positive changes in classroom practices, fostering trust and professional growth among teachers. This transformation facilitated a culture of empowerment, equal participation, and consensus-based decision-making, ultimately aligning the school with a sustainable learning culture that addresses shifting educational challenges.

Moreover, the article details a significant shift from unstructured planning meetings to weekly "Critical Friends" sessions, evidencing a commitment to open sharing, continuous improvement, and proactive problem-solving. The consensus-based approach and equal voice for all members not only fostered a sense of trust and empowerment among teachers but also resulted in the development of specific actions to incorporate recommendations into the school's practices and policies. The overall impact on the school indicates a successful transition into a learning organization, promoting professional growth, enhanced collaboration, and a sustained focus on continuous learning and improvement.

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