“We must find a better balance between what is good for the child, the group and the teacher”

Schools that want to avoid an unsatisfactory assessment from the inspectorate can appeal to the support program Goed Worden Goed Blijven plus. How do schools experience this and what are the benefits? An interview with internal supervisor Irene Neelis and school principal Thijmen Krikke from OBS ‘t Swannestee in Langweer.

“We came out well from the inspectorate’s thematic investigation of appropriate training, the audits were fine, and yet the yield remained below the signal value,” Neelis begins. “So we decided to sign up for Good Worden Good Stay plus to get to the table where the shoe pinches. A person with a new perspective from the outside, who watches with us for a longer period of time.”

“It didn’t feel like a threat to the colleagues either,” adds Krikke. The quality assurance, the care structure and the didactic action were in order, but we still did not achieve the desired results. The colleagues also wondered why this was the case and were equally curious about the results.”

“Together with Annie Minnema (advisor Goed Worden Goed Blijven) we visited the groups five times, in combination with training for the team,” adds Neelis. “But the reflection conversations were particularly valuable. Not based on what is not going well, but more focused on what is going well and why you do things the way you do them.”

“For some it was quite exciting at first. It is uncomfortable when Annie, Thijmen and I sit at the back of your class. But as the school year progressed, it became more common. The realization came that it was not about passing judgement, but about being curious and, above all, continuing to develop together.”

Find the balance

“The most important insight? We are a small village school and therefore tend to offer all children a suitable place. Often this works, but sometimes you wonder if it was all really possible. Some children put enormous pressure on the teacher’s time and energy, sometimes at the expense of other students’ effective learning time.”

Krikke: “The focus was more on children with low achievements instead of those who perform above average. If one of our six students underperforms, we will not reach our signal value of 1F. You also need the more gifted children for your income.”

“We had to find a better balance between what is good for the child, what is good for the group and what is good for the teacher. Annie dared to ask us those questions and to clarify, where is that balance?” adds Neelis.

Added value of the advisor

“The value is also a bit of awareness and enrichment of my own knowledge. As an IB student, you never actually go to class with an expert. I look more at student care, interaction and the coaching perspective and Thijmen from a quality assurance perspective. When you spend a year with an expert, you learn to see in a different way. How do you handle this to create the desired development?”

“For example, by using a different instructional model. With the same goal for all students without setting lower requirements. They progress from direct instruction to deepening, enrichment or additional work. And the last twenty percent can work on the goal together at the instructional table. In this way, students get on their own learning path and they also need separate teaching for that. We learned to look critically at how we organized our education, and this is where eye-openers emerged.”

“We’ve had guidance for a year, but we’re not there yet,” replies Krikke. “You also get new colleagues in the team who are not yet familiar with the EDI model (Explicit Management Instruction) and are now getting started with it. How does the model work, what makes it so effective and how do we translate it into our own practice? You also have to spend two to three years on this with the team, and we are in the middle of that now. Annie has now confidently handed it over to Irene. She is preparing this very well, the team meetings for the coming year are already planned and another school within Ambion is also joining this.”

Open and fair process

“When the inspector heard that we had applied during a control visit in 2019, he indicated that it would be a tough process. We did not experience it that way. It was an open and fair process. Expectations are expressed back and forth, the plan is made together and then put away in good time. We have received useful advice, under good guidance and confidence to continue it ourselves.”

“The only thing that was disappointing is that sometimes it was difficult to plan,” adds Neelis. “Annie was here on Thursday, and part of the teaching team was off. We’re now recording it via Teams so everyone can watch it back. We also see that it happens a lot, the teachers get inspiration and get started.”

“What do I recommend to schools that are in doubt? Go into it positively because it’s nice to have someone watching. If you are unable to achieve the desired results, you will need to arrange your own feedback. When someone from outside comes to look for a day or two, it is often difficult to put the finger on the sore spot. Annie went through our entire organization and found out why the latter was not true. In fact, I wish that for everyone, it’s so nice to hold up the mirror.”

Leave a Comment