Good or outstanding schools are, in my experience, usually reflective institutions, across all staff, having an impact on students.
For the whole period of my sixteen years of headship, I kept a running log book of my thinking about the school. Most thinking is of a developmental kind, not fully formed, unless you have the equivalent of a PC brain, and there are some of those. Lesser mortals need to work through things in ways that help them to make sense. Some prefer their tablets or laptops, but, for me, I have yet to find a system more effective, Luddite that I am, than a blank sheet of paper, closely supported by post-its.
The thinking log was not my idea. It was shared during a Deputy Head training opportunity, led by the late Neville West, who was, at the time, Reader in Education at Sussex Uni.
The premise is a simple one. Leave page one of a hard back not book blank and turn to the first double page. Only write notes from talks, or your first thinking, on one side, leaving the opposite page free for your reflections, or, in my case, the questions that arise, either to share within the discussion, or afterwards with colleagues. The mirror page can also permit a précis of thinking to be developed, for ease of future recovery (links with revision?)
Plans for school improvements were developed in the same way and were often presented to staff as works in progress, to allow their thinking to have a strong influence at the development stage.
I strongly feel that it is important not to be seen as a head who only presents final thoughts, as it supports my belief in collegiality. If everyone is party to developing ideas and processes, they then have a stake in ensuring it is enacted effectively. A top down model requires several stages of assimilation before it can be delivered. This is a weakness of national policy, which is rarely the subject of consensus and often has a polarising effect.
So a dia(log) can support this way of thinking. It can also support teacher planning, as the two page approach allows the clear plan on one side and note taking on the other. It allows different forms of note making, such as “mind mapping” variants, drawing, diagrams, as well as verbatim written text.
The dia(log) became the basis for the two page approach to writing, detailed in another post (framing writing)
The dia(log) approach lends itself to a wide variety of applications. I now use a variation during school visits, where a blank sheet is used to capture on-going discussions. At the end of the discussion, the sheet is folded back, allowing a short summary, which will be the basis for the report.
Revising for exams is often a fraught period. Developing a note-making mentality can support future needs and reduce the need to overlearn every aspect.
Worth a thought in the dia(log)?