Critical Friendships: Asking The Right Questions


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Critical Friendships Asking Questions

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In 2010, Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit from a simple Twitter account through which he rapidly became the 'most followed teacher on social media in the UK'. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday...
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Do you have someone who can help you to develop critical friendships and critical thinking?

Last week I wrote about how I was developing into my doctoral studies at Cambridge University. In a weekly seminar on ‘critical friendships‘ by Dr. Sue Swaffield elaborated on definitions and practical techniques that developed ‘trust’ and strengthened relationships.

We discussed the following questions which I believe are helpful for all school leaders and teachers. I managed to consider a ‘person’ for each of the questions below. In your area of work, do you have someone you can think of – who also gives you the time you need for reflection and discussion.

Ask the right questions

  1. Who asks you questions that make you rethink things, or see things differently, in a new light?
  2. Who stimulates your thinking, gives you new ideas, and perhaps shares practice from elsewhere?
  3. Who is your sounding board? I.e. Someone you bounce ideas off, test your thinking with?
  4. Who is a bit removed from your situation and yet understands it?
  5. Who provides you with a slightly detached viewpoint and a valuable fresh pair of eyes?

Try to consider an answer to each of these questions the next time you reflect on your work, or when you are having a conversation with someone you are mentoring or coaching.


One thought on “Critical Friendships: Asking The Right Questions

  1. Your governors!

    And other people too, for sure, but headteachers should expect their governors to do all of this, and should upbraid them if they don’t. If governors have “no questions” when you present your headteacher report, Boris Johnson has prepared an appropriate response for you:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LI5oRTL-6rA

    (If YouTube is blocked at your location … it’s the clip about London Assembly members being branded “great supine protoplasmic invertebrate jellies” for failing to ask questions on his budget.)

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