As the year starts and we all settle in to those firsts for the term,
first h/w set,
first name slip up (!),
first ever time teaching a subject/topic,
we as teachers and educators try to be innovative and creative with our ideas to improve the learning of our pupils, if an idea doesn’t work we look to adapt it, evaluate it and eventually change it. It’s what we encourage our pupils to do, adapt to their surroundings and learning environments, (they encounter just a whole host of variations throughout a school day, let alone a school year!), yet at this important and frantic time of the academic year, #BackToSchool , how often do we revert to type? How many ‘Expectations’ lessons can pupils sit through before they gently tune us out?! Potential here to ask them what they expect, point 9 of Dylan William’s TES article about ‘9 Things Every Teacher Should Know’, postulates this very aspect; the invariably excellent insight our pupils actually have about their own learning and expectations that we tend to overlook.
4 Questions I am asking all staff to start the term
- What would you like learning to look like in your subject/Key Stage this season?
Thinking about how you would like the learning to look, its actual visual representation that pupils will experience can enable us to make some decisions about which direction we want to go in. If you accept that learning is not a linear process, that it is non-predictable, mysterious and somewhat hidden, then having some idea of what you potentially want it to look like may give us a much needed head start and insight into learning, (Didau 2015).
- Over time, how will the pupils learning be brilliant and amazing?
Banned from the educational lexicon: Outstanding, Good, Requires, Improvement, and any other potentially inflammatory phrases. It’s about next steps to take pupils into a deeper part of their learning allowing them to be brilliant and amazing, how we allow for that, feedback, relevant and detailed.
- What consistencies will facilitate these fantastic levels of learning?
A consistent approach to learning can never be underestimated. If learning is approached with a scattergun, unpredictable fashion it will usually result in groundhog learning, they will forget! Learning is invisible, this as teachers is the hardest thing to take, we can’t always see the impact straight away (potential exceptions to this could be approaches like rote learning). While it remains elusively and annoying invisible, we can plan for this by designing a curriculum that anticipates any hiccpps along the way.
- How will T&L in your subject area/key stage make a difference for the pupils no matter what their starting point/background/demographic/Mood !!
For this question I call upon the beauty of my own subject, geography. It is everywhere, it impacts us all, and it is fantastically applicable and accessible to all pupils, got to love the BBC News website!
I plan to have these visual at all times for the first term, alongside the 3 challenges I have set for each teacher and TA who lead learning. Roll on the new year, new challenges, new approaches, exciting times.
- ‘Meet and Greet- End and Send’
Challenge yourselves to meet the pupils at the start of their lesson, greeting them with a task or challenge, a visible and clear introduction that their opportunity to learn starts as early as the corridor. End the lesson by sending them on their way in a positive manner
Demonstrate to pupils that we are all lifelong learners and that the learning process will never end, nor would we want it to. Have the ‘Learning Focus’ sheet somewhere visible, refer to it
- Go and be part of someone else’s lesson/group
Experience learning from another angle; share our tools for learning outside of the MOTs and INSETs