Scoring a Hit? EOY Assessments and a T5 case study

So, 2 key things happened this week. In marking all my books I realised that I was going to miss these kids, these classes, these relationships at the end of my training. And why teachers put up with all the hard work and often heartache – because these kids are growing, and you get to be part of that.

Mid Term Re-Plan 

Secondly, I decided with a heavy heart to scrap my more motivational mid term plan for my tired Y9’s. The EYO Assessments have been moved to an earlier slot, starting this side of half term while I’m still teaching them. I lost 100m with them due to the bank holiday, and scoring a hit seems, sadly, more significant that inspiring them to write poetry. So it’s go go go with practicing unseen poetry and reinforcing the persuasive formula…

I’m actually having to do this for all my KS3 classes. It’s less problematic with my 2 x Y7 classes, since we’re doing ‘Accent, Dialogue and Autobiography’ at the moment, so there isn’t a thematic context that needs to be condensed.

T5: Adapting Teaching to repsond to the Strengths and Needs of ALL pupils: A Y8 Case Study.

With my lower ability Y8’s the challenge is to prepare for the Assessments alongside motivating engagement, and finishing the novel by Half Term without losing the class comprehension of events in the process! I’ve found this really challenging but beneficial, as I’ve had to constantly interrogate the purpose and benefit of each task, for both curriculum skills and cohesive contextual content. I’ve also maximised my plenaries to facilitate the consolidation of learning during this faster pace of lessons. As a result my last 3 lessons have felt very sharp and focussed, with much more aggressive differentiation designed to progress each individual pupil toward what I have ascertained their potential achievement level. Plus, the set moves have meant that I’ve inherited 3 new pupils into the class, plus a new starter, whose profiles I have had to quickly and rigorously assess. With the set-movers, it was a case of downloading their data from ASPEN and using this to create a TARGET card as the rest of the class have, allowing pupils to stay focussed and aware of their targets, and allowing me to move them in Kagan allocated gorupings for relevant tasks. In spite of being placed centrally in the whole class profile, the 2 set movers from the lower set are really struggling with the format of the lessons, which the LSA informs me are much pacier and more complex in terms of activities and processing expectations, so I’m incorporating them into my strategies for Lower Ability learners in the class (see below).

Isn’t it crazy? Even in an ability ‘set’ class with identical results, kids are SO different.

The 4th new pupil is a school mover, whose EOY target fits the class profile (5c), but he’s come in on a 3a! I can only hypothesise that he’s been set for hisEOY rather than his actual progress, and  it’s quite an ambitious target considering that he’s joined us with a term to go. Still with a reading age of 11, I figured that our boy-friendly novel could be a a good stimulus for development. Following a class reading strategy, it became apparent that the reading age was not a match for the class and asked the LSA to do our own tests, which ascertained a reading and writing ages of 8 and 9. As a result I’ve moved him onto my ‘intervention’ table (which is obviously, not obvious. I hope! Merits, tough questions and lots of vocab challenges and praise go this way, as well as writing homework into their diaries and frequent mini-table AFL checks), and my LSA is incorporating him into her focused activities with our other literacy weak pupil. By the time the EOY’s come along, he will have been part of the same preparation process, so I’ll take his transition into consideration alongside the results and if necessary have a chat with the LSA and class teacher about additional support.

A tangible example of how I’m adapting teaching with this class then – teaching Writing to Describe in the last lesson…

Presentation1I would normally expect to spend a fair amount of time ensuring 1/3 the class had managed to draw a KPT, during which the attention of the middle 1/3 would wane, whilst the top 1/3 would be finished and ready to move on. This time, I pre-printed a KPT template. I distributed this to the lower 1/3 to eliminate unproductive time struggling to structure their responses. I  targeted the middle 1/3 for on the spot feedback for examples to ensure they engaged out of anticipation for a response, and I included a second line of harder challenges on each slide for the top 1/3 to ensure they were being stretched. It worked! The class variabley and appropriately progressed AT THE SAME PACE! HOORAY!

To make sure I reaaaallllllly got them focussed, I also designed this homework sheet to ensure that the kids were actually incorporating the success criteria into their writing, by simultaneously self-assessing. I’ll post once I get it back and can make a call on if it worked…

Whilst we’re on hoorays, it was a wonderful birthday bank holiday,  and since I’m feeling all smushy, I can’t let this post pass without wishing my beautiful little girl a special second year X

weekend wonder

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Whole class engagement

What to do with a Y9 lower band class lacking in motivation to learn? Well, I tried one strategy with a level of success, and planned a second with the class teacher.

ONE
Strategy = Home and Expert groups, with a Dweck inspired pre-task chat about the importance of whole group buy-in. Each member fo the class had a 2-sided poetry placemat (below) which they had 2 cycles of info gathering and sharing poetry techniques to complete. I worked hard with the pre-identified, work-shy boys to ensure the rest of the group we’re disadvantaged. The majority of the class performed well, particularly in the 2nd cycle. Having split friendships/communes/allies/parters up, I wonder on reflection if friendships groups would have been a better way to approach this, since friends are more likely to support each others learning efforts. Or just talk. Tough call. The boys who didn’t buy in at least, with supervision, became experts and shared info, but failed to capture techniques shared by other classmates. So as not to penalise the keen beans, I made the info and placemat available online and set a homework to add further details to the mats.

Poetry PlacematPoetry Placemat 2

TWO
Strategy = Hearts then Minds. Fresh and green perhaps, but this is off the back of the CRB training, and taking stock generally, and trying to win this group back round to English rather than feed them to the machine. They most engaged during the last few lessons of Boy In The Striped Pyjamas – having accessed a theme they found to be personally interesting and relevant. With this info on board, I’m working to build on our EI/PLC project about inequality and social awareness, and the SOW about unseen poetry, which I’m focussing on poems from other cultures with congruous themes. Result? Bring a folk singer into a lesson to sing protest lyrics, inspire the class to write their own, using their placemats for technical direction, and then grade their commentary for reading levels.  So, after that we’ll do a persuasive writing project about supporting poverty abroad, and I’ve hopefully hit all the assessment bases, put some energy back in the class and tied it up with an appropriately thematic ribbon. Mixed metaphors much?! The class have made great vocab progress, with increasing sophistication in word choice however, the er, cherry on top of this mid term plan will be grammatical. I’m thinking a huge push on extended starters with grit for grammar – particularly punctuation, sentence construction (adverbial starters) and conjunctions to aid argument expression and develop.

Parents Evening (T8 and PPC)

A happy blog to start the first teaching day of term off….

During my mentor meeting, we went through some of the targets from before the break, one of which was to prepare for a Y7 parents evening which took place just before term ended.

Talking about it again reminded me how buzzy I was during and after – I really enjoyed meeting parents, being able to talk about their children in depth, and understanding more about the journey that each of them comes into school from. At the start of the year I shared the class with my mentor and another teacher who helped me get into it, but were so encouraging in pushing me to take the lead on dialogue with parents, commenting that I was able to make insightful and personalised comments about the individual children – which in turn indicated a high level of responsibility that I have taken to understand their progress and targets. It was so rewarding to know that our lessons had made an impact on the pupils, and I was really encouraged to hear that the pupils have been using and sharing our class specific blog with their parents.

In particular, I enjoyed speaking with the parents of 1 child, who is very bright and engaged in class, a natural leader and enquirer, and who makes intelligent contributions with enthusiasm. I felt that I had lots of evidence to share about his progress, and so was surprised to hear that he’d previously professed English to be his least favourite subject, and one that he lacked motivation toward. His parents were really positive about his change in attitude and increased enjoyment of the subject in Y7. Goofy high-five moment? Yes. Definitely.

On the flip side, but also rewarding, was the opportunity to communicate with a different set of parents with the help of a HOD. They wrote to me expressing concern over their daughter’s misunderstanding about the PLC2 project. I’m really glad they took the time, and felt confident about explaining and unpacking the situation professionally to the parents. My mentor and the HOD were satisfied that they were well informed and I had a chance to chat to the pupil too. She later commented on the blog asking for additional help, which I was happy to do. Actually a few pupils from different classes did this during the break – more evidence to suggest that using it as a central access point for homework and questioning is time well spent.

Headliners

It’s been a while and a lot has happened… this is more of an aide memoire for me and my evidence file really, but here goes…

* 2 x observations with a mid ability Y10 class that have frankly been loosing me sleep due to their controlled assessment, the subsequent mass of extra reading and prep it’s taken, and challenges of motivating a class to write for 3 hours. Oh, and marking. But the feedback was super helpful, and really highlighted the need to maximise tasks and resources, and sequencing. Has the last task developed skills that are required in the next one?

*T4 PLC2 project on Emotional Intelligence. In theory, this was meant to be streamlined into a sequence of 4 lessons alongside normal content. In practice, it took over my 9.7 lessons and required a lot of tweaking to line up with an already content heavy English curriculum.

In a CPD session we discussed potential micro-enquiries within our subject areas, but inevitably any expanded creativity, off-road research risks or extended meta-cognative learning processes are at the mercy of the TIMETABLE. Business has brainwashed TIME is MONEY into me – so can we afford to take up time doing pupil led enquiries? How can you be confident it’ll be beneficial? You’ve got to have some serious perceptivity to go off-piste. And so, 97 and I are now playing catch up with functional writing skills and unseen poetry. Go go go!

*T5 Exit strategies. This is really working with YO. Half the class seeks constant reassurance and needs to develop independence and confidence, whilst the other half tends toward the know-it-all approach. Taught explicitly as an exit strategy, the 5B’s are making a big difference (Brian, Book, Board, Buddy, Boss) I’ve taken this further, after understanding during my TTT3 research, that one of the benefits of formulating and articulating is increased awareness. So pairs are given a yellow (optimistic I though) sheet of A4 paper at the start of every lesson. ANY, any ANY any and ALL questions (including toilet/tissue/trash related ones) have to go through the 5B’s, and be written out clearly on the paper before the Boss will answer them. Often they are solved prior to this, frequently they are solved in the process of writing the question, and should the question need the Boss, it has been considered and shaped toward intelligent questioning. Moreover, a hand up to signify a written question enables me to answer individuals at an opportune moment, rather than the previous barrage of questions disrupting learning flow. Merits for the most interesting questions inspire the know-it-alls, as does answering other people’s questions AND you’ve got a pupil led homework waiting to go for all those unanswered ones. Questions tend to be spelling, homework, word meaning, character scenario orientated – and have been pretty impressive – such as ‘Could Ariel be Prospero’s spirit somehow?’

Image

*T5 Spotlighting – I was pretty pleased that this technique which I practiced with a Y10 class was picked up on in a CS session at Uni. It’s essentially about listening to group learning dialogue and discussion, and then allowing the rest of the class to do the same by focussing attention on this model group. Its a great way of demonstrating good practice to other pupils and showing them what good learning looks like. I then used the groups discussion to bounce deeper questions around the other groups, refocussing us all on the key messages, before sending groups back again.

*CPD day – tonnes of interesting stuff – highlights…
T6 Marking for Progress – some great ideas to trial here from a CPD day, such as
Leaving the left hand side of the page blank for assessments and levelled work, so that comments can be fully responded to, paragraphs improved etc – with a post it tab on the relevant page that cannot be removed until the teacher signs off on satisfactory progress.
Actually the tabs system would work on any marking. I will try, photograph and post on this….

T2/T5 Stretch and Challenge Strategies for successful, individual, meaningful challenge, with encouragement to run a collaborative micro enquiry, with deep analysis on 2 or 3 pupils. I think I’m going to be doing this with 8.8, as a lower ability class but with a range of pupils who need widely tailored approaches. My project is to trial ‘Accelerating students thinking through talking.’ IAnother post on this, er, post event. Other things…. great acronyms to help teachers plan challenge: SKIVE and PIECE, and some very inspiring case studies. One ins particular reponded to research that pupils perceptions about lack of relevance is a huge demotivater for challenge, so spent time with his Y7’s researching famous mathmeticians who used algebra to change the world etc, working out their skill-sets and characteristics, and transferring these to class success criteria. Constructivism. I wanted to do this for a year 7 class following a conversation with a boy (previous post), and I’m going to do this with them now, but around embracing the bard instead. This week, not planned yet, but I’ll, post, naturally. Hopefully.

T3 Literacy across the Curriculum and Reading strategies – wow, so many great ones here to try, love the idea of Sketch and Stretch to transfer comprehension into a more memorable context. Big win with lower ability ans especially with my 100m lessons. Also going to use the SMART and INSERT strategies to ensure more meaningful comprehension, and the 5W’s as a good way to enforce factual absorption whilst re-enforcing a basic functional writing skill. PIcs to follow.

Ok, guess what? Lessons to plan! More regular posts to follow!

P.S All my uni assignments are completely and absolutely IN. This feels good. And I feel good after an actual break – it was so nice to leave and come back to the same place, which meant the easter break was a lot more relaxing. Lovely.

Learning Journey

David Didau raves about them, and I enjoyed a very aspirational version delivered by my HOD in School 1 some time ago in conjunction with a SOLO lesson. (Yes. Solo. Like.) Although I only have 2 lessons left with most of my classes before this placement finishes, I’ve decided to try a Learning Journey rather than Lesson Objectives with a lower ability Y10 class that I’m still expecting a lot from.

Here’s the journey (I should make you guess for a starter no? No? OK… using our homework plans to apply to a task, developing our own class success criteria based on prior learning, then writing this up into a wonderful piece of work and finishing with a post it plenary to assess progress and determine direction.)

learning journey

I’ll add a comment on how it goes down…

KLA Objectives

At a recent R&D CPD group, we were encouraged to differentiate not just for ability but also for learning style. This week I determined to meet the challenge to devise a task that incorporated each learning style.

IMG_9216IMG_9214

I wanted it to be meaningful, so came up with a CONNECTED KEY WORDS, based on a twitter/Learning Spy ideas on introducing objectives in fresh ways. The idea is that pupils are given a key objective word, have a minute to write as many connected words as they can, which the class discusses and determines their own objective.

I was working with a year 7 middle top set, so simplified the process by creating a class KPT (key Point Tool) from their ideas, and asking each person to transfer these to a Pyramid of Progress, which we returned to in the plenary to chart growth, I’ll be honest, I think this was too complicated, and would work better with a class that could really interrogate the task together.

7U Module 2 Lesson 14

Still, the KLA element was popular. I made laminated key word frames and attached them to physical keys, and placed these on Consensus Placemats. After scribbling down their thoughts, the groups enjoyed passing the keys around to symbolise the speaker,  as they discussed their connected words. It seemed to provide focus, stimulus and some ‘stickability’ about the hub of the learning we were about to attempt. And now I have the wipe clean resource, I’ll be trying it again. Practice makes perfect. Or better, at the very least!

The Pod of Glory, and Inclusion, Equality & Diversion

[DISCLAIMER]

Long blog coming up. I’m in Uni reflection mode.

I even spent some time in a big soft private pod chair in the library, with a laptop point and a purple cushion -lush! Nearly as cool as this stylish seating offering…

Hush-Chair-by-Freyja-Sewell

[THE INCLUSION DIVERSITY AND EQUALITY CONFERENCE]

Well, the IED conference has just drawn to close, and I was really impressed by the quality, depth and enthusiasm of the speakers. My head is full of little parcels of info and ideas that I hope to unwrap properly at some point.

My ONE BIG THING… T1 and T7
Lesley Powell’s keynote lecture on Socio-economic considerations and subsequent improvement strategies at Shotten Hall. Can I say I loved this without sounding too gushy?!

I said it. I loved this. Centred around the importance of aspiration, and the employment of innovation, creative and often unconventional intervention, future focussed investment and holistic pupil progress, I was really impressed and impacted.

Prior to teacher training, I worked for Creativity Culture and Education, who ran, and evaluated, the Creative Partnerships programme – so I’m already sold on the use of the arts and creative practitioners to drive the aspirations and subsequent achievements (not to mention economic gain – PWC gave our pupils a huge ROI of 16 points – way above national average). I’ve also spent the last 10 years working with inner-city youth to inspire improvement in their life circumstance and skills, so I was really, hmmmm, fired up I suppose, to see this in action alongside proven pupil progress in a school that won;t pay lip service to deprivation, looking instead to foster an environment of belief, that provides a framework to dream of achievement.

With half the school nearly on FSM, and gritty Ever6 stats indicated the longevity of the issue, it almost reduces the risk of focussing on, and possibly isolating pupils in less privileged scenarios, and potentially exacerbating their feeling of social exclusion.

Lesley also talked about behavioral concerns, emotional baggage and talked about always allowing pupils an exit route – which is some excellent advice I’ve been given before in the context of parenting. Moreover, her slides, from an OFSTED view, on progression and excellence were practical and useful.

I am going to ask if I can visit, and certainly, I’ve been prompted to think about the role of teacher-practioner -pioneer and how my skill set matches different school profiles and pupils. What kind of pupil, and progress is my teaching most aligned toward?

MY LITTLER THINGS…

I developed an awareness of the increasing significance of IED on the Ofsted agenda, and the range of susceptible children, from a variety of Protected Characteristics that I might have considered in the classroom.

T8
Those which were most greatly unpacked were probably sexual orientation and disability from a Learning barriers perspective – with the former being most provoking in terms of my preparedness to challenge cultural prevalent yet nevertheless offensive language that cultivates homophobic bullying.

T4
I also enjoyed thinking about EAL provision – the seminar and lecture included some simple, ‘problematic’ pupil engaging strategies that are actually transferable, and highlighted the intelligence that exists in a home language, and should be assumed in the second language, even through tests aren’t able to indicate this clearly, so stretch and challenge is crucial. Interestingly a lot of EAL students are also G&T, and with some additional provision and planning (Google translate, translated keywords, buddying, visual stimulus), can progress well alongside their language development, and actually, with the increase in vernacular tolerance, are less diverse in language ability from their monolingual peers than I might assume. Plus, they often have something to offer – use their context to educate the class about the wider world, for instance.

T5
I’ve been most exposed to, and will continue to be most exposed to pupils identified by the Disability Characteristic.

I’m spending my short placement at a school with a higher FSM%, so will use the opportunity to seek out aspirational strategies through professional dialogue where possible, since I don’t have any observation time at this school. The Head of T&L at my SD school suggested I spend some time at a school in a school with significantly more soci-eco issues to take into account, and Ill set this up once I’ve returned.

My main focus then, will be working with the SEN team, requesting additional training and exploring resources for literacy improvement strategies – particularly spelling and grammar – in my lower ability classes, whilst negotiating the challenge of pupil perceived stigmatization – hopefully a whole class approach to this with differentiated outcomes will alleviate this, or differentiated homework so that SEN scaffolded techniques are undertaken in individual settings. I also found Gina’s advice on working with LSA very valuable, as was her challenge to be aware of the prevailing existence of girls with unidentified learning needs, due to their early socialising skills – certainly this has brought to mind 1 Y9 pupil that I’m going to request is assessed.

Conclusion
Great conference, with speakers who were truly knowledgeable with excellent and inspiring models of practice- so much to take away and reflect on, and I hope I have the opportunity to go to similarly focused conferences in the future.

The Big Write

Seven years of water have swept under the academic bridge, and it’s been some time
since I’ve squirrelled myself into a corner, complete with a family-size box of crunchy nut cornflakes and the crazed look of a damsel in deadline distress.

Thankfully, the boy, some babies and a good few years of business experience has taught me that getting ahead is the new going under, and my assignments have been completed with less drama.

Here’s what I’ve been writing…

TTT1 – all about deep thinking: pedagogical theories and practice – it took me ages to get my groove on and lock that learned writing style down. Now a converted constructivist and a sold-out social-scenario linker, I was so relieved to get positive feedback, and a celebrated a distinction with… a trip to the library to get the books out for the next essay. Yay.
T1: I really had a chance to examine my expectations of pupils, their learning styles, experiences and manner of constructing knowledge. I’m really looking for ways now to build ‘chunking’ in my lessons, and ensure that each stage of my plans is a build on the previous.
T3: The essay also gave me a chance to deepen my understanding of the impact of subject knowledge, and how to express this to a class. I think I err on the romantic side of reasoning, and certainly was very captured by the challenge to bring wider, global significance to the texts that I teach. As a result, my remaining lessons on the Private Peaceful theme has links to modern warfare, with an age appropriate consideration of child soldiers, and Remembrance Sunday. I also examined the relationships between militant Fathers and their Sons in both Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and contemporary photography captured of Iraqi warfare.

PLC1 – a group project with 2 other students at my school, focused on ‘What Makes Outstanding Homework?’ Felt a lot more at home with this one –it was basically a project to run with a presentation, and my background is in recruitment projects and graphic design/events. I enjoyed learning about Active Research, and although it was too intense to re-conduct a solo project in the near future, it did demonstrate the benefits of working in collaboration with colleagues in CPD groups in the future, and hopefully one day I’ll complete an in depth study for a Masters.

Slide01

T2/T5: Can you believe that none of the teaching standards mentions homework? I found this so interest

ing, especially because the study really taught me homework is often an under-utilized tool in managing effective differentiation, and the importance of setting it in a considered fashion, so that each piece of work developed subject specific knowledge AND skills (such as writing to persuade), and also generic transferable skills (such an analysing). It’s another half hour of progress that can be made! Yes! I actually can’t wait to try some our ‘tool kit’ suggestions out. Here’s some of the slides we used…

Slide02 Slide04 Slide06 Slide08 Slide10 Slide12

I’ve also literally just submitted TTT2 (tick) so I’ll write a bit more about this later once I’ve had feedback.

w/c 12 Nov: Weekly Reflection: “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”

The misattributed and mistranslated Marie-Antoinette quote. Why? Well, the cake was made by girls from my mentors pastoral group, to celebrate a birthday, and they were so proud of it, and keen to discuss the effort gone into it, I felt pretty privileged to be offered a slice.

T8: Wider Responsibility
This was especially rewarding after my much harder lined Thinking Curriculum session I taught the pastoral on Thursday. I read through and annotated the supplied lesson plan beforehand, and the ever-awesome hub picked me up some Under 19 bank account flyers from Lloyds. Then I served it straight up, stayed strong and kept much better control (oh boy, ask me about the last session of you want a giggle sometime!) Improvised a peer questioning and answering AFL when one of the resources failed to materialise, and got good feedback from my professional mentor too, so felt pleased and mostly, relieved.

Back to cake. Princess MA is supposed to have dropped the immortal cake line, off the cuff and dripping in frippery, as a comment in response to ‘learning that the peasants had no bread. Since brioche was enriched with butter and eggs, as opposed to ordinary bread, the quote supposedly would reflect the princess’s obliviousness to the condition of the people.’ Thanks wiki.

T2: Pupil progress
Tenuous link now…myth, math – mix it all up and what you have is a shocking attempt at a solution to hunger. Got no Bread? Got any Brioche? No? Ok, well I give up.

As target setting week draws to a close, I’ve been asking myself what to do if a pupil doesn’t even have the requisite level of basics to bake with. Spelling, punctuation. The ability to sit in their chair. Moreover, I might see a need to feed, but when they don’t, do you bust a gut to give them flour and teach them how to fold?! Basically – yes.  Even after a handful of lessons, I do care about the progression of individuals. (See post beneath this in Assessment, and follow up comment). And that’s probably my major reflection of the week. The class is becoming a collection of individuals.

I’d love to be able to teach the Boy In The Striped Pyjamas with added emotional zing by the end of my teaching period – inspire some aptitude and appetite.

Now that I’m more on on top of the classroom environment I’m going to use some drama approaches (although I made the classic mistake of getting into a confrontation with a pupil who was being deliberately obstructive and argumentative and I asked them to leave the classroom. She said no. Cue nerves of steel, calm insistence and success on this occasion but I wouldn’t ever do it like that again – and got some quick staffroom advice in break on how to handle it better in future).

Differentiation /IEPs
I also spent a break time with a SEN coach – one of my kids has just been given a dyslexic diagnosis and expressed a lot of worry over this. I did differentiated starters anyway this week (depending on your target card – I always set up early so that each pupil arrives to a book, a worksheet and a target card on their desk. Once established I’ll get a pupil to do the resources, especially if it’s straight after my duty break.) This week I did this particular pupil something different again, and got coaching on how to  work with him 121 for a bit while the rest of the class completed their worksheet. It seemed to help, and I’m using the same techniques for improving spellings in the pupils exercise book too.Its very hard to offer additional support to 1 pupil without singling them out though. I did however seat the pupil deliberately in a seat that meant I could work next to him but still see the rest of the class. Need to go back to the SEN coach on how not to alienate this pupil.

T4: PLanning 
I’m doing a lot better with timings (my target for last week). Have nearly halved my expected content and this seems ot be more accurate, and now I’m really enjoying having the time to do meaningful plenaries (I’ll unpack this more in my weekly lesson observation on the uni blog later). I’m also not indicating in the pla which bits of the lesson plan can be cut or shrunk, depending on the comprehension time needed by pupils- becasue this is harder to predict, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s take the time to make sure the class gets it before moving on. O know this seems obvious – but it’s great when you see the product of that ‘click’ moment in their produced work. And a tiny bit soul destroying when the semi colon you’ve  imaginatively and creatively taught, is spotted in an exercise book subdividing a single independent clause. Noooooooo!

OK. More lesson plans to do. Trained on using the camera this week at school too, to get footage for my TTT2 but it;s totally booked up, forever. Need a plan B. Think the Uni might have some cameras…

w/c 12 Nov: Weekly Reflection: Wise Words from Mz Wintour

“It’s always about timing” she said.
If it’s too soon, no one understands. If it’s too late, everyone’s forgotten.”

This week I’ll be focussing on Standard T4 – Effective Planning,with an emphasis on TIMING. With 100m lesson cycles, you wouldn’t imagine this to be a problem, but the ideal lesson plan follows a double learning loop, which, coupled with extensive SOWS, has left me prising in my plenaries with seconds to spare. I’m aiming to talk less, cut out unnecessary class feedback (i.e after every activity, they don;t actually need to respond back to the front, if Ive circulated and dealt with misconceptions etc) and be more ruthless about how much of the SOW lesson plans I try and teach – and also to what level – a lot of things I’ve pitched prohibitively too high, and need to work on ways to chunk learning in a staggered approach toward the difficult concepts.

My week B is also much heavier, with A Level and Y10 classes too (I team-teach the Y10 class and assist with A Level, although the teacher has suggested I try my hand at some parts of the lesson.) So my holistic timing was out of line too – lessons are still taking me a long time to develop, so I had some crazy late nights toward the end. Multiple music practices for a wedding this weekend didn’t help either, and my poor voice has taken a battering that even Voula-cises and Vocalzone couldn’t  really help with. Still, the more time I get under my belt, the better I’m getting.

Classroom Management (T7)
Feedback on last weeks focus is really positive though – and I got ‘outstanding’ feedback on my year 9 class! Was so so so delighted, as a lot of my effort last week went into working with the class teacher to develop strategies for managing the class, played it a lot stricter and stronger without loosing rapport with the class, who were much more attentive and progressed really well during my lessons with them this week. Even handled a repeatedly aggressive and argumentative pupil on report without faltering, and it’s boosted my confidence lots.

Pupil Progression (T2)
Moreover, its enabled me to plan for their progression, which has been on my mind a lot since my recent training gave me access to their statistics. Each pupil is supposed to make 3 levels of progress this year, but every one of them is already behind their targets from year 8.

I came up with these target cards (based on last lesson, where we determined what these were using the AF grids), which I also use to determine seating for the lesson. They remind pupils of simple ways they can progress, and I’m working on some sort of sticker on card system for their little victories.

Assessment (T6)
I also marked my first batch of assessed PEE work, which will be used to set year 7 levels thus far. Took ages, but feel like I got to grips with it by the end. Marking the end product has also really developed my understanding of the process of TEACHING it. That might sound obvious, but I’ll be able now to work out what level of output I’m looking for, look at the AF descriptor, and design tasks and teaching toward this.

I really put  a lot of thought into the targets for each pupil too, which I’m now aware of and can again, tailor my teaching toward individuals. I’m contemplating setting different homework depending on their targets too. As it’s a shared class, it;s a while until I see them again, so really hoping my ideas on helping the class respond to my feedback are still pertinent.

Right. Must sleep before  it all starts again tomorrow…

Indiana: bread, butter and brûlée

So much to say! Here goes…

If I could summarise the week in three words they would be…

Organisation
Relationships
Differentiation

Let’s break it down…

ORGANISATION
I have a place for EVERYTHING. Which is at right angles to everything ELSE. However teaching is stretching even my abilities to be in the right place, time with the right kit and right kids.

I’ve decided that the best way to stay organise, in spite of having to teach from a variety of classrooms, is a box on wheels that’ll be my base, basically. I’m going to copy another teachers ideas to have pre-assembled kit bags per table grouping with prit stick, gels pens etc so that pupils can quickly get to work on activities and exercises.

I’m also trying very hard to stay on top of the Uni workload to free up time to be with the kids, but also in recognition of the extra work that planning full lessons will have, and wanting to be able to focus on this. So TTT is done and dusted (subject to peer review) and my group has made a cracking start on PLC1, with a view to analysing the first phase  of our collated data over the half term.

Doing TTT has made me question the gap between pedagogy in theory and in practice -there isn’t really time to consider how true to Enlightenment principles the lesson plan held. I suppose it’s all buried deep in each teachers motivations and approach to how they envisage their pupils progressing. It’s the methods that are more obvious, and not necessarily coherently group-able into a particular stream of practice either. It seems the most successful pedagogy is ‘Best-Fit’ – to the time of day, the class, the subject -whatever method is needed in the moment; active learning, De Bono’s hats, questioning techniques, Kagan’s consensus placemats, peer coaching or maybe some minister’s cat quizzing… the list is impressive and interchangeable.

RELATIONSHIPS (T1, T7)
My focus this week has been Classroom Management and the teaching persona, following some great training on this at both Uni and in school. I’ve been particularly observing teacher led routines in the classroom as well as techniques and expectations. As a result I’m developing my own set of expectations, which I’ll introduce as I take on classes more fully. I’ve had the opportunity to teach in or manage elements of classes this week, and have done so without any great crisis of confidence, and successfully corrected behaviour so I hope I’m not just getting a novelty response!

In response to my training, I’ve also made a real effort to get to know pupils, standing at the door to greet and say goodbye, asking questions, having conversations, showing interest, staying professional. This has been brilliant actually -it’s helped me learn names and faces much more quickly, and helped me really start caring about pupil progress.

Here’s some shots from a recent segment I did in a lesson on extracting meaning from words. I opened with a personal story that seemed to be engaging, then tempted the class with some chocolate market research which translated into processing the concept for the Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, and got some evidence of engagement and understanding. The class teacher helped me adapt the segment in anticipation of behavioural concerns,  and I added some scaffolding for one of the tasks to facilitate lower abilities (T4: Work collaboratively to adapt school resources where appropriate). Here’s some shots from the power point and whiteboard…

I continue to enjoy the relational element of working in a vibrant department with inspiring teachers and am becoming more confident in engaging in teacher dialogue where possible too.

Gems of advice this week include (all seem to be T2/ pupil-progress related)

  • Remembering that at this stage (Y8), the text is a vehicle for learning skills so concentrate on developing these to encourage pupil progression, rather than getting too strung up on the particulars of the plot.
  • Reflection on feedback is really important – build this into your routine so that pupils learn to automatically respond to your feedback.
  • Don’t plough through a SOW if homework indicates a lack of understanding – stop and consolidate this before progressing
  • Create space for emotional reflection too – how did this grade make you feel? Link to growth mindset and encourage First Attempt In Learning
  • Tailor tailor tailor. Plan lessons with anticipation of abilities. Know and SHOW how you’re doing this, but never dumb down and go for stretch and challenge.

I also met up with a group of prospective teachers taking place in an observation day with my Professional Mentor, and gave them a quick low down on the School Direct programme and answered a few questions. It was a good chance to reflect actually…
School Direct Pros..
– Feel professional, like a recognised teacher and part of a staff team by being in school right from the start
– By returning to Home school after Feb half Term, you are already more focussed on facilitating pupil development than getting too strung up on your own practice, since you’ll be picking up your original classes again (T2)
– Being in Uni led training less encourages you to take a pro-active role in your own training, since you are responsible for asking your mentor for self-identified training needs.

DIFFERENTIATION (T5)

I’ve been given my final timetable, which I should add that I really do like -both the classes and the balance, which is weighted toward week B teaching, but this gives me plenty of time to be a week ahead of myself – and I took time this week assemble all the class lists and seating plans and check my pupils through the SEN database. One of my classes in particular has about a quarter of children highlighted as needing additional attention or having action plans requiring progression reports. We had SEN training this week, and I downloaded some info on how to tailor learning toward struggling learners, but I also have asecond observation with our specialist SEN English teacher today, and will ask her for help and advice too. I know this will take time initially, but become more natural as I spend more time with the same learners.

Loosely connected to this theme is my very interesting observations with Drama and Physics – both excellent examples of active and engaging learning. I requested the Physics observation because the teacher is practicing Kagan’s Collaborative Learning – which I’m interested in, and enjoyed seeing successfully at work within a different assessment framework.  The drama teacher and I discussed the separation of Shakespeare from Drama back into the English classroom, and I’ve asked to go back and watch her teaching Macbeth to lower Y10 set later in the year. I also spied one of my tougher classes really engaging with the drama lesson in the next studio, so asked my mentor if I could go and observe them in action too. I want them to know, that I know, they CAN do active learning, and that I expect the same from them in my more Voula-esque lessons.

And so to my last point….

Differing advice. On the one hand we’re encouraged to try new things this year, to experiment with pedagogy, establish lessons in our own style with fresh ideas. Part of me is conscious that potential employers at our placement schools may be looking for evidence of initiative and innovation in my practice. On the other hand, teachers remind us that this is the year to get the basics under out belt, Nothing fancy, just solid, straight forward teaching that facilitates learning, and to wait until our NQT year to try new ideas. Bread and butter teaching, hold the creme brûlée. Obviously we’re still getting our feet under the table, but I’m still wondering how the rest of the year will go. I guess they’re both puddings and pretty tasty either way…

running, stationary and making the right impressions

Cross country day!
I used to DREAD this at school, who knew 12 years later I’d be running a marathon at the weekend. SO I decided to run it with the students (some other teachers do too), try and motivate some team togetherness and I genuinely enjoyed developing a relationship with the girls in my pastoral group. My mentor reckoned the girls would appreciate it too, so off we all went…

One girl in particular is really sporty but seems to hold herself back – it’s not cool to actually run apparently. But with some positivity and the promise of a Kit Kat for anyone who ran with us, she ran the whole thing and came in the top ten. Result. And really rewarding for me, as she was buzzing and really proud of herself. Yay! My first mini-Pffifer-moment! I went back for the girls we lost too, and made sure we all got some choc! Hurray for some sporting pupil achievement.

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Also loving this pencil case that belongs to one of my super glam PGCE pals, and post-its. Who doesn’t? Was therefore ridiculously delighted to start our training day yesterday with feathery pretty piles of pink ones. The exercise in question helped us get to grips with professionalism – lots to think about. I’m going to ask my mentor today for feedback on how students and teachers perceive me, and I’ll use the feedback to work on my developing professional persona. Also going to be quizzing my mentor on her chosen pedagogical approach and how to focus my week on Classroom Management.

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A little bit about me

I'm training as a teacher on the School Direct route. It's new this year and puts me in the classroom more than a traditional PGCE. I'm also training for a marathon and really enjoy running. But not so much in winter. I've been blessed with a gorgeous hub and 2 awesome kids who are 3 and 1 and being total dudes about me going back to work full-time. And that is pretty much that.