Inspired by this collection of posts by Shaun Allison, I went out into lessons this week specifically looking for snapshots of great and/or developing practice – our ‘bright spots’ (I hope DHS will forgive us for nicking the title, but I couldn’t think of a more appropriate one!)
First up is a lesson I observed in RE. Outstanding in every sense of the word, but not because the teacher put on a show. Far from it. In the 20 minutes I was in the classroom the teacher did very little, but the students’ focus on improving their work and making their best better was infectious. I particularly liked how high-quality teacher feedback from the previous lesson was linked to differentiated tasks stuck in to exercise books – students knew exactly what they needed to do next, how it would help them make progress and were given just enough scaffolding to do so through a corresponding writing frame.
Next, one of our amazing English teachers is currently trying out strategies to reduce her marking workload as part of our termly focus. This week she updated me on her progress and the benefits of marking students work in the lesson, while they’re still working on it:
1) You get to speak to all the students in the lesson2) You can deal with any challenges that students may be having there and then – differentiating as you go.3) You can easily identify who is on task and who needs support for the task which you can add to whilst marking.4) 26 less sheets to mark at night!
Elsewhere in the English faculty, another colleague Giles has taken up the blogging reins himself. This one about parents’ evenings is full of excellent advice.
Our KS3 humanities curriculum is skills-based and often blurs the boundaries between history, RE and – in this case – stand up comedy. Pupils hung on to Heather‘s every word in a Y7 lesson on medieval trials yesterday, but it was me who was very nearly in stitches when the discussion turned to ‘ordeal by cake’. Made me think of this.
Our PE faculty regularly remind me that practical subjects can be just as effective, if not more so, at assessing and providing feedback than written subjects. This caught my eye on their stall at Tuesday’s CPD marketplace: self- and peer-assessment against a photographic ‘WAGOLL’.
Some of our science labs are ‘through’ and cheeky senior leaders like myself sometimes use them as short-cuts to other classrooms. I appreciate this can be a pain for the teacher but it often leads to walking in on wonderful snippets, like seeing Dan explaining the non-linear essence of space-time by making holes in a folded piece of paper with a pencil!
Although Wednesday’s 15-Minute Forum had a decidedly techie theme to it, elsewhere a Y12 Engineering student reminded me that old-school draftsmanship with a sharp pencil isn’t dead just yet: “It’s retro sir, innit?’
Finally, an email from a colleague who’s been having a bit of a hard time recently. It made my week to hear that she’d rediscovered what it was that makes her classroom buzz!
“Just taught a lesson and I feel it has gone amazingly, not sure what Ofsted would say, but my class have enjoyed themselves, they’ve all moved forwards from the start of the lesson and their teacher is not a nervous wreck and has done very, very little. It’s just my normal lesson and it feels FAB.I know that there is an emphasis sometimes in teaching on the negative, and only sharing when things don’t go well… so just sharing my positivity. What a superb start to a Tuesday!”