The Work Ethic

Our first twilight INSET of the year took place last week in support of this term’s whole-Academy focus on developing a strong work ethic. We’ve already been working on the language we all use in lessons, and the twilight was a great opportunity for a variety of colleagues to showcase their excellent practice in this area. 9 staff led short workshops introducing strategies that other colleagues could take away and apply in their own lessons.

Session plan for our INSET on the Work Ethic

Session plan for our INSET on the Work Ethic

The introductory slot (presentation available on SlideShare) began with these four ‘big questions’ for colleagues to reflect on:

  1. How do your students know that you value their effort?
  2. How do your students know it’s OK to take risks by committing to challenging tasks?
  3. When you tell students to “work hard”, how do they know what you mean?
  4. At what point are you holding students to account for the work they’ve done? Is it early enough?

I drew heavily on the work of Doug Lemov, in particular his Be Seen Looking, No-Opt-Out and Right is Right techniques. I thoroughly recommend Doug’s work to anyone looking to make their everyday classroom routines more efficient in encouraging students’ learning.

Along with this clip, we also watched IRIS Connect footage of one of our own teachers who is emerging as a master of choosing just the right language to get his students working hard. Here are a few highlights:

“You’re not working hard… but you can.”

“Would that be the same?” “No, that one’s negative” “Good. You’re thinking hard about this; get on with it”

“I think you’ve got the gist of this, and because I know you’ve done that one, I know you’ll be able to figure out the pattern”

“Is that too easy? Challenge yourself and move on”

“Let’s think about it. I know you can work it out if you think harder”

“Have you thought hard enough?”

The three key ideas I developed throughout the session (and which ran like a thread through the workshops which followed) are summed up in this slide:

3 key ideas

Our shared language of effort has been jointly developed over the course of the half term by a number of colleagues, inspired by this blog from John Tomsett. I launched the final version which we’re calling ‘Commitment to Learning’:

Commitment to learning

What follows is a round-up of each individual workshop, complete with links to the resources that were used on the day. Apologies in advance if they don’t make as much sense to someone who wasn’t there, but feel free to contact the colleague directly for further information.

The Flipped Classroom

Allan (@PEWellacre) introduced colleagues to the idea of flipped lessons, encouraging students to take greater responsibility for their learning, by flipping his own workshop. Staff who attended were asked to watch the following clip to prepare, then developed this through discussion of the impact on his own teaching (slides available here).

Active Revision Strategies

Michelle (@MrsMONeill) shared the Humanities faculty’s strategies for holding students to account over the amount and quality of revision they are doing. This was a very popular workshop and I already know it’s generated a lot of interest from other faculties. Michelle talked about active revision tasks that are being set for students instead of homework, and the benefits of regular factual testing. Resources are after the diagram:

Humanities Active Revision

Factual Testing in History

Active Revision Year 11 – Autumn Term 2

Routines for Effort 1

Head of Maths Martin engages his students from the very beginning of his lessons with his ‘Forget Me Not’ questions, and rewards them for their effort level (how many they’ve attempted) rather than their attainment. He did exactly the same in this workshop with colleagues; one teacher was overheard that she’d ‘never worked so hard’ following the 20-minute session! Resources to follow.

Measuring Effort

This was my workshop, all about I’ve been trying to make sure my students know what I mean when I ask them to ‘work harder’, and what happens to them if they don’t! The handout is available here (Measuring Effort), and I’ll be following up with photos of students’ work as a seperate post in the near future.

Feedback in Practical Subjects

Claire (@WellacreArt) and George are trialling very similar strategies in their respective subjects – Art and Product Design – in order to develop the culture of continuous improvement that we’re striving for across the Academy. Here’s a selection of the resources they shared, and feedback already received from those attending!

Product Design feedback wagoll

GCSE Art and Design Learning Review Sheet

Routines for Effort 2

Jane (@MFLWellacre) and Céline (@CCesbron) have been working on a toolkit of strategies for encouraging their students to develop a strong work ethic. Their presentation is available on Slideshare here.

Differentiation for Effort

Many of our students don’t make their best effort because they have too many ‘can’t do’ options. English teacher Leor shared some ideas about removing barriers, and presented some strategies for everyday differentiation without lots of extra work – including same source/different questions, differentiation by chunking texts, using carefully chosen sentence starters and Andy Griffith and Mark Burns’ Learning Grids.


About Stacey Partridge

Assistant Principal responsible for Teaching & Learning and CPD, Stem, Transition & primary liaison. Applied Learning Quality Nominee, CEIAG, Prince's Trust and SMSC. Wellacre Academy Flixton, Greater Manchester
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1 Response to The Work Ethic

  1. Pingback: Something like a phenomenon: Lesson on a Page | Making Our Best Better

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