Speed Dating!

i_heart_teaching_classic_round_sticker-ra2213e64c5454589b0b6fa00f7ce4796_v9waf_8byvr_324Last Wednesday I went speed-dating with my entire teaching staff. My wife will no doubt be pleased to hear that I didn’t go home with any of them, but I did come away with a whole list of great teaching ideas and examples of good practice that are already making a different in classrooms here at Wellacre. Read on to find out what they were…

It’s all @TeacherToolkit’s fault. In this blog post he describes it as a ‘risk’, and I certainly felt that way as I stuck 50-odd sticky labels with pre-assigned numbers and letters onto the chairs in the school hall. What if they didn’t say anything at all? How could I be sure that what they were talking about was ‘on message’?

As it turned out, I needn’t have worried. I’d been deliberately open with staff before the event, and I think colleagues appreciated having plenty of prep time to hone their 60-second delivery. My guidance was as follows: “I want you to be ready to talk to a colleague for no more than 60 seconds about a positive change that you’ve made to your teaching since September, what it’s impact has been and how you know.” I provided some simple prompts for both speakers and listeners, and topped it off with a simple voting system – all of which was shared in advance and helped along some colleagues who might not have been as confident speaking about their own practice.

The experience of standing – ringmaster style – in the centre of 30 simultaneous conversations about improving teaching was quite simply humbling. At times I struggled to keep an eye on the timer because I became temporarily distracted by a snippet I’d overheard, but on each occasion I just managed to get the whistle blown. What’s a few seconds between friends?

It was all over too quickly and very smoothly, and it was fantastic to hear some of the conversations continuing throughout the rest of our twilight CPD programme.

I’d promised prizes though, so there were votes to count! In staff briefing on the Friday morning I wanted to read them all out but had to keep to time so I’m sharing some ‘honourable mentions’ here in addition to the most popular. Here they are, in no particular order:


Richard (Science) – No longer accepts one-word responses. Students have learnt that they need to extend their answer before they are let off the hook.

Mark (Business) – Shares a WABOLL (what a bad one looks like) instead of a WAGOLL. Powerful for students to deconstruct this and see what not to do.

Julia (Technology) – Chooses a different student to rephrase her question to follow-up on a student whose answer wasn’t deep enough.

Jen (English) – Working on lengthening her wait time after a student answers as well as before.

Rob (PE) – Gives written feedback anonymously; students have to work in small groups to match which piece of work deserves which feedback.

Sinéad (RE) – Students peer-assess using a ‘Prove It’ ladder after drafting a piece of work but before handing it in. Peers hold each other to account over whether they have demonstrated understanding or not.

Amit (Technology) – Uses simple questions (e.g. “Tell me why” for students to respond to in his written feedback. Gets straight to the point, is easy for students to follow and makes marking quicker.

The runners-up

Paul (Geography) – Shares his WALT and WILFs in numerical codes that students have to crack.

Céline (MFL) – Has an ongoing competition within her classes based around the Tour de France. Teams earn points for speaking in French, which increases engagement and target language participation.

Steve (Computing) – Uses multiple-choice quizzes for real-time assessment and instant formative feedback. Maximises impact for very little effort.

The winner

Heather (RE) – Uses a random selector to choose which student feeds back after a quick Do Now task. This ensures all students engage and have a response ready without taking up valuable lesson time in collecting responses from every student. They all know it might be them so there are no opt-outs!

Why not choose just one of these ideas to try this week?


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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