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Sunday, 25 November 2012

Making Progress in Lessons

OK rewrite number 3.

I don't know why I struggle with posts like this, maybe I feel I need to be as perfect in these posts to avoid people telling me that I am talking rubbish. Maybe I just am too hypercritical of my own work. Whatever the reason is I am not looking to rewrite this as quickly as I can so here goes.

As a teacher we are judged on our ability to bring students along in our subjects by scaffolding tasks and information so that they can reach what is predicted to be their achievable grades (all though we all know this is never enough). So... what am I writing about? Well in my NQT year one of the biggest criticisms I faced and had to deal with was the showing of progress in my lessons. Now some people may find this easy to do, others may struggle like I did or maybe the ways I found to deal with this are deemed to be unsuitable or outdated.

So deep breath.

Here we go!

Mini plenaries.

There you go, thank you and goodnight!

Seriously.

At the end of most tasks just check how people are doing. It is that easy. The other way to do this is to have enough differentiated tasks available so that students can work at their own pace. The main thing however is to ensure that you have expectations of what you want the students to do as a bare minimum during the lesson and be willing to reward those who exceed your expectations. If behaviour is your main issue speed up the pace of the class. Set visible timers for students. Have plenty (even if it is too much) of extension tasks - use the further extension tasks to promote creativity in your students (research or if this is the answer what is the question type of things not just more questions).

If you find students struggle to engage with work then make sure your starter tasks tap in to something which you are confident the students can do. Even if it takes the form of a word puzzle or a mini practical. Show the students that they can 'do' what you are trying to get them to do and then move from there. At every stage, where appropriate check what they are doing. Even if it is a case of circling with a pen and ticking work they have completed in lesson (saves on marking at a later date). The important part is to be positive with what they are doing. To show the students that you know what you are on about and that you are able to help them in your subject.

If they are a GCSE class (or similar) then share with them what the examiners might test them on. In short get the students to see that the us and them is you and the students against the exams. Not them against you!

So what things should we remember?

  1. start with something they will know, differentiation is not just making things easier often that leads to boredom
  2. have plenty of tasks and keep the pace high, a lot of behaviour issues can be avoided by providing things for the students to do
  3. extension tasks should be different not just more of the same but harder!
  4. check the students progress regularly and provide positive feedback and comments
  5. be confident with what you are doing, students are more savvy at sniffing out nerves than we think, if you are confident they feel more secure in your teaching and in my experience this makes lessons go more smoothly
  6. finally be approachable, willing to listen to them and try to look like you are enjoying your lessons, this may sound silly but students tend to find these things important so go a long way in teaching!

I know most of what I have said is basic practise for people and that there are many layers on top of this that we all do during our lessons anyway but whenever I have a bad lesson I always try to revert back to the same formula - like a default reset. I often ask myself 'where do they start?, where do they need to get to?, how can I get them there best? and how do I know/can I show when they are there?'

If I can answer that question then surely you I'm doing my job properly?

Well if I'm not no-one since my NQT has said anything!

As ever comments are welcome providing they are not just saying I am wrong or rude!

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