T&L Immersive Enquiry: Week 22/2017

Findings / Key questions

Context: 22 teachers took part in immersive enquiries during Week 22. The findings were written on the windows of the Teacher Hub, and were based upon the discussions that took place via the protocol of ‘What do you see, hear and feel?’

When lessons were at their best…

Learner productivity:

A striking feature of the enquiry throughout the week was the level of productivity that was generally taking place across most subjects. Many participating teachers were struck by how focused learners were – especially during the Demonstration phase (and across all year groups) and this is one of the major developments over recent months. It is absolutely clear that learners are working for longer periods of time, and that teacher expectations of what they can produce has also increased. Where this was the case, activities seem to have a greater sense of clarity with regards to what was expected, and the worry that teachers are working harder than the learners is beginning to be addressed. A key question to consider could be ‘How can we ensure that learners are engaged in work that challenges their prior levels of attainment?’

Scaffolds

There were various scaffolds in place to support the productivity of learners across DC. The use of WAGOLLs, references to rubrics, sentence starters and other supportive material is becoming the norm in many subject areas. The use of frames on desks is an emerging example of how scaffolds are becoming a feature of many classrooms, and how learners are using them to support their learning. Although levels of independence for learners are clearly increasing, our next steps need to focus on ensuring that learners know what to do if they get stuck, instead of relying solely on the teacher to help them.

'Many participating teachers were struck by how focused learners were...'

Teacher insistency

There was a definite improvement in the level of insistency from many teachers across DC. The most effective examples revolved around the use of pace to ensure that learners remained focused, and checking questions like ‘Harry… can you tell about what I would like everyone to do next?’ This was used effectively in some instances to replace ‘Does everyone know what they’re supposed to be doing?’ as it allowed the teacher to evaluate the level of clarity of understanding from learners in the class. In addition, there was definitely an increase in the use of positive reinforcement strategies to praise what the teacher wanted, instead of purely reprimanded instances of negative behaviour. As a result, there were few examples of disruptive behaviour seen.

Routines

Many participating teachers commented on how effective routines were in some lessons for enabling learners to quickly engage with activities, and to support the teaching methods and behaviours. In one Science lesson it was clear that the routine was for two learners to hand out the resources, the class’ equipment was quickly taken out of bags, the class engaged with a Connect activity, all whilst the Teacher scanned the classroom and asked probing questions (seemingly within 60 seconds.) In other lessons teachers were more assertive with regards to insisting on less fuss, and more focus on phrases like ‘…I’m still waiting… eyes on me… all pens should be down’. In other examples of effective routines one teacher in Science ensured that the class were dismissed by ensuring that uniforms were in good order, the classroom was neat and tidy, and questions were used to check and probe for misconceptions.

Articulate learners

Increasingly, our learners are using sophisticated language to describe activities surrounding T&L practices and methodology. Many were able to articulate key terminology in detailed sentences such as rubrics, WAGOLL, DIRT, feedback, Connect Phase, specific learning muscles, peer critique, and there were few instances where learners could not explain what they were doing in sufficient detail. References from learners to Grades 1-9 was commonplace, but they were not as confident when expressing their understanding around target grades / expectations (although when prompted could do so via support from the stickers on the front of exercise books).

'There was a definite improvement In the level of insistency from many teachers across DC.'

Active participation

here was a notable increase in the amount of learners that were actively participating in lessons in comparison to previous enquiries, although this remains a key focus for development across most subjects. Where this was the case, the teacher did not settle for the prevailing passive status quo. In one Geography lesson the teacher made explicit references to ‘…come on that table, you need to get involved, and the back table over there also needs to get involved. You’ve got 15 seconds before I ask one of you.’ In other areas directed questioning was used to keep learners on their toes, and lollipop sticks were used to randomly generate names for class discussion. There were some instances of Kagan Co-operative Structures but these generally revolved around shoulder partners, and think, pair, share. Whilst these were effective vehicles for ensuring active participation, DC needs to return to broadening teacher repertoires in this area.

Learning environments

There was much discussion about the quality of some of our classrooms across DC. The word ‘botheredness’ was used by several teachers to explain the feeling that they had when they walked into some environments (indeed this led to many stating that they needed to improve their own to match the quality across DC). Many classrooms have moved beyond the notion of using display as merely ‘wallpaper’ to make the walls look attractive, and are actively using subject specific material to promote progress in their respective subjects. Furthermore, the use of calming music was prevalent in many areas, and it was used to great effect during prolonged periods of productivity. Many participating teachers were struck by the effect that this had on learners, and was particularly notable in English and Geography.

Learners’ exercise books

The quality of presentation in learners’ books across DC is considerably better than just one year ago. There were many instances where teachers were explicit in stating exactly how learners should present their work, and the majority responded positively. Interestingly, learners were keen to show participating teachers their work over recent weeks and this was a notable difference to enquires from the past. The high standard of presentation in one Maths lesson was indicative of the class’ overall behaviour and effort, and this seemed to reflect the overall attitude of the learners’ focus on some very challenging mathematical concepts. Participating teachers commented on how the quality of presentation reflected the overall ethos that prevailed. The quality of feedback was also generally positive, with numerous instances of green pen being used to respond to teachers’ marking, and there were also of learners redrafting their work. The use of QR codes / YouTube videos to promote feedback in Nurture is just one example of the increased focus on the quality of feedback across DC. The challenge remains to ensure that it positively affects the progress and achievement of all learners.

Learner dispositions / behaviours

There was clear evidence of the considerable improvements in learning dispositions and classroom behaviour across most areas of DC during the enquiry. There were very few examples of disruptive behaviour, and many instances of collaborative and responsible behaviour from all year groups. This is not to say that inappropriate behaviour has been eradicated, but there seemed to be a step change in learners’ attitudes towards their learning in comparison to (for example) just 1 year ago. Where dispositions and behaviour of learners was exceptional, confident teachers facilitated lessons via positive, warm and calm classroom environments. In addition, these teachers seemed comfortable in their surroundings, and weren’t afraid to give something of themselves to their classes, or even make fun of themselves. Nevertheless, the climate was still one that clearly meant business and learners knew where the boundaries were.

Comfortable teachers

It was great to see such positive vibes surrounding teachers enquiring into each other’s practice. There was not one instance of any classroom teachers showing discomfort when 3 of their colleagues walked in. Interestingly, learners are showing less surprise when teachers enter their classroom as they too are comfortable with the enquiry and SLT supportive monitoring processes.

Key questions still remain:

‘To what extent do CTLs and SLT have their fingers on the pulse of what is happening in our classrooms?’

and just as important

‘How can immersive enquiries become part and parcel of what we do as a school to develop the practice of classroom teachers?’

Created By
jamie portman
Appreciate

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