Personally it’s been a genuine concern with the “new” levels of accountability and evidence required in education in recent years that I may have to lose a little sparkle from my lessons in order to produce a greater evidence trail. This isn’t an issue because of my school, we have an inspirational team of leaders who fully support us; it’s a change in the educational landscape which affects all of us. If a tree falls in an empty wood…how do we measure its progress?
To protect my personal pedagogical style, which I admit is only one way of doing it as there are many, I have devised and researched a variety of methods to easily evidence activities/pedagogical practices that otherwise would fly under the radar and have “no evidence”. Some of these will seem so obvious you may already use them or will be surprised that you’re not. This means I really shouldn’t claim any credit for any of them.
Is evidence important for the sake of it? NO, but…it allows your line manager or any external body, or parents, or learners, or you if you’re looking back weeks or months later to see what is going on with your learners, to see what was happening, which is invaluable. As one former SLT member, Michael Laidler, once told me “The books should tell a story.”
It also means that you can keep doing the interesting things and be focused on learning rather than creating activities focused around producing evidence.
Evidence Quick Wins:
Get Learner to write…
[Pair Work Task: “Name of Task” in “Name of Other Learner’s” Book.]
It’s not the most technical solution in the world but it signposts to anyone checking where the work is and what they were doing in that lesson.
Chat about an issue:
Option 1: Before the chat…
Get them to Brainstorm/Bulletpoint/List/ Write a paragraph prior to the discussion.
Option 2: After the chat…
Make them bullet point key ideas.
Write about which was the most important idea and why?
Give them a question to follow up from the chat to write about for 5 minutes. You can even make it up based on what they said.
(No harm in a bit of literacy is there?)
The AFL crowd loves a whiteboard, mistakes can be made, ideas improved, quick checks on student learning. There are a lot of positives… if you make them note down their score and what they need to improve from quick questions you add evidence to the list. If they use them for drafting answers or definitions, get them to write the final draft in their book. If it’s used to brainstorm make them write down their best (or best 3) ideas and explain why.
P4C/Whole class discussion:
Whole class discussions/philosophy for children (ask me about this) can leave a big evidence gap. Some amazing and thoughtful learning can happen in these sessions…let’s prove that to the doubters.
Use a feedback sheet to evidence the thinking happening in the lesson and as a metacognitive tool; making this more than just evidence gathering. Some prompts I like to use:
The question we discussed was…
My answer to the question would be…
An argument against my point would be…
The best point made today was…
One thing I wish I had said was…
The person I think deserves a RAPP (Merit/House/Team) point for their contribution to this lesson is…
Alternatively: Write up an argument based on the question discussed as a homework task.
If you talk to them get them to evidence your support.
I tend to use Stamp/Write/Respond.
Step One: I talk the learner and stamp a “Verbal Feedback” in their book. I could stop there but then there’s no real evidence. You could just randomly do that in books anyway.
Step Two: The student writes down my advice/comments/feedback question in a separate colour. (We use green)
Step Three: I wander off while the student responds to the feedback/answers the question, still with that green pen. I may even wander back later and give the comment a quick tick. Easy marking.
If you wander round the room advising, guiding and prompting students all the time you probably bombard the learners with feedback and praise. Look at their books after the lesson and they may have evidence of their hard work, but where is the evidence of your impact? Try these two simple tips.
1) Carry your pen at all times; write on their books while you’re on the move. It also means if they forget as soon as you walk away it’s written down. It also means that there’s more marking in the book!
2) Carry your reward stickers (or stamp); you’ll praise more if you’re thinking about it. Put the reward sticker in the book, and then get the student to write what they did well. Reinforces the positives in your class as well as evidencing rewards and positive feedback.
Follow up form from the task. Make yourself a generic one that you can tweak when required. Cuts on planning time for group projects/tasks if you have a template.
Questions I like on a group feedback form
1) Describe the task… (Big box for this.)
2) What went well? Why?
3) What could you do to improve in similar tasks in future?
4) What are the three most important things you found out/thought about?
5) Who on your team worked well? Tell me about it…
Obviously as mentioned above if you want to make this specific that’s great, but having a basic proforma to use is a great first step to evidencing group work and the questions are focused on metacognition. What did you do, how did you do it and what did you learn?
You can also use the simple signpost from pair task above.
If you’ve had a cover lesson and the work isn’t as you’d wish it to be write the words “Cover Lesson” in the book. It doesn’t solve the problem on those rare occasions but it signposts the reason.