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My Reflections on a Wonderful #PedagooHampshire16
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What happens when Teachers and School Leaders learn to put themselves first?

On Saturday 17th September, I was delighted to attend Pedagoo Hampshire 16 in Alton. This event, which featured a day of interactive seminars hosted by individuals across the educational landscape, aimed to discuss and tackle key issues in education and create a forum for speakers to share their rich experience and expertise.

My belief is that teaching is a vocation. In the words of Parker J Palmer, it is a calling that invites our “deepest gladness to meet the world’s deepest need”. Yet for so many in the profession their ‘deepest gladness’ has been lost.

I decided therefore to base my seminar around “Taking Care of the Soul in the Role” and on how teachers and school leaders must learn to nurture the ‘being’ in Human-being’ through affording themselves the kindness and attention to meet their deepest needs. I sought to encourage those who attended to reflect on what was the most precious thing they brought to their role and challenged them to reflect on these crucial questions:

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Click here to download the rest of the slides from my talk “Taking Care of the Soul in the Role”

In my talk, I also emphasised the dangers of living in the Sacrifice Syndrome. A place where teachers and school leaders “sacrifice too much for too long – and reap too little.”  Personal Sacrifice and the diminishment of one’s own needs becomes the norm. Leaving individuals feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted, and deriving less satisfaction from their lives.


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Click here to download the rest of the slides from my talk “Taking Care of the Soul in the Role”

I put it to those who attended that the only way to break the cycle of the Sacrifice Syndrome, is through regular relationships that invite a deep engagement with one’s own soul.  Relationships that invite engagement in affirming & life-giving conversations, that regularly allow time and the opportunity for genuine renewal. When this becomes a deliberate practice we are able to sustain ourselves for the long-haul and remain connected with what really matters as an educator. Above all, I stressed the need for teachers and school leaders to feel:

–          Celebrated

–          Affirmed

–          Encouraged

–          Supported

What struck me was that at this event, everyone appeared to feel this way. This event really was about all that is good and noble in the profession. It provided the opportunity for these affirming conversations and time for reflection so necessary for genuine renewal. On top of this, it was a great chance to make connections, build new relationships, offer hope to one another and most importantly for all present, to realise that there is nothing to be lost, but everything to be gained in putting oneself first.

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Click here to download the rest of the slides from my talk “Taking Care of the Soul in the Role”

As individuals shared stories, examples of best practice, personal and professional techniques for improvement both on a personal and a professional level, I saw colleagues around me realise that by putting their needs first, they could let go of feeling

–          Guilty

–          Overwhelmed

–          Isolated

–          Confused

–          Disillusioned

And instead discover that by asking themselves “What do I need from myself and others to be by best?” and by taking proactive steps they could instead feel:

–          Re-energised

–          Inspired

–          Hopeful

–          Connected [to themselves and others – so important!]

–          Valued

In short, they had rediscovered their ‘deepest gladness’ and hence were better prepared to meet the ‘deepest needs’ of their students/colleagues at the start of the new school week.

Finally, #PedagooHampshire16 for me was made even more exciting and wonderful because it marked the beginning of a journey for me and Integrity Coaching. Namely, my session marked the start of a month of exploration into the “Bigger Picture” of what it means to be an educator, seeking to understand what our deepest needs are as human beings and ultimately, how  we can bring who we truly are into our roles as educators and leaders.

The journey will consist of several blogs around the experiences of educators, the issues facing school leaders and teachers, and eventually this adventure of thought will culminate on Tuesday 4th October from 8:00-8:30 PM when we will be hosting our first ever webinar on “Meeting the Deeper Needs of Teachers and School Leaders”.

In this webinar, we will look to discuss the ways in which schools can support human growth and development, whilst also support educators in maintaining their ‘vocational vitality’ amidst feelings of overwhelm, anxiety and stress.

We hope you can join us for this.

If you would like to find out more about the webinar, please click here

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Taking Care of the Soul in the Role – #PedagooHampshire16
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I was delighted to be offered a chance to speak this coming Saturday 17th September at Pedagoo Hampshire 16 in Alton. This event, which features a day of interactive seminars hosted by individuals across the educational landscape, aims to discuss and tackle key issues in education and create a forum for speakers to share their rich experience and expertise. If you have been lucky enough to get a ticket and you are thinking of coming along to my session on Saturday, there’s one key question on which I’d like you to ponder, as this one question will form the core of my session.

And that question is…

“What do you believe is the most precious thing that you bring to your role as an educator?”

We’ll be exploring this question, because for the last eight years, working as an Executive Coach, I have spent easily over 100 hours listening to the inner most thoughts and questions of Head teachers and senior school leaders, and when individuals find their own answer to this question, things begin to change.

I also have another question for you, … What do you know of the journey you are on?

From ‘walking alongside’ individuals on their leadership journeys, I have come to the conclusion that school leadership is a journey of deep growth and personal transformation. However, because of the systems over-emphasis on results and league tables many individuals are devoid of a language or a space to describe the inner dissonance that often accompanies this walk into the unknown.

It is not until they have been afforded this space, that they begin to see the role of school leadership anew and in so doing make the vital connection between being alive to what Parker J Palmer [American author and social activist] calls the ‘Soul in the Role’ or the ‘being’ in Human-being’

Having been in the profession now for over twenty-eight years, I fully get why this is so; why it feels so alien for us to engage in conversations that take us inside of ourselves. I believe it is because too often we are asked questions that demand that we justify, explain, give account for;

– Good results

– Bad results

– Good performances

– Bad performances

Persist in asking me questions that seek justification for external outcomes and I become a stranger to my inner world, upon which these external outcomes depend. I will seek to defend, ‘who I am’ and what I bring to my role. On the other hand, ask me questions that invite me to explore the ‘how and why’ of what I do and then you invite the best in me to come forth. You invite my soul to come out from behind its defences and engage in more live giving and affirming conversations about what matters most.

My session on Saturday will be just that, an invitation to begin taking part in a journey with us on the subject ‘Taking Care of the Soul in the role’.

The journey begins with Saturday’s interactive workshop and continues throughout September with a series of related blogs on bringing who we truly are into our roles as educators and leaders. The journey’s end will be on Tuesday 4th October from 8:00-8:30 PM when we will be hosting our webinar on Staying in Love With School Leadership.

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If you would like to receive our register for this webinar, please click here.

Reciprocal Teaching
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Recently two colleagues taught me all about Reciprocal Teaching as a way of encouraging literacy in the classroom.

Each member of a group is given a different role, Predictor, Clarifier, Summariser or Questioner. All group members are given a piece of text to read, with each of them looking at a different role within this, it means that when they go to discuss the piece of text, they all have different ideas and perspectives to bring to it and it structures the activity much better.

Not only does this encourage literacy, it also encourages group work and makes each member accountable.

I have created some worksheets that will aid each member with their role and tasks to structure their reading.

You can download them here. Free Printables- Reciprocal Reading

Reciprocal Teaching

Read More Here: http://www.readingrockets.org/strategies/reciprocal_teaching

[Posted originally on Learning RMPS.]

Bringing Children’s Rights into the Classroom [Scotland only]
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Are you looking for a way to incorporate Getting it Right for Every Child into your classroom?

Child Rights Launchpad by Unicef UK aims to help you do this. Launchpad is a ready-to-use, Scotland specific resource that promotes learning about rights and supports the Curriculum for Excellence. It covers all 42 articles of the UNCRC directly relating to children and, best of all, this award-winning resource is completely FREE to use!

Don’t just take our word for how good it is, the resource is currently being used by teachers all over Scotland and they’ve been quick to praise Launchpad:

“We have introduced all our S1 pupils to Launchpad and it has definitely increased the pupils’ knowledge of Child Rights.  One great aspect of the resource is its focus on personalisation and choice.  I have also found it a helpful reference as a teacher and have used it to look up information on specific rights which I have then used in my lessons.”

Mrs. Hoyle, Teacher at Douglas Academy, East Dumbarton

See what other teachers (and children) had to say about Launchpad in this short video:

 

What to expect?

Launchpad is designed at three different levels, broadly aimed at the following age bands:

  • Level 1: three to seven-year-olds;
  • Level 2: eight to 12-year-olds; and
  • Level 3: 13 to 18-year-olds.

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Example of the site’s content.

At each level the ‘missions’ follow the same format. The exploration begins with an introduction to the right, before considering it in a Scottish context. The focus then switches to an international setting, exploring how the right is enjoyed in one or more countries around the world, followed by a related activity. Finally, the ‘mission’ is finished with an interactive quiz and a star for the ‘Super You’ character. After six missions each child or young person receives a certificate.

Detailed Guidance for Adults is available on the website- this will provide you with all the information you need about the resource. It’ll also help you to plan how you use Launchpad in your lessons.

Creating your free account is incredibly easy, simply follow this link, We’re confident that you’ll be glad you did – just remember to encourage your colleagues to create their accounts too!

 

Sport Education Model
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I got the idea to try out the Sport Education from my departmental PT as he wanted to see how it worked, so I thought why not a give it a go? What can go wrong? I can can only learn more and take it forwards!!

What is Sport Education, and why use it?

Sport Education has shown to provide the possibility for better learning and social experiences for all learners through a learner-centred approach of teaching. Sport Education was produced to provide learners with an inclusive, encouraging and entertaining experience within sport. This is created because Sport Education allows teachers to assist and guide students to construct their own learning experience, rather than simply telling students what to do. Furthermore it helps to develop students into experienced, knowledgeable and keen sports people.

The development of responsibilities directly links into the health and wellbeing experience and outcomes, HWB 3-11a, HWB 3-19a, HWB 3-23a regarding social and physical wellbeing. These experiences and outcomes within the Curriculum for Excellence progress and expand student’s capability to undertake diverse roles and responsibilities within sport rather than simply performing. For example coaching, or refereeing. Also considering the significant aspects for learning there are numerous personal qualities that Sport Education targets such as confidence, responsibilities, leadership and communication.

It is suggested that Sport Education is producing situations in which the students benefit from continuing reflective development. Consequently inspiring students to contemplate their own learning and the learning happening around them. Sport Education contains a lot of self-management encouraging students to problem solve and make decisions for themselves. Most of the students responded well to this pedagogical model settling well into the sessions, with the team leader taking charge of the group also resolving issues. However in one particular group the students were not responding to the team leader and causing a problem which is where I had to step in to resolve the issue myself. In this situation I could have changed the groups around to split up the students causing issues. If I had spent more time with the students beforehand I would have had a better relationship and known who would work well together.

What did I do?

I chose to implement the Sport Education model to my S1 mixed gender, mixed ability badminton class. This group have many different behavioural and classroom management issues which can become a hindrance sometimes. However I still thought that these students could learn a variety of life skills and sport knowledge from this teaching pedagogy.

When planning I decided each team would be chosen by the class themselves; selecting their own team name and team captain. The team captain is overall in charge of the whole team and is responsible for making sure all team members carry out their responsibilities and stay on task. Other responsibilities within the team are coaches, reporter, referee, equipment manager, and score keeper. This gave the students the opportunity to be involved whether they are physically capable or not. I created badminton pack’s for each group which were labelled with the team name and included; – to do sheet, register, task cards, observation sheet, score cards, twitter sheets, reporter book, board pen and eraser. This allowed the students to pick up the pack, watch the demonstration and then have everything that they need to complete the lesson effectively.  Consequently allowing students to be more independent and self-manage their own learning.

 

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My badminton pack for the students

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The roles and responsibilities for each group

Within the lesson I had planned and built in routines which were the same every week so that the students were completely aware of what was expected of them. Students were to organise themselves when they come into the games hall with the courts, registers and sit ready for the demonstrations. Each week there was a different focus for the students; week 1 – serve, week 2 – overhead clear, week 3 – drop shot, week 4 – net shot, week 5 – underarm lift. Each of these different badminton shots follow on from one another in order to build up a sequence as the student’s progress. This allowed students to gain more than just a bank of badminton shots and when to effectively use them. Students would gain a more in-depth knowledge of all aspects of the sport.

Students had to sit around a badminton court were I would run through all of the tasks that are within their badminton pack for the lesson. When completing the demonstrations I would give students the key teaching points, and observations to look for of the shot. The students were to look at their observation cards during the demonstration to make sure they understood the task. I planned to add in demonstrations to ensure students gained some content knowledge from me and the observation cards as a reference point for help.

Most of the roles are self explanatory and you do as it says on the tin! If you are a coach you use the observation cards and tell someone where they need to improve their technique. If you’re a scorekeeper you keep the score.If you’re a referee you have to make sure that everyone is aware of the rules and adhering to them. If you’re the equipment manager you have to ensure that your group has the court set up correctly and the right equipment needed for the lesson. However the reporter is more complicated. Reporters were to comment on the different elements of the lesson such as; – learning, enjoyment, sportsmanship. Reporters commented upon something they felt necessary and important throughout the lesson for example:- sportsmanship, ability, leadership, behaviour. However they must include the significant aspects of learning. This was getting them to start considering skills they were achieving. Furthermore students are linking learning with the significant aspects of learning, making individuals more familiar with the correct terminology. Subsequently including literacy within each lesson which is a responsibility for all teachers to consider within every lesson within the Scotland educational system.

image1 (2)  An example of the coaching observation card that I used

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The front of the reporters sheet and example of an answer given by students

image2The back of the reporters sheet to remind them of the SALs 

What I hoped pupils would learn from this experience?

I hoped that through Sport Education that the students would gain a greater understanding of badminton. Rather than just the skills and some rules, by the end they would understand how to coach, referee, report, organise their own activities and keep the score. This helps students to gain more experiences within badminton and help others to learn with them along the way.

Students are also expected to take responsibility for their own learning. This helps students to be more independent and confident in their own ability; giving students a sense of belonging within the classroom (Hastie, 2012). Consequently Sport Education includes co-operative learning within PE which enhances physical performance and cognitive understanding supporting students, therefore increasing their motivation and self-esteem (Metzler, 2011).

Sport Education places students are at the heart of the learning process within small groups (Slavin, 2014). Students’ working co-operatively gives individuals the opportunity to work together effectively and energetically in small groups to enhance their own learning and others (Darnis and Lafont, 2015). Alexander et al (2014) approves and expands to propose that this style of learning assists both student’s accomplishments and social wellbeing. It also helps to facilitate learners to integrate their own knowledge and apply this within other situations. Subsequently allowing them to find as area that they excel in and creating a sense of success (Perlman, 2014). For example students who are good and confident at the serve can go and assist another member of the team to improve.

 

Evaluation of how successful the learning was in the series of lessons

Positives of the Sport Education model

There are many positives and advantages to implementing the Sport Education model with a secondary PE setting.  Overall many of the students responded and engaged well with this style of teaching and learning.

Sport Education gives students more responsibility to take ownership of their own learning. It proves to be very effective to hand the responsibility over so that students are responsible for organisation and helping one another. It gives students the opportunity to learn from one another, which is building upon student’s social wellbeing. Sport Education provides a social environment that examines relationship between students, overall assisting with student’s social wellbeing. Subsequently individuals within the class who have previously been disregarded have now become affiliated with peers in higher social groups. This is apparent when you look at the grouping registers and know the personalities of the students.

Sport Education provides structure to the lesson ensuring that students are always aware of where they should be and what is expected of them. Consequently this makes the lessons run smoother and quicker as it is the same structure and arrangement each week, which means they should be completely aware of what is happening. Within this structure the team leader is responsible for their own team ensuring that everyone is correctly and effectively fulfilling their role within the group. Students were to record which individual is carrying out what role so that everyone is clear and knows exactly what they are responsible for. It was evident from the lessons as the students always knew what I was expecting of them and if they were unsure I had the instructions written out in their team packs.

Giving each student a different responsibility offers each student to be appropriately challenged so everyone is always learning. For example if the students are physically capable and can perform an overhead clear they should be transferring their knowledge as a coach to help other students. Responsibilities can help to motivate students and provide individuals with numerous diverse opportunities to experience success within an inclusive environment focused upon team work and contribution. However some students can then hide behind their responsibility or referee or coach and not physically participate within the lesson. Therefore as previously mentioned I ensured they rotated roles each week.

 

Challenges of the Sport Education model

Sometimes the pace of the lesson can be compromised at the start of the block as the students have to take time to get acquainted with the system.  Students were in S1 and the principle teacher wanted the Sport Education model to be implemented from first year and then followed through each year. However this model was implemented in badminton which is a sport that most students had not played in primary school therefore they have no prior knowledge. This made is difficult to complete some of the tasks and effectively peer assess one another as they didn’t have the correct depth of knowledge to coach one another. Students must teach one another the different badminton shots but will find it difficult as they do not have the background knowledge to support this. Consequently I created reciprocal cards and observation sheets for the students to follow so the teaching points where available.

Bad behaviour can present challenging situations when implementing the Sport Education model. For example it is difficult to give students the responsibility to organise themselves if they are distracting one another and misbehaving. Student centred teaching and learning requires a certain amount of trust between pupils and the teacher, if this trust is broken and students misbehave learning does not occur.

Finally the Sport Education resources take a lot of time to prepare and get everything in order for the lesson to run smoothly. I had to prepare individual observation sheets for each shot, registers for each group, task cards for each individual activity and shot, score sheets, and twitter sheets. However once the resources are created they are completed and only need slightly altering in the future.

 

Hope this has been useful and let me know if anyone wants a copy of the resources!!

 

Thanks

ICT and Languages Conference 2016 #ililc6
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It was not without a little trepidation that I headed to Dorking from Glasgow for my first #ililc event hosted by @joedale and @helenmyers at Ashcombe School Language College, sponsored by Sanako making it a free event for the first time, hence why I made the effort. Would my two tablets and smartphone connect, download the necessary apps and not show me up as still being at entry-level with regard to the wonders of the tablet-world? Would everyone be appsmashing over coffee as I remembered I’d forgotten to charge my gadgets? But no, I needn’t have worried, MFL teachers really are the best. Being a subject with communication and openness at its heart, MFL teachers are a chatty lot and so happy to share experiences.

Knowing Joe Dale’s inimitable style, we were all poised to keep up with his full-on whistle-stop tour of apps and websites as he set up a todaysmeet for us to post live comments on, as well as opening up a ‘top tech takeaway padlet, with Chrome ‘talk and comment’, ultratext and Speakpipe add-ons.I could have gone home happy after that first half-hour but there were four sessions with three presentations to choose from in each so, focussing on cross-platform sessions as we are not an ipad school, off I headed to Session 1 ‘Apps r us’ with Amanda Salt.

I would love to be in one of Amanda’s classes, her enthusiasm is infectious and the range of apps and websites she uses brings learning alive in so many ways. Far too many to list but a couple of key ideas I’ve taken away and have already used are

  • quizletlive which has engaged bottom set S3s (Y9), tested Higher Spanish (Y11) on the preterite describing a past holiday, and focused Higher French on the passé composé, (quizizz  and quizalize are similar)
  • creating a Department ‘brand’ to tag everything you create and share/upload

Some of the apps were ipad-only but looked great. I’m also the process of creating a loooooong list of website to request be unblocked by the authority firewall, sigh.

Session 2 was with Serena Dawson creating a storybook on the lines of a russian doll with layers, inserting audio Speakpipe again and sharing student work on Googledrive. I also loved the simplicity but attractiveness of pic collage  but have yet to access it in school. Serena gave the first mention to qr codes and how she sticks them in jotters for parents to access their children’s recordings.

Teaching in a school on the south coast in a community hosting a large number of refugee families, she also spoke with passion about inclusive education and making the MFL curriculum more relevant to current events by using websites such as 1jour1actu, which I do use with my Higher classes. The site has great cartoon video clips explaining all manner of questions sent in by French children. As I write this, today’s question/clip is ‘Why do we do tests at school?‘.

Session 3 was hosted by one of Ashcombe’s teachers, Anna Sichla, with different uses for apps/websites previously mentioned, in additions to  Zondle to make games, Kahoot  for more quizzes, using Vocaroo to generate a url to in turn generate a QR code. Anna is a big fan of youtubing and explained how to use Powtoon , although I think that’s one step too far for me just now. I’d love to use Chatterkid app but sadly it’s ipad only.

With my mind whirling I headed to Session 4 with Aurélie Charles on using Google apps for education. Very much a hands-on session with a helpful interactive ticklist of tasks to work through as she explained different aspects, allowing us to work at our own pace.

Short walk to the hotel and feet up for half an hour before heading back for the evening’s pizza and ‘show and tell’. Us MFL teachers are totally committed to our job! Amongst other presentations,

  • Charlie showcased the website for a school exchange he’s launching on Monday (before heading off to run the London Marathon!)
  • Alison described a very effective transition day, themed around arriving at an airport then taking a plane, with departments across the school contributing a linked activity. It sounded wonderful!
  • Jonathan described how his school has signed up to Global Learning through Global Dimension . Also how, post Y9 options, he keeps  pupils engaged by them making primary MFL language games.
  • Rachel shared ideas for making learning relevant by describing a module on ‘a new school for the Jungle’, the migrant camp in Calais.
  • Joe couldn’t resist playing with msqrd , another video/audio tool to take the focus of speaking for pupils, but serving an educational purpose.
  • David explained how he has built up a popular Duolingo club, celebrating the success of pupils at assemblies.
  • Maxime, and NQT, shared images of a practical homework he set which surprised him by how engaged pupils became, the task being to cook a French dish and photograph/record it.  Some of the pupils had gone to great lengths to produce the food and images.

At 9pm I headed back to my hotel, shattered, but of course I had to start trying out some of my new ideas…

Sunday morning’s first session was with Annalise Adam on QR codes. Inspiring isn’t the word! She showed very clearly how to use QR code generators such as Kaywa or qr-code-generator to link to websites. She gave a practical demonstration of how she created a simple listening exercise by recording German weather phrases on Vocaroo , generating QR codes and posting them around the room for us to scan, identify the weather and note down. Pupils could then use Padlet  to post key phrases as a plenary. So simple but so effective and engaging! Annalise also uses QR codes to bring worksheets to life.

Putting learning into practice.

  • The #ililc6 weekend totally re-energised me. I emailed my Headteacher before I got on the plane home, evangelising the wonders of ICT (when the internet isn’t buffering, the sun isn’t shining on my interactive whiteboard and the websites aren’t blocked) and offering to run a school Teachmeet.
  • Once I got home, I created a departmental poster of QR codes linking to activity websites such as Linguascope, reference sites we use such as Word Reference  and exam support via SQA . Copied, laminated and distrubuted Monday at coffee!
  • This week’s DM was dedicated to a handful of ideas and I intend for us to focus on one idea per month so staff don’t feel overwhelmed but they’re used to me getting carried away with ideas. Some staff have already tried out some of the new ideas and love them, as do their pupils.
  • Having been inspired Serena and Annalise, I created a powerpoint for my Higher French class on the death of Prince and also of David Bowie earlier this year, using QR codes to link to French tv news reports and a 1jour1actu cartoon clip on Bowie. P2 Monday morning was maybe a bit early for my poor Highers to appreciate my even more energetic enthusiasm for my new ‘toys’, but they too used to be getting over-excited now and then.
  • Quizlet live has been a big success and colleagues are similarly enthused.
  • We subscribe to textivate  and when I created an activity this week, I remembered to give it the dept tag ‘invacad’ so it’s easy to find again.

I really can’t emphasise how much I appreciated this weekend, it has easily been the best cpd-event I’ve ever attended and has had an immediate impact on my teaching practice and a knock-on effect on my colleagues. I’m fairly new to Twitter and have been using our Department account @invacadmfl to share the #ililc6 love. Thank you @JoeDale!

 

The Thinking Classroom. Don’t Call it Challenge!
April 20, 2016
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“Is History hard sir?” Year 8 student asking about options

“Only if you aren’t good at it” replies the teacher

Challenge and high expectations. That’s what you would expect to see in an evaluation of a lesson which was highly effective. They are words which indicate that students were “stretched” and that their learning was maximised. This is all very positive, but what does challenge actually mean? It could mean lots of things to lots of people, which is why I dislike the phrase when thinking about developing teaching. For example; In a one hour History lesson if students have to sift through twenty sources to find out information is this challenging? Possibly, possibly not. It’s “only” selection of materials and some students may find this easy. If however, on closer inspection students really had to think about the selection of information then in actual fact they are thinking like Historians and this could be highly “challenging.” It is not the task that is challenging it is the thought that goes into it. Watch a professional sportsman run through drills, it may seem “low level challenge” but they are thinking about every movement.

What a lack of challenge in a lesson really means is students didn’t think enough. They didn’t think about the problems in front of them, they didn’t “self –regulate” they didn’t think “Meta-cognitively”  they weren’t given enough to think and struggle and then succeed. In short they didn’t have to think.  In terms of effect size the two biggest things teachers can do to have the biggest impact on student achievement is to give effective feedback, and make students think “meta-cognitively” (think about their thinking).  In other words create a “Thinking Classroom”

Seems a bit odd to suggest that a classroom has be a “Thinking Classroom” surely that’s what happens in a classroom? Well yes, mainly. But, learning is messy, unpredictable and as Graham Nuthall suggests in his book, often “hidden” ( The hidden lives of learners will change the way you think about classrooms)  In order to be a great teacher you have to light up the classroom, because you can’t see learning easily.

Students “hide”; after because they can, and it helps them cope. With 25-30 student in a class, mountains of content to “cover” and the 1 hour lessons, revolving door, factory system we have, it is little wonder that in this controlled chaos students can tactically hide. They hide in a number of obvious ways, they don’t put their hands up, or they give short answers, often knowing that the teacher will “move on”. They do “just enough” so that when the teacher looks at their books they nod, moving onto those who for many reasons haven’t written anything down, or who are distracting others. This is not always deliberate, cunning – work shirking, rather a mechanism to cope with 5 lessons a day. If you have ever shadowed a pupil for the day, and tried to do their work you’ll understand how confusing and tiring a day can be when you are 13.  Thinking is hard, it takes deliberate effort and often support. Ever wondered why students like writing in the title and date? It gives them a rest-bite form “thinking”.  Our brains are great at conserving thinking energy. Consider why the staff car park looks exactly the same every day; people park in the same spot because they then don’t have to think when they finally traipse out at 6.30pm.  Students are the same.

So how do we stop this? How do we “light up” the hidden lives of learners and create thinking? Lighting up the classroom is an area that has vastly improved since the articulation of “formative assessment” by Black and Wiliam back in 2001. Assessment for learning as a buzz word  almost doesn’t exist anymore as it is so entrenched into teaching practices.   A better phrase would be “responsive teaching”. Trying something with students, measuring it there and then, evaluating if it has been effective (students get it or not) then adapting the teaching.  There are a huge host of ways to do this that most teachers are aware of these use them regularly. As effect sizes go, effective feedback is about the best thing you can do to improve achievement. Please note “EFFECTIVE” feedback. If you feedback too soon, or it is too shallow the feedback can actually have a negative effect. However, teachers are generally good at AFL. They use Traffic Lights, thumbs up/ down, no hands , post-it notes which all help during the lesson.  Peer Assessment, Self Assessment, Criteria in student speak, personalised learning check lists, exemplar answers, the list goes on and on and on.  Not to mention; diagnostic marking, quizzes, mock exams (mocks after mocks, after mocks) doddle and online testing,  grades reported every six weeks. Students are monitored more than they ever have been before. This is a good thing. Mostly.

“Mostly” because challenge and thinking do not automatically come about because a teacher can “light up the classroom”. There is absolutely no point in a teacher demonstrating a host of AFL strategies which clearly show that students have moved from A to B, when they could have moved from A to E. Often you will hear OFSTED inspectors and observers to a classroom use the phrase “Expectations”. Expectations were too low of both students and teachers, or that the teacher had high expectations. This is a non- sensical phrase in many respects. I had great expectations of my guitar playing at 13, doesn’t mean I’m a rock star driving 15 cars. Expectations have to be high of course, but what really has to be high is the level of “Thinking” in a classroom. Teachers have to create thinking in their classrooms. Not challenge, that can mean lots of things to lots of people; they have to create thinking.

Creating the “Thinking Classroom”

This is a challenge (no pun intended) because “thinking “ is almost impossible to see. Performance is easy to see: Students are set them this, they did (or did not) do it. Thinking though? Other than the obvious signs of head scratching it’s difficult to see. But there are some things teachers can do to allow students to “think” :

It starts with the planning – make things harder not easier

Do not mean simplify. Do NOT simplify. It is worth saying twice because as teachers we are brilliant at it; we often have to because we are “breaking down” complex things for students to learn. BUT this habit can betray and our students.

Consider this; A Geography teacher is planning a series of lessons on the Amazon Rainforest to a year 7 class. Logically they want to break this down into manageable “chunks” for students. So it goes something like this:

  • What lives in the Rainforest?
  • Why is it so wet?
  • What is the temperature of the Rainforest?
  • Where is the Amazon Rainforest ?
  • What is it like there?/ Why is it called a Rainforest?
  • Why is it so hot?
  • What grows in the Rainforest?
  • Why must we conserve the Rainforest?

Once these questions are thought through is it logical that lessons are as follows

Scenario 1:

Lesson 1 Q1-2

lesson 2 Q3 – 5

lesson 3 and 4 Q6- 7

lesson 5 and 6 – Q8

They are very logical lessons, they follow on from each other, with the effective teaching at the end of the 6 lessons students would have gained new knowledge of the Amazon Rainforest without a doubt. How much thinking would have occurred though? Well perhaps lots, but how else could this series of lesson potentially create more thinking?

How about this:

Scenario 2:

Lesson 1 to 4 – What is the climate of the Amazon Rainforest?  Why is the climate like this and how does it affect what grows and what lives there?

Lesson 5 and 6 – “There is no need to conserve the Amazon Rainforest, we can cut more trees down for farming, homes and resources” How far do agree with this statement?

As you can see lessons 1 – 4 now create more thinking. Students have to consider what “climate” is, and the relationship this has to what grows and lives in the Rainforest. They are forced at the start of the series of  lessons to think about the relationship between location, climate and environment.  The last two lessons of scenario 2 force students into arguing and evaluating.  Scenario 1 and 2 could have exactly the same resources, exactly the same teacher, and exactly the same “challenge” in the resource but in all probability there will be more thinking created in scenario 2

Of course it all depends on how these lessons are managed. If for example students are just given the two questions in scenario 2 and the resources, without the teacher effectively explaining and questioning there is a real danger that this “independence” just results in confusion.   The “independent” classroom should not be confused with the “Thinking classroom”. Independence does not of itself create thinking, in fact the opposite can happen.

What these two scenarios do illustrate though is that planning a series of lessons with “Thinking” in mind is crucial. As teachers we are naturally very good at breaking up very complicated things into smaller parts so that people can understand. It is our default setting, because we do it all the time; we have to, we are teachers. But what we really want to do is to create learners.  To do this we have to sometimes stop breaking things up, not so they are more difficult or more “challenging” but so they create more thinking.

Scenario 2 could and I stress could create more thinking than scenario 1. But equally it could descend into chaos (as could any lesson) because the teacher does not consider that when you make students “think” you have to make them think! This takes time.

Below are five “tips” for scenario 2:

  • Be sure students understand the key words (climate, affect)
  • Give them TIME, time to investigate, to get stuck.
  • Discuss/engage students with the questions – Get them to work out what is being asked? What information will they need to have in order to answer these questions and how might they go about this?
  • Because there may be more chance of getting stuck than in scenario 1 have a mechanism for students to ask questions – a question wall, post it notes , traffic lights
  • Create a culture of three before me? Book, Buddy, Board. So students have to look at the board, ask a friend, refer to the book before asking for help.

Creating a thinking classroom is hard. It is much more than what is in this blog. It is about creating a culture of thinking through high quality questions and series of lessons. It is about giving students the opportunity to stop, wait and struggle.

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Interpersonal Small Group Mediation
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The purpose of this guide is to support teachers/tutors in resolving conflicts within Learning Sets through Interpersonal Small Group Mediation strategies. 

As I have expressed in a number of articles on my site collaborativegrouplearning.com, Learning Sets are dynamic group structures designed to engineer and facilitate both effective socialised-learning and social relationships. The three principles of:

1: 6 in number;

2: Heterogeneous in character (diversely mixed);  

3: Sustained overtime;

have the potential to either enable high functioning learning and social relationships or low functioning learning and social relationships. To enable the desired outcome of the Learning Set relationships must be nurtured by all 7 members of the Learning Set; the 6 students and the 1 tutor

As with any group, problems and issues concerning relationships can emerge and if unresolved can evolve into corrosively negative group relations. The key therefore is to enable the successful resolution of substantive, communication and relational problems as they emerge. Vigilance, swift action and mediation on the part of the tutor can enable the group to locate the causes, course and consequences of the problem or issue and with this foster healthier Learning Set relationship.  

A Learning Set’s success is in direct correlation with the strength of the Learning Set’s relationship.

The long term goal is to enable students to better negotiate their own solutions to substantive, communication and relational problems. Students need to recognise that the relationship of the group is the responsibility of every member. Through modelling and interventions such as Learning Set Mediation, students can come to be ever more self-regulating, aware of how to negotiate their way through the complexities of learning and social relationships. Within this process the Learning Set’s tutor plays a key role.

Learning Set Mediation involves:

  • Voluntary participation (all members of the Learning Set agree to it
  • Face-to-face discussions between the parties in conflict facilitated through the tutor as mediator
  • An unbiased mediator who helps those involved to understand each other’s point of view and come to an agreement
  • Equal opportunities for all participants to speak and explain their perspective
  • All relevant information being shared openly by all participants 
  • A shared agreement between the parties
  • Revisiting the agreement to ensure application and resolution  

The Role of the Learning Set Mediator:

As mediator the teacher of tutor’s role is to enable the process of mediation to be undertaken.

The key to effective mediation is the tutors fulfillment of organisational and communication duties. Good communication during the act of mediation is crucial. Good communication involves the mediator putting aside their own views and feelings in order to help the parties listen to and understand each other. To these ends the tutor must place themselves physically within the group acting as a conduit of communication for mediation (discussion-resolution). 

A mediator needs a range of skills, including:

  • Active listening skills;
  • Questioning and clarifying skills (reflective listening, normalizing, reframing) to grasp both the facts and the areas of controversy;
  • Emotional intelligence to understand the underlying emotions;
  • Summarising skills to set out the main points of controversy, and underlying emotions, and also to help the participants to reframe issues in less emotive language; and 
  • Empathy to help each party to stand in each other’s shoes and understand each other’s point of view.

As a mediator the tutor must not take sides, or be seen to be acting unfairly. Acknowledge points made by all parties, and spend equal time with each person or on their issues, enabling them to speak and actively listening. 

The task is complex but is essentially all about being fair, listening to all and enabling all to speak. It is about not reaching a personal judgement but helping the group find an agreement enabling them all to move forward. Enabling, through questioning, to get to the root cause of the problem or issue by helping the group to:

  1. track back from consequences (the present situation);
  2. through the course (he said-she said);
  3. to the cause (where did it begin and why?).

Mediation can be time consuming and will require a number of daily-weekly-monthly sessions, all depending on the nature and complexity of the problem or issue. 

The time spent however can reap rewards for all involved in the long run and for the tutor cement their role as an informed and important member of the Learning Set.

The Mediation Process:

1: Preparation

  • Select a place to conduct the mediation. This should be a neutral and private space, free of interruptions, where the group can sit together in a circle with the mediator sat as part of this circle.
  • Each session should last not more than 20 minutes.
  • When sat in the circle members should be distraction free; nothing in their hands to fiddle with.  
  • Once in the space and sat the mediator needs to introduce themselves, set out the mediator’s role (to be impartial and help to communicate and reach their solution) and lay out the ‘ground rules’ for the mediation process. These should include the basic rules of communication (once voice at a time, eye contact with the speaker, no interruptions, use of a person’s name when referring to them) and confidentiality. 

2: Reconstructing and Understanding the Conflict

Through questioning, active listening, revoicing and management of the group:

  • Enable each member in turn to identify the present situation (the consequence, problem and/or issue)
  • Enable each member in turn to identify their feelings and emotions concerning the present situation (repeat these emotions back to enable all to recognise them)
  • Enable each member in turn to identify how the present situation has come to be (the course of actions towards the present problem and/or issue)
  • Enable each member in turn to identify what they believe the starting point or cause is of the present situation (the cause of the problem and/or issue)

3: Defining Points of Agreement and Dispute

During this stage, the tutor’s role is to help all to move towards a position where they start to understand each other’s point of view, and can then begin to resolve the shared problem.

  • Enable the group to move from a focus on the past to one on the future. 
  • Enable the group to see areas of agreement, commonality and shared feelings.

4: Creating Options for Resolution

  • Enable the group to develop options for resolution.
  • Help the group select the most likely to succeed option (relevant, achievable, suits all parties). 
  • When relevant offer tools to aid the successful application of the preferred option (Communication Cards, Learning Set Role Cards, Learning Set Report)
  • When relevant help the group to develop evaluation criteria, which should ideally be objective and in order of importance, for the successful application of the agreed option.

5: Moving Forward 

  • Enable the group to agree to the proposed resolution.
  • When relevant set the group or individuals SMART targets to enable the successful application of the resolution. 
  • Agree a follow up meeting to discuss how things are moving forward. 

A Potential Mediation Script:

1: Preparation

“Thank you for making the time to be here today  and thank you for joining the circle.”

“This is not about blaming anyone but a chance for us all to understand what the situation is, what has happened and how it is effecting you all.” 

“My role in this process is to be impartial, listening to what you all say and helping you all through effective communication reach a solution to the present situation so that we can all move forward.”

“Before we begin there are some ground rules to cover. For this to work well we must apply the basic rules of communication which are once voice at a time, eye contact with the speaker, no interruptions and the use of a person’s name when referring to them. Everyone will have many chances to speak and I would like to remind you all that everything you say here today is confidential. However if you say something that makes me really concerned about your safety and wellbeing I will have to report it to…”

2: Reconstructing and Understanding the Conflict

“Let’s take it in turn to share our thoughts and feelings about the situation. (name) will start first and we will move around the group in a clockwise direction listening to what everyone has to say”. 

“….what is the problem/issue/situation as you see it?” “How does this affect you?”

“….what has been happening to get to this point, can you think of any situations or examples of things that have happened?” “What has been your involvement?”

“I think I understand what you are saying, is it right to say that…”

“What started all this off?”

“What do you feel has caused this situation/to get out of control?”

3: Defining Points of Agreement and Dispute

“The past is just that, what can we do together to move forward? …what do you feel we could do?”

“I hear what you are saying, what do you…feel?”

“What I noticed when you were talking this through is that you agreed about…”

“Can we use what you agree about as starting point for a possible solution?”

4: Creating Options for Resolution

“Do you believe…that this is an effective resolution? How would you make it better? Who agrees/disagrees? What’s your opinion…?”

“I agree/disagree that the option you are suggesting will be the most effective at resolving the situation because…What are your thoughts…?” 

“What resources could I offer you to help you all move forward? Perhaps….would be of use.”

“I think that those evaluation criteria will work really well because…”

“I feel that some of those evaluation criteria could be enhanced a little, for example…”

5: Moving Forward 

“Do we all agree to the proposed resolution? Why do you…agree to the resolution? Why do you…disagree to the resolution?” 

“What would be the best SMART targets that you feel you could all follow to ensure that…”

“We will meet again…in order to see how things are moving forward, is this ok with everybody?” 

Developed with help from:

http://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/mediation-skills.html#ixzz427eU7BsP (accessed 06/03/16)

Thorsborne. M., & Vinegrad. D. ( 2011) Restorative Justice Pocketbook, Teachers Pocketboks. Hampshire.

Ongoing research into situated group dynamics.

#100wordTandL Musiccam
February 24, 2016
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This is a music specific post but can be adapted for your own context.
Pupil and lesson observation feedback this term have highlighted the use of a simple webcam as a useful tool to aid learning.
As a music teacher I find it very quick and easy to use the webcam over the piano to demonstrate the task, hand position, chords and also easy mistakes to avoid. This is projected onto the screen for students to see, both at desks and at keyboards. It helps with visual prompts, focus and engagement and also a demonstration by the teacher modelling good and bad examples can really help students make progress.
It is always followed up by individual verbal feedback and personalised demonstrations when needed but as a tool, a simple webcam has really helped progress and confidence in my music classroom.

@mrsjacksonmusic
(140 words whoops!)

Using iMovie Trailers Across the Curriculum (#PedagooPerth Conversation)
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I first became aware of the idea of making book trailers about 3 years ago when the Scottish Book Trust launched a book trailer competition to coincide with the Scottish Book Trust Awards.  At that time I had a number of boys in P7 who were at that difficult stage of trying to find new books that were ‘cool’ enough to really get into.  The Scottish Book Trust Awards take place every year and are a great way of discovering new authors and due to the voting timescale it gives the pupils a clear deadline to work towards.  Essentially book trailers are exactly the same as film trailers but are created to encourage people to read books.  The group were enthralled with the book ‘Black Tide’ and were keen to encourage others to read it, after introducing the trailer concept to them they couldn’t wait to get started.  You can see the rather unnerving trailer here https://youtu.be/TSG0iLgZK6s

The key literacy skills involved link nicely with reciprocal reading strategies http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/Images/ReciprocalReadingGuide_tcm4-812956.pdf and also the skill of visualisation.  There is a really useful resource aimed at pupils aged 9+ I’ve included the link  below. http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/learning/learning-resources/resource/how-to-create-book-trailers-video-series Over the past couple of years I have adapted the activities to suit younger pupils too.

You can use any film making approach to creating your trailers however the simplest one I have found is the ‘trailer’ section of the free iMovie app on an iPad.  It handles all the formatting and sound and you just add your content, words, still pictures and short clips of video.  Deciding which theme to use is also a great way for the pupils to think about what genre the book is so they can use a relevant theme for their trailer.  Initially I had encouraged the groups to fill in blank story boards to plan out their trailers however the formatting for iMovie Trailers is quite specific so I was delighted to find that someone had already created a set of storyboards linked to the themes! http://learninginhand.com/blog/2014/8/6/plan-a-better-imovie-trailer-with-these-pdfs

We have included book trailers as part of our literacy programme each year using the shortlisted books for the Scottish Book Trust.  This year I have a much younger class, P1-6 with the majority being in P1-3, we went through the same process looking at examples of trailers, picking out the things we liked and things we would change.  P4/6 had the task of creating the storyboard, they then passed it on to P3 who had to interpret their storyboard and direct P1/2 in acting out the scenes.  You can view the result here https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/pk/GrandtullyPrimary/2015/11/27/book-week-scotland/

Trailers are clearly an excellent way of developing key skills in literacy and discussing the language of film, however I think there are many more uses across the curriculum and at all stages of learning.  Last year we created a trailer as part of our transition programme where pupils were encouraged to think about what learning & responsibilities  lay ahead for them.  We also filmed our new P1 pupils so they could see themselves as part of the school.  This was then shown at our celebration of success.  Similar to this we created a trailer to show parents what the planned topic was for the next term, this was also to get pupils thinking about what we needed to plan and what skills we might need to develop. https://youtu.be/J2QtXNe2DqY

During the sessionat #PedagooPerth there was great discussion about how the trailers could be used across a range of subjects and stages e.g. as a summary of learning in Modern Languages, to highlight skills taught in a project, transition work, to promote clubs, activities and experiences that some pupils can be unsure about and even to publicise the next Pedagoo event!

How could you use this in your setting?

If you would like any further information on how we’ve enjoyed creating trailers please get in touch.  CMGibson@pkc.gov.uk

 

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