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The Story of Me – increasing vocabulary recognition.

I am a primary school class teacher, based in Scotland. I teach Primary 2 (age 6 -7 years).

I designed the Story of Me project to promote recall of vocabulary. It was inspired by an article I read recently by Turk et Al (2015) which found that children were more likely to recall target vocabulary if it was used in sentences where they themselves were the subject of the sentence.

At the same time I had been doing lots of work with my class on improving their drawings of themselves. I had been modelling the step by step process I would take to draw a person and discussing with them all the elements that one might think about when trying to represent somebody in an illustration and then, following on from that, how you might illustrate what they are doing in the picture.

I put together the project based on these on these two ideas to see whether co-authoring and the experience of being the subject of both text and illustration could make target words more memorable for children and also to see whether seeing themselves represented by an illustrator would improve their self-portrait skills!

I am currently studying illustration and I was engaged in this project as an illustrator as well as the class teacher (although the children were not aware that some of their stories were being illustrated by me!).

The model was as follows:

  • Identify target group of words for each child – these were a mixture of ‘high frequency words’ and ‘keywords’ from our reading scheme.
  • Children create sentences about themselves using these words.
  • Aspiring children’s illustrators were recruited to work (virtually) with the children in the class – they draw one illustration for each child’s sentence per week.
  • Child is created as a central character so each sentence becomes part of a story about them.
  • Aspiring illustrators gain experience in the creation of a character and placing that character in different situations each week.
  • Illustrations come back to the children via email or online sharing.
  • Over the 4 weeks of the project the children will compile a special book (either a paper book or an e-book) containing an illustrated story about themselves.

The primary aims of the project were as follows:

  • Children develop a strong relationship with the target words and recall them accurately.
  • Illustrators model good quality drawing and illustration for the children and the children develop their ability to draw figures and faces.
  • Illustrators gain experience creating a character and placing it in different situations.

Other intended outcomes:

  • Children get a taste of the collaboration of author and illustrator.
  • Children gain a better understanding of the work of both an author and an illustrator.
  • All children see themselves in the role of an author – they have written a book!
  • Children’s ideas are valued and celebrated.
  • Children themselves are at the centre of the story – they are important and interesting.

The project is now complete and you can see a compilation of our wonderful stories at http://bit.ly/StoryOM2.

There is also a summary of the findings and outcomes of the project against its intended aims.

I hope you enjoy The Story of Me!

Susannah Jeffries

Twitter @mrsjteaches

Instagram @MrsJDraws

 

Children’s Library Club

“Children can only aspire to what they know exists.”

Glasgow Children’s University, 2016

This statement illustrates the philosophy behind the Children’s Library club, offered to pupils of St Mungo’s Primary School every Wednesday from 3 o’clock, with students from the School of Education at the University of Strathclyde having full responsibility for planning, organising and running this experience.

St Mungo’s Primary school is located directly behind the university library, but the 5 minutes walking distance between the 2 buildings is ultimately a barrier between two separate communities. Although the physical distance is minimal, the distance metaphorically is immense and the prospect of the University campus was abstract to the pupils in St Mungo’s Primary, many of whom were actually unaware of its size, opportunities offered and even its existence. This is further highlighted in that I, as a student entering my fourth year of study, was equally unaware of the existence of the school.

This after school club enabled children to see for themselves the wonders of the huge library, specifically the vast range of children’s books covering a variety of exciting topics and the technology and research methods that could be utilized to help them make interesting and relevant discoveries.

Through inviting groups of pupils into our library, supporting them in researching topics of interest, and encouraging them in team work while being independent in their own learning, we hoped to enlighten pupils to the captivating environment offered in the University. 4 weeks of exploring informative resources, increasing knowledge and enthusiasm and co-creating presentations to display this, accumulates in a visit from parents, who are also invited to the library to see for themselves the experience their children have had.

We hoped the experience would reintroduce the university, the library, and further education as a whole, as things pertinent and accessible to everyone, regardless of their current social, economic, political or cultural status.

Being the initial organiser and key point of communication between the school and the university, I had the opportunity to immerse myself in an experience which has enabled me to develop, not only an enhanced passion for books and working with children, but professional attributes which shall be utilised in my future career as a teacher and which shall be strengthened throughout my professional life. I feel I have gained vital experience of leadership as I took responsibility for the creation of the club, planning and organising timings, resources, considerations of safety and “housekeeping”, recruitment of fellow students and lines of communication to maintain the efficient running of the sessions. This in turn led to attributes of resilience and problem solving being developed as several obstacles were addressed and overcome: lack of communication and issues regarding commitment being just some of these.

As I was undertaking my final 3 month block placement in the months from January – March, for me this meant keeping in close contact with the students who had volunteered to run these sessions, ensuring the club was of a sustainable nature, instructions and advice being passed to successive groups.

The benefits reaped from this project were not only apparent in the children who took part, but also in the students from the university who organised and supported the sessions. Students across all 4 years of study took part in various 4 week blocks, working together, liaising with other professionals and experiencing numerous obstacles and challenges throughout their work, implementing skills of cooperation, problem solving and communication in order to address these and maintain the consistency of the club. The success experienced in this first year of the clubs creation has evoked a huge sense of pride in me and has ultimately given me the confidence to continue with opportunities like this in the future, taking a leadership role in other experiences that I find exciting and worthwhile that spark my personal interest and passion. The sustainability of the Children’s Library Club means that students who have taken part this year can go on to carry the club forward, using their prior knowledge and experience to influence its progression.

I sincerely hope this initiative will continue for many years to come as we continue to work together to collaborate the communities of university students and staff, and the parents, pupils and teachers of St Mungos Primary.

 

What do we mean by leadership?

This is a more difficult question than you might at first think. If someone says they word ‘leadership’ to you, what do you first think of?

In my experience at least, for many teachers in Scotland the answer is ‘promotion’. We say things like ‘I’m not interested in leadership by which we mean ‘I’m not interested in promotion. But when you stop and think about it, that’s not what leadership means at all. We’ve all worked with classroom teachers who were great leaders of practice and we’ve all worked with young people who demonstrate fantastic leadership attributes. I like the following definition from a recent book chapter by Forde & Dickson (2017):

Leadership is an interactional process where influence and power are exercised in different ways, in different locations by different people across an organisation.

Given my job these days is supporting the development of ‘teacher leadership’ I find that we often need to begin by discussing the fact that great teachers demonstrate aspects of leadership in their role day in, day out. Here’s an example of this very conversation in action:

The question then becomes, how do you go about supporting the growth of leadership in teachers? If you’re a teacher in Scotland, SCEL has a growing offering. Firstly, there’s our *free* online framework for educational leadership. This has recently been enhanced and can be used to support teachers to develop leadership in their practice. You can even now download a record of your professional learning from the framework for uploading into your professional learning profile. Check it out now: scelframework.com

We also have a Teacher Leadership Programme on offer. This is free for teachers in Scottish schools and supports and challenges participants to take an enquiring approach to developing practice in their classrooms. We have been prototyping the programme this session and we are currently recruiting for an expanded cohort next session. If you would like to know more about this, including how to apply, check out our website. You can also keep up to date with our support for teacher leadership by joining our Teacher Leadership Network in Yammer.

In the meantime, one other way of course to develop your leadership as a teacher is to get involved in communities such as Pedagoo, TeachMeet and #ScotEdChat…why not begin by checking out the one and only #PedagooFriday today!

Closing the mindset gap!

HOW DO WE INCREASE THE ATTAINMENT AND CONFIDENCE OF OUR LEARNERS ACROSS SCOTLAND?

While there is no overall magic bullet, I believe that by creating a growth mindset culture within our schools; we can do much to improve children’s attainment and mental health.

Let’s focus on the issue of closing the attainment gap. The link between attainment and poverty is well documented in education research, including the Joseph Rowntree report on closing the gap. However, working to support parents and teachers to embed a growth mindset culture transcends social class. It does so by raising the bar of expectation, in a way that is realistic, based on credible feedback that is supportive, friendly and person centred. Having increased confidence, resilience, appetite for learning and understanding by working hard and practising different strategies can bridge the deficit when there may be little aspiration or value attached to education in the family home.So, how do we make it practical? Growth mindset has the potential to act as a way of supporting vulnerable learners by working on their resilience and using a growth mindset to increase appetite and engagement with learning and allowing those who have reached a good command of a subject to achieve mastery while enabling everyone to improve. Teachers can fulfil this role as well by thinking about the language they use in class and how they differentiate work for pupils – thinking through their own judgements that are applied to student potential (such as avoiding the use of ‘sets’ at too early a stage; using mixed ability groupings to encourage learning, peer learning opportunities, etc).

Mindset activities within the school should be included within school plans but not necessarily as a separate area for improvement. Think what can growth mindset can do within the context of literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing. Standing back and looking at all activities that happen within the school can create the opportunity to think about teaching and engagement strategies that help learners to seek help, understand their intelligence is not fixed and that everyone can improve in their education.

We need to pay attention to transition points, to language, to the curriculum and in ensuring that everyone across the school community is working hard to promote growth mindset consistently and based on a plan that is right for your particular school and community.

So, what are you going to do today to make mindset real within your school for your pupils, fellow staff and parents? Comment below if you are using mindset to help attainment in your school.

John Paul

Winter Wellbeing

What is Our Winter Wellbeing Calendar all about?

Whilst the Christmas period is seen as the time of the year for joy and celebration, what’s often not recognised, is that it can be a particularly tiring and stressful time of the year for school leaders and teachers.

The plays and special assemblies are all wonderful cause for celebration. However, the continuous run of late nights, mixed in with the everyday pressures of school life can take their toll!

That’s why this year, we thought we’d try to lend a ‘virtual’ helping hand! To help make December just that little bit less stressful and more joyful for you, with our first ever, Winter Wellbeing Advent Calendar.

What can you expect?

The Calendar will involve 24 days of mini-blogs/thoughts for the day designed to offer you encouragement, support and useful advice to help you stay positive right through to Christmas day.

These mini-blogs will be provided by inspiring educators, focused around a different theme of Well-being in education. We have enlisted top educational thought-leaders, bloggers, coaches, authors and inspiring school leaders to bring you a fantastic calendar of wellbeing wisdom, thought-provoking questions for reflection, and words of encouragement and inspiration.

Here is the list of the first 12 days of blogs for the Calendar:

1

Our Calendar will also be run in collaboration with #Teacher5aday (Twitter Teacher Wellbeing initiative set up by Martyn Reah) and @Tim_JumpClarke’s Winter challenge calendar, which consists of 24 winter challenges, to help you relax and be more compassionate to yourself and those around you this Christmas.

teacher5aday-wintercalendar

How does it work?

The window will be opened every day between 6:30Am and 11:30AM, on our Twitter account,  where we will be announcing when the day’s window on the advent calendar has been opened and the new mini blog/thought for the day has been released –  click here to follow us on Twitter

Even if you don’t have Twitter, when the window has been opened you’ll be able to read the day’s mini blog by following the link on the calendar itself or via our homepage.

Alternatively, you can now sign up to receive every day of the calendar by following the link below.

Sign up to receive everyday of the Winter Wellbeing Calendar straight to your Inbox

How can I get involved?

We’d love you to get involved with the calendar as much as possible, so if you have any reflections on the winter wellbeing thoughts of the day, please do share them via Twitter using the #WinterCalendar hashtag.

Likewise, if you have any photos, snippets of wisdom or quotes that have inspired you and think would inspire others through the month of December, please do share these too.

Just be sure to use the #WinterCalendar hashtag!

My Reflections on a Wonderful #PedagooHampshire16

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.

7therenewalcycle-2

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

bigger-picture-series

Taking Care of the Soul in the Role – #PedagooHampshire16

 

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.

webinar-photo

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

Sport Education Model

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.

 

image1

My badminton pack for the students

image2 (2)

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

2

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

Interpersonal Small Group Mediation

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.

‘An Education for Education’ in response to, ‘What is the purpose of education?’

In response to the UK Governments announced consultation regarding the purpose and quality of education in England inquiry I was asked to offer my thoughts on the purpose of education by the EducationPolicyNetwork (@edupolicynet).

‘Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.’ (Freire, 2000, p.34)

Learning is a lifelong process of both passive and active engagement with the empirical and ontological world. It is a transformative process leading to a permanent capacity change, a process which, if actively engaged with and directed towards premeditated goals throughout ones life, can be called Education (personal enlightenment). From the cradle to the grave we learn with, from and because of others and the more we come to take control of these interactions the more effectively we come to learn about ourselves, others and the world in all its forms and strata. An individuals capacity for a lifetime of learning (Education) is shaped by countless variables, encounters, mechanisms and structures, yet one system plays a significant role in liberating an individual from dependance to independence, an education. 

In many cases formal education seeks to primarily induct an individual into the empirical and ontological reality of a given community and culture. Thus education systems provide a curriculum which imbues an individual with domain and non domain specific knowledge, embed that knowledge as understanding and foster the development of culturally prized skills. In the prevalent system this is important as mastering these grants access to later levels of education and is the currency of socio-economic mobility. Along the way a learner develops social skills, behaviours, attitudes, beliefs and in some cases attributes. But if we consider the work of Freire, Bernstein, Marx and to an extent Critical Realist philosophy, an education is more than a process of at best enculturation and at worst indoctrination. An education is an opportunity to liberate learners, furnishing them with the knowledge, understanding and skills, attributes and aptitudes to both master their learning lifelong and lifewide, enabling an individual to direct their personal Education.

Traditional transmission and ‘banking’ (Freire, 2000) approaches to education, and in turn teaching, which focus on the triumvirate of predefined knowledge, understanding and skills is no longer an appropriate preparation of todays adolescents for their place in our Brave New World (see for example Long, 1990; Field, 2000; Skidmore, 2003; Alheit, 2009). Top down and grass roots change have and will continue to undoubtedly occur within the how of learning, teaching and education. Yet the how without the why lacks true value. It is the question of why, and the purpose of an education, which still requires satisfactory address. An address not shaped by political and personal bias, but shaped by the hopes and ambitions we collectively have for humankind as it strides forward into an unknown future.

It is not for me to determine the why of education, but as someone actively involved in both my own Education and within the engineering and facilitating of the education of others I have come to recognise the following. My applied philosophy of Education is one which recognises that it is the duty of an education to enable learners to know enough about themselves, others and the world to find out more and to build a cognitive and social network of understanding. To enable learners to develop and practice a range of skills which they can hone, develop further and synthesise with others throughout their lives. To question, to be self motivated, self regulated and to be aware of how they, others and the world works. Education is about capacity building, facilitating an individuals ability to recognise, enable and enhance their own Agency. If an education is focused upon these goals then gender, race, background, socio-economic status should not hold an individual back. If an education provides the means to develop a lifelong-lifewide learning capacity through socialised-learning contexts where thought has been applied to how group interactions can be managed for the benefit of learners and learning then differences such as gender and race can became facilitators of learning rather than potential shackles on liberation.

To enable the above, systems of education, and associated pedagogies, must actively foster a learning orientation (Watkins et al., 2002), a willingness to learn (see Skidmore, 2003, p.15), and the attributes that could enable a capacity to engage with learning lifelong (Yaxlee, 1929) and lifewide (Ekholm and Hard, 2000, p.18; Alheit, 2009, p.117). Such an education would provide the route towards empowering all learners with the cognitive and social tools enabling them to positively interact with an undetermined future (see Costa, 1991; Broadfoot, 1996, p.23; Costa and Liebman, 1997; Skidmore, 2003, p.14; Watkins et al., 2007, p.18; Costa and Kallick, 2009). In addition to recognising the purpose of education expressed above, systems of education must also preach and practice the tenets of effective learning. Without experiencing a culture of effective learning how would an individual come to recognise and master their own effective lifelong-lifewide learning?

It is my fundamental belief that the most effective learning results from an active process of engagement with learning (Ireson, 2008, p.6) in order to achieve premeditated goals (Resnich, 1987). Illeris (2007) suggests that this active process is stimulated by the interactions between three dimensions of learning, content, incentive and environment, a theory supported by Claxton (1999), Watkins et al. (2002) and Ireson (2008). When such an interaction process is placed within a social context, such as the classroom or wider societal contexts, a further tri-directional relationship is activated between rules, tools and community, all of which shapes the activation, direction and nature of learning (Engestrom, 1987, 2009). At the heart of this active learning process is an acceptance of the enabling role of social factors, a central truth of constructivist, social-constructivist and particularly social-constructionist philosophies championed by Piaget (1923), Vygotsky (1978) and Burr (1999).

Learning, facilitated as a social process within education contexts such as schools, is explored throughout the literature relating to effective learning (see Lave and Wenger, 1991; Watkins, 2005), cooperative learning (Johnson and Johnson, 1999) and collaborative group learning (Gratton, 2015). The literature, drawn from diverse academic fields, highlights the varying cognitive, social, psychological and societal benefits of socialised learning, in particular learning which is collaborative in nature. Ding and Flynn (2000) highlight the relationship between an individual’s engagement with collaborative learning processes and the development of some of their more general cognitive skills, in particular, ‘intersubjectivity, planning, communication and inhibition.’ (p.3). Panitz (2011) furthers this, citing 67 benefits of collaboration including, improved learning and achievement, improved skills, improved engagement and responsibility and improved relationships. Bruffee (1993) believes that collaborative learning processes encourage learner autonomy through a development of ‘the craft of interdependence.’ (p.1). The development of this attribute promotes a shift from cognitive self-interest to mutual interest, the development of positive learning and social relationships between students and an increased openness to being influenced by and influencing others (Johnson and Johnson, 2008, p.12). Evidence also suggests that due to the way in which collaboration requires the use of dialogue, in problem solving and social mediation (Vygotsky, 1978; Mercer, 2002), verbal task regulation is stimulated (Biemiller et al., 1998, p.204), effective learning encouraged (Alexander, 2006, p.9; Kutnick, 2010, p.192) and personal identities developed (Bakhtin, 1981; Renshaw, 2004, p.1), helping to form socially adept individuals. From this it could be concluded that a learner may become increasingly more able to control their Education due to an education structured to engineer and facilitate socialised-learning as described above.

Applying the discussion above to an education raises numerous implications for pedagogy, curriculum and assessment. These aspects are widely researched, discussed and at times vilified, collectively generating much white noise within the ether of educational debate. I have written about and will continue to reflect upon how these aspects of an education may be reorientated to enable learning for the purposes of a lifelong-lifewide Education but other than promoting here a Collaborative Group Learning Pedagogy, a Connected and Collaborative Curriculum and Authentic Assessment I will say no more on these areas.

It is commonly accepted that Europe has socio-economically and culturally shifted from being “workshop of the world” to predominantly a “knowledge economy and society”. The post modern knowledge society and rapidly changing world we find ourselves part of requires much more from todays learners, their teachers and existing systems of formal education. An education must recognise this change and orientate itself towards educating todays adolescents with a capacity to engage with our rapidly changing world, directing their own Education throughout their evolving lives. Ultimately education should seek to build an individuals capacity to both actively and positively engage with and shape the world around them, enabling them to create their own reality; the defining element of ones liberation as a human.

Rob Gratton works as an Assistant Principal in a North London Academy with responsibility for Research, Pedagogy and Curriculum Design and continues to teach within the Humanities. In addition he works for UCL Institute of Education as Subject Tutor on the Teach First programme and is course lead on the Assessment for Learning Masters module. This work is furthered through a number of design and teaching roles which presently include working for the States of Jersey and the Government of Macedonia in the development of their ITT programme for Secondary practitioners. Facilitating this work within education is Rob’s ongoing Doctoral studies in the fields of socialised and collaborative group learning. Rob’s work in education is accessible at www.collaborativegrouplearning.com and @CGL_edu.

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