Our Teaching, Learning & Assessment (TLA) Links provide their final reflections for the 2020-21 academic year.
Alex Halpin - TLA Link at Leeds City Academy
Looking back on my contributions to the White Rose Academies Trust (WRAT) CPD programme I have covered recall, improving writing through ‘The Writing Revolution’, career progression, metacognition and storytelling in History.
All of these sessions have been extremely enjoyable due to the number of colleagues actively participating. I cannot wait to get planning for next year too, so do get in touch with your academy TLA Link to let them know if there are any topics you would like to have a CPD session on.
Most recently, metacognition has taken up most of my research and discussions with other teachers, so I hope to continue trialling strategies to create further CPD next year.
My most recent strategy has been very effective with students where students keep a note of their own mistakes in lesson and then work on those mistakes as homework. It led to improved engagement and scores on end of unit assessments.
An example of how students can use their vocabulary book to note key information that they struggle to remember or understand
I will continue to recommend Motivated Teaching by Peps Mccrea to anyone who will listen to me! This book is bursting with good ideas, all with clear rationale and backed by education research. It covers aspects of teaching including instruction, assessment and metacognition.
Another book, I would recommend is Connect the Dots by Tricia Taylor. Many books talk of the importance of giving students information but fail to discuss how we get that knowledge to become a memory.
Tricia Taylor does this in an extremely easy to understand way, discussing the science of memory and how best we can teach to ensure knowledge sticks. It discusses recall, how to sequence learning, how to use strategies to improve memory as instructional aids or as tasks. A must read.
My own personal CPD library continues to expand and the first book I will be reading over the summer is Kate Jones’ Retrieval Practice Part 2. Those who were able to attend my CPD earlier this year on recall were able to take away a large number of different recall activities to try. These were heavily influenced by Kate Jones and I cannot wait to start reading her latest instalment to improve my recall in lessons further.
My priorities for the summer are to continue to improving the curriculum. This tweet sums up the importance of curriculum planning, you could be the most effective teacher in the world but if your curriculum is not as good as possible then your children will not meet their potential.
So, I will be continuing to evaluate the curriculum, what worked, what needed to improve. For example, a recent finding is to help improve challenge, certain schemes need to be adapted to add more time for students to work independently therefore, the sheer amount of content needs to be reduced. Good luck working with your own curriculum.
Michelle Minton - TLA Link at Leeds West Academy
Wow! What a year! In my final bulletin I would like to reflect upon this year – up there with the strangest year of teaching EVER!
Over the course of the year, the teaching professional has met the challenge of online teaching and learning with innovation, enthusiasm and relentless reflection. We have adapted our ‘bread and butter’ of the classroom to an online environment which I for one, didn’t know existed. We’ve loom-ed, zoom-ed and teams-ed from our kitchens, with our pets, and alongside home schooling children and managing our own concerns.
Please take a minute to congratulate yourself on everything you have done to support the young people across the city.
As I reflect upon this year, I have come to the conclusion that great teaching is great teaching wherever you do it. Through collaborating with colleagues across the WRAT I have had the opportunity to learn from professionals from different subject areas, different educational phases and in different contexts.
Key elements of great teaching which have stood out to me this year have been:
1. Get to know your students – what motivates them? What support and challenges do they respond to? How can you get the best out of them?
2. Have high expectations – be clear about what your expectations are, stick to them and explain to students why they are important.
3. High Challenge, Low Threat – create lessons which challenge students, get them thinking hard and outside of their comfort zone. Scaffold when needed, praise effort and encourage.
4. Check for understanding – really check for understanding – don’t assume anything. Do they know what you want them to? How do you know? Do they still know in a week’s time? What misconceptions might they have? How can you check these?
5. Share the love of your subject and of teaching – hone your craft, teach with enthusiasm and never stop learning.
I would like to thank all colleagues who have presented and participated in the CPD sessions and Teach Meets I have hosted this year.
I will sign off with the quote I shared in half term 1:
“How powerful it would be if every child was taught with the collective expertise of the whole system” (Weston and Clay, 2018)
Rebecca Ashraf - TLA Link at Leeds East Academy
This half term I participated in the WRAT Teach Meet and spoke about questioning to support and challenge.
First, I considered the different methods of questioning that we have available to us and broke that down into what it should look like within the classroom.
Strategies included questioning against the learning outcomes to assess pupils progress at starts, hinge points and ends of lessons, assessment for learning techniques to identify any misconceptions and close any gaps in knowledge, and Socratic questioning to challenge pupils with “how” and “why” questions, rather than focusing on “what” questions.
I then considered how we can question to support pupils during explanations and ensure that all learners are making the necessary progress. This included strategies such as using wait times to ensure that all pupils have sufficient time to formulate a response, using whole class questioning to address any misconceptions, working collaboratively as a class to improve one another’s answers and providing pupils with sentence starters to help them form a more academic response.
Finally, I discussed how we can use questioning to stretch our pupils to ensure that we consistently have ambition and challenge woven throughout our curriculum. This included consistently incorporating Socratic questioning into our teaching practice to get pupils to think deeper and become more analytical learners.
Also, to have differentiated activities so that you can direct pupils towards the more challenging questions and activities. As well as this, you can encourage discussion and debate to enable pupils to critique one another’s work and further develop their responses.
To conclude, participating in the WRAT Teach Meet is always a fantastic experience to share best practice with my peers and also to find new strategies to take away and trial in my classroom. I’ve learnt so much from these sessions this year and look forward to them continuing next academic year.