“The difficulty is maintaining equity, equality and solidarity without over-prescribing what a lesson should look like, and therefore regressing into a culture of tick boxes, checkups and closed doors to every classroom – all that was wrong with teaching and learning in the first place!”
I’m not a fan of the phrase ‘non-negotiables’, to me this feels like a very draconian approach to setting and maintaining standards, which ironically are non-negotiable! Following on from my recent blog Keeping Your Eye On The Ball: Core Business this is about creating the bottom line, the minimum we expect from every teacher in every lesson, consistently. One that we all sign up to therefore providing a platform to move beyond outstanding. The difficulty here is maintaining equity, equality and solidarity without over-prescribing what a lesson should look like, and therefore regressing into a culture of tick boxes, checkups and closed doors to every classroom – all that was wrong with teaching and learning in the first place!
“Our approach to teaching and learning is underpinned by; equality, equity, solidarity and ethical values of honesty, openness and caring for each other.”
During the spring term of the last academic year, I led the implementation of our new teaching and learning model and with it a shift to ungraded lesson observations, you can read more about this here. Since then, during the summer term it was time to hand over the ‘baton’ to all teachers, allowing them to explore, review and evolve this approach ready for this September, to enable us to ‘hit the ground running’. Without a shadow of a doubt, in order for this strategy to be successful, staff ownership was key, meaning everyone had an input and more importantly, that it was valued. Our whole approach to teaching and learning is underpinned by; equality, equity, solidarity and the ethical values of honesty, openness and caring for each other. So, here’s our school’s teaching and learning bottom line, created by all staff allowing us to ‘hit the ground running’. Everyone will have an A3 copy:
The intention is that to collectively achieve consistency, whilst maintaining a creative, innovative and risk-taking approach to teaching, the bottom line is the minimum expectation and the blank space above (notice that it’s proportionally larger) is the creative space for teachers to experiment, collaborate and take risks without being judged. Here are the components of the bottom line:
- Class data, evidencing progress over time (know every child)
- Provide homework that is differentiated, challenging and integrated into learning
- Encourage extended writing
- Support all students in learning through appropriate scaffolding tools that do not lower the challenge, but provide support through the learning process
- Assess students’ prior learning and use it to plan learning sequences
- Ensure very high levels of challenge – expect the very best work
- Make learning objectives and success criteria explicit, ensure the students know what the teacher is looking for from them
- Encourage interdependent and independent learning
- Ask questions that develop skills of mastery, problem solving and higher order thinking
- Mark for progress – use key questions that students respond to in DiRT to demonstrate their improvements
- Use seating plans and group students for particular purposes
Like everything new, we cannot lose sight of what our intentions are, so, I’ve created the ‘pieces’ of the bottom line in a jigsaw format and this will be on the desktop of all staff and student machines across the school:
I’d like to hear any additions you may have that will enhance our bottom line.
Provide the BIG picture… Why we’re doing it? I find if students can see the relevance and purpose behind what they’re learning they are more likely to buy into it.