We focused on Teaching to the Top, and in particular How well do we know our students and how do we teach to the top to drive learning and progress for all?
This sits with our CPD for new and trainee staff as part of the Teacher standards (TS2), looking specifically at Progress and Outcomes.
So what do we mean by Teaching to the Top?
The danger is that all students are under-challenged in the classroom. If we set consistently high expectations we are effectively raising the bar, and driving progress for all. This starts with ourselves – the right attitude and mind-set to really push all students, having in place the right habits and routines, and planning around this with challenging and stimulating activities.
Closing the gaps is central to this, and John Tomsett’s point should not be lost,
The best pastoral care for students from the most deprived socio-economic backgrounds is a great set of examination results.
The session started with the basics – what Ofsted are saying, and what kind of mind-set we as teachers need to have to teach to the top.. These slides come directly from Tom Sherrington’s article on Teaching to the Top – https://teacherhead.com/2017/05/28/teaching-to-the-top-attitudes-and-strategies-for-delivering-real-challenge/
Colleagues were asked to bring a sample class and lesson that they intended to teach in the next week (we’ll feedback on Wednesday everyone!)
- Knowing the students
If it was our children in the class, what would we expect the teacher to know, and have in place?
In our case, this is where the Westfield Way comes in:
Do we have:
- A seating plan?
- A context sheet?
- Their homework results?
- Their assessment results?
- SEN booklet, including Disadvantaged students?
- Westfield Way in place?
Do we really know the students, and what they are capable of?
- The Learning Destination
What is our intention for the end point of the lesson? What do we want them to have learned by that point? If we don’t know this, and can’t explain it, the students certainly won’t be able to.
This leads directly to our old friend Bloom’s Taxonomy. Can the stages of this destination, and lesson, be broken down into progressively more challenging steps?
- Teaching to the Top and High challenge
From this we looked at a number of strategies, all relevant for the challenge that all students need:..
- Flipped learning
Ask not what your teacher can do for you…but what about what the students can do either side of the lesson? What can students do independently either side of the lesson that makes them part of the learning, and raises expectations of them?
- Thunk Questioning
A Thunk is a beguilingly simple-looking question about everyday things that stops you in your tracks and helps you start to look at the world in a whole new light. And engages and stimulates students!
- Kahoot and Socrative
Students, phones AND learning! What’s not to love? This is a formative assessment tool that helps teachers and learners to assess learning and progress. A bit of pre-planning and it really opens up activities and assessment in the classroom. and is open to all (phones permitting)
- Question Maps and Matrices
The Question Matrix is used to formulate questions in a current topic. It can be used in any subject and in a variety of different ways. It allows students to be challenged at their own pace and it also provides opportunity for personalised learning. Students would be paired up and are given an image, from that image they move through the Q Matrix creating different questions. They can then answer these questions or use them as a stimulus for discussion.
- High Challenge strategies:
Tom Sherrington’s Teaching to the Top article offers a number of further strategies:
- High Challenge Independent learning – more on flipped learning
- Open-ended projects: ‘Dazzle me’ with your own response to the work
- Oracy; Pedagogical inputs – explain and present it in another format
- Co-construction; side-kicks; Edmodo/google apps – students take the initiative – planning, organising and delivering, with the teacher overseeing at a distance
- Excellence Exhibition- showing it all off.
Our session looked at all of this, and then in true flipped learning style, colleagues have been asked to trial any of these strategies in their lesson, with some ‘dazzle me’ show and tell next Wednesday. Did you see what I did there?
Bottom line? We’d all want our children to experience this kind of high challenge and teaching to the top wouldn’t we?