Butterfly #28: Untangling the web

For us to truly challenge our students in each and every lesson, we must pitch learning at a level that requires their focus and effort. To support them in this, our learning environment is ideal – even looking around them challenges their processing and thinking, and allows them to untangle the web. The Art department set their own challenge today with their Butterfly Treasure hunt.

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Task set…

 

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Challenge accepted!

Sam and Leah audited what they have in place in their Area, and our hunt was to find 11 examples of what they have in place to support learning. This support includes:

-Modelled work, techniques and skills

-Aspirational and motivational displays – of individuals, careers and high quality work

-Course and syllabus information, and the breakdown of levels and key stages

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-Untangling the web – how to get level 7s and A* grades

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-Marked, targeted work

-Areas for the display of Objectives, Outcomes and success criteria

-Opportunities and jobs in the specific subject area

-Extra-curricular clubs, revision and homework groups

-Positive messages

-Form notices

and above all, a welcoming, positive learning environment!

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Staff paired and hunted for the chocolate prize, and the uber-competitor Paul Smith won a few chunks of Galaxy. Chris Black also suggested the strategy of displaying extension tasks and further learning challenges.

Next week, we have the Twilight sessions, and we will return to our Inset Day discussions with a further review of our expectations for 2015-16. a positive learning environment will be part of this.

Butterfly #27: Establishing the Westfield Way

Our Inset Day and Staff meeting this week have set about establishing how we want Westfield to be in the future. Central to this is developing the systems that will facilitate consistent high standards – in teaching and learning and behaviour, and parallel to this,our expectations of students and ourselves. Underpinning this is how we work together with the Westfield stakeholders – colleagues, students, parents and the wider community.028

Our time together this week has been spent in sharing and developing our ideas in these areas, with an eye to a charter of policies and practices by June, ready for the following September and new school year. The sharing is vital to allow for the collegiality, collective responsibility and buy-in that is the hallmark of any successful team.

 

The Inset day gathered ideas in these areas through a carousel, and 029following this a Staff meeting. Due to unforeseen circumstances we took this outside in the sunshine for some al fresco CPD. Our 1st thoughts were shared for more discussion and debate…

1. Behaviour systems. What constitutes impeccable behaviour, and how do we establish a culture of this at Westfield? Clarity of routines and (high) expectations, mutual respect and praise and reward for this were seen as central to developing impeccable behaviour.

2. Teaching and Learning the Westfield way. There is so much pedagogical variety around that we have to find our own path and what suits our students and staff.  A cycle of Input, Activity and Review will provide the structure, from which our key Butterfly ingredients will be added – knowing the students, subject expertise, questioning and providing high support and high challenge.030

3. Classroom expectations encompasses both students and staff, with the aim of establishing the right foundations for learning and progress. Clarity of expectations will provide the consistency, and this should be allied to the development of both positive relationships and mutual respect, integrating this with how we plan and deliver our lessons. Let’s not forget hat students should bring to the table as well –  an unconditional  agreement that lessons are for learning and hard work.

4.Working together professionally. How we relate to each-other will drive the success of these new systems, and this includes all the stakeholders – ourselves, other staff, students, home and the wider community. Our sessions in this area provided a huge amount of discussion, with the overriding principle being that of mutual respect and care in how we speak and deal with eachother. Professionalism is defined as the skill, good judgement, and polite behavior that is expected from a person who is trained to do a job well, and this would appear to be the guide for how we work with Westfield’s stakeholders.

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In all of theses areas consistency is the key, and this can only come with further discussion that includes all our views. As an Inset day and Staff meeting, we all worked together fantastically in sharing and discussing the areas above. Making Westfield the school  we want it to be, as the building develops around us, will continue to be the aim of future sessions.

 

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Butterfly #26: Communication and our DNA

Easter is a great break, weather fantastic and a well-earned rest.image

However, May, and all it brings, approaches rapidly. Students and staff have been slogging away. This is, as they say, it. A few weeks of final pushes and we will be in the thick of it, putting our faith not in chance, but in the collective imparting and communication of knowledge and skills over the last five years.

In Sapiens, the study of Humankind, the author writes of us as the ‘one species whose success depends on cooperation’ (Yuval Noah Harari) whose rise to the top has been characterised by a cognitive revolution thousands (70ish) of years ago that brought brought with it the power of communication. This allowed larger quantities of information to be transmitted about the world, social relationships and ideas, myths and cultures. The 1st victims were the megafauna of Sabre-toothed Tigers, Mammoths and ultimately competitors like our Neanderthal cousins. This was a result of Homosapiens’ better organisational and communicative skills.

These cognitive skills are in our DNA, and on Monday we celebrate this with our Inset day, looking at what we as Westfield teachers believe should be the blueprint for the school – in our teaching and learning, our classroom and behaviour expectations and how we conduct ourselves professionally in carrying out these roles. The Carousel sessions will share our ideas so that we all have input in developing a consistent system of shared values, beliefs and strategies.

More to come soon!