Butterfly #17: What are we learning today?

So far expectations, destination and student starting points have been established as fundamental starting points for lesson preparation and delivery.

This sets the scene, starts the journey and establishes the mind set. So what next?


This week Emma looked at objectives, outcomes and success criteria, and how this is imparted to the students and sets up and clarifies the lesson direction. If we use our cycle of Input, Activity, Review, they can be revisited and students assessed as the lesson progresses.


Ensuring we as teachers are confident and clear in our minds of the destination is the 1st stage, and this allows for a clear student explanation at the start, and throughout the lesson. From this point the lesson should be broken down into clear, manageable steps and stages



The objectives, outcomes and success criteria should lay this out, as this example from English shows:

Learning objective: We are learning to describe the characteristics of a detective.

Learning outcomes: By the end of today’s lesson you will be able to

  • Construct a list of successful vocabulary to describe your detective using the thesaurus. (l2/3)
  • Identify common characteristics that a detective might have (bubble/spider diagram) (l3/4)
  • Create a trump card displaying key information about your detective. (l4/5)

Success Criteria:

Remember to…

Look up words that describe your detective-think about looks and personality (tall, black hair, cunning, clever)

Think about detectives you know (Sherlock Holmes) in order to create a successful spider diagram

In this example, the Objectives lay out the journey, the Outcomes the stages, and the Success criteria the specifics of what is being sought of the students.

Outcomes lay out the manageable steps and stages for the students, and the Wheel below can be used to build challenge through the Blooms words (and align with grades and levels)


Success Criteria give that extra clarity to what it is that we as  teacher want:

“too often children know the learning intention, but not how the teacher is going to judge the performance.” (Shirley Clarke, 2006, p.22).


A basic checklist should include:

  • Do your classes know their target grade?
  • Is it written on the front of their books?
  • Do you include the learning objective after each review?
  • How do you measure the progress made against the objective and outcomes?
  • Can the pupils explain how they are at that grade/ level?
  • Do the pupils know how to be successful?

Time spent clarifying the lesson destination firstly for ourselves, then to the students is hugely important.

The outcomes and criteria will then unpick the journey for the students, and when revisited as reviews, will mark the progress of and for the students.

Butterfly #16: True Starting Points

The sessions this term are very much a journey, with last week establishing the primary importance of the learning destination and its’ communication to the students, alongside the establishment of high expectations. These expectations can be continually be reinforced with strategies to engage and drive students (remember the Hobnobs!).

So the destination is made clear. But what about where we start from? If we don’t know this it makes progress and its’ assessment unclear. To use the  ‘Teaching Backwards’ example its like the Sat Nav in our car. Unless it knows where we want to go and where we’re starting from, it won’t be able to calculate the quickest and most effective route. So we don’t reach the destination! Every lesson!

Paula and Tony highlighted how we can know these starting points, and what we can do with them in our teaching

Postcodes required

sen handbook

In our Twilights last year, the Provision development group produced the SEND handbook, with detail on  all our SEN students, with needs, strategies and specialist input outlined where appropriate. This booklet is the foundation for where we’re starting from for our most vulnerable learners. The postcodes are set out so that all teaching staff can plan appropriateky from their true starting points, and with the most apposite strategies. This is now allied with the CATs data for our Year 7 students, again with information on how best to reach the learners within their specific profiles (all in Write Staff).

This data covers a significant minority of our students, and should be part of our assessment procedures that gives us consistent awareness of all our students, both formatively and summatively (updating the Sat Nav?). Again, this is how we know our students and plan and teach based on this knowledge.

Using the Starting points

This data is obviously used in our planning for all our lessons, and should be referenced in context sheets for all classes. The Staff Planner can store this , and the data can be found in GO4Schools. Tony went through a simple guide for accessing this information, and putting it into a usable format for each class.

It cannot be overstated, knowing the starting points allows us to map out the course of our lesson, and from this, close the gaps that all our learners have and allow the lesson / unit / year/ course destination to be reached. Showing evidence of this knowledge and how we use it is a basic expectation in our preparation, planning and teaching.

Finally, again from ‘Teaching Backwards’ knowing and acting on the starting points, and in particular assessing our students, is a must:

-Saving Time

-Identifying both our own and our students’misconceptions

-Building belief

-Engaging and Challenging

-Measuring the real impact of our teaching


Butterfly #15: Setting and selling the Vision

New term, new year, and the aim of the sessions this half term is to set out in a linear fashion the key ingredients for successful learning for our students. ‘Teaching Backwards’, the new book by Andy Griffith and Mark Burns, has been a real eye-opener in terms of these essentials, and the 1st session this week has borrowed a lot from their opening chapter on Setting High Expectations.


Setting and selling the Vision is all about establishing 2 key essentials from the very start with our students:

  • —Is my Learning Vision & Destination clear to students (and myself)?
  • —How do I generate & maintain my High Expectations?

January is a good time for this, with a new unit, new students or just a new start – have I made clear to the students what exactly our destination is? Is it clear for me as well?

This might be a model piece of work, a key unit from a syllabus, a set of statistics – 100% Merit / A*-C in a module or assessment, or a combination of this. Is the end-point explicit to the students?


The second element to these foundations of successful learning is the setting (and maintaining) of High Expectations.


Teachers are salespeople; how we establish these expectations can be a combination of strategies, all designed with an end in mind – successful learning for all. Andy Griffith writes of Peter Kay and his admiration for the resilience and openness to a challenge of the Hobnob biscuit, as compared to the one-dip failings of Rich Tea.

How do we generate Hobnob-qualities with our learners?

This Hobnob-effect is effectively the development of a Growth Mindset, with 4 features that will all contribute to learning:

1.Learner resilience

2.Reflect & acting on Feedback

3.Pride in work


Generating Hobnobs

-The Pit

Students learn and appreciate that it’s OK to get stuck, it’s part of the process of learning.

-—Support & scaffold

In place when and where necessary.


We’ve all been there, teachers and other examples


If I’m stuck, what do I do next?

Alongside this, establish training and modelling for quality work…

*—Practice & drafts

Based on a model, draft out tasks and allow mistakes to happen


Clarifying expectations with new groups (or re-establish)

*—Signing off work

I completed this work to the best of my ability. Signed:_________

—*Models of expected standards

‘I take pride in my work’


‘I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work’

—*Hazard boards

Watch out! Common mistakes that the class as a team can contribute to

—*Praise the actions

What they have done well and why: Effort, Strategies, Improvement, Resilience

—*Personal Bests

Can I better my last piece of work?

*Model the attitudes & expectations that I expect

Walk the walk

—*Learning Environment

Is it conducive to successful learning?

—*Books & Tests

Is presentation and effect up to scratch, if not – do it again!

This is the ethos of teaching backwards. What do we need in place at the start and before we start?

-The clarity and communication of our desired destination

-Ownership and communication of our high expectations

-Strategies at our disposal for raising students own expectations.

Butterfly #13: Teaching strategies for male and female students

This is a knotty one, are there different strategies for the gender gap, or is great teaching great teaching? Neil and Sophia presented on strategies that they use with great effect to different genders at School. These strategies really do work in the classroom, and nothing can be more important than closing the gap, be it gender, ethnicity or FSM. Underlying it is the primacy of building relationships – with all our classes, knowing them and setting our end goals in place for each lesson.

First up, here come the Girls.


Treat them as adults:

  • Be respectful and treat students as responsible, mature individuals. 
This seems a bit cliché, but it really works.
  • Assume that your students will cooperate and treat them according to this assumption. They will pick up on your view of them and will likely behave in accordance with it.
  • Use the phrase ‘young adults’ (even if they are only 11) to make them feel like they need to assume this role of responsibility and thus behave with maturity.
  • Similar to most adult women and men, these girls are dealing with:
  1. Insecurities
  2. Managing relationships
  3. Health
  4. Weight
  5. Reputation
  6. Body Image issues
  7. Puberty
  8. Learning to manage stress, family and friendships
  9. Social Media difficulties (life comparisons!)

But sometimes… treat them a children

  • These girls are still developing into emotionally mature women – so empathise with the dramas in a 13 year-old girls’ life!
  • Go to the level – roll your eyes at their drama, take the mick with them once you’ve built those positive relationships, remember what it felt like to be 14 in school focusing on “which friend is bitching about which and which horrid boy you were going out with who has hugged your best friend and sent an ‘xoxo’ text. THE CHEEK OF HIM!”


 Show your Human side

  • Relate your life experiences to theirs: “Ohmygosh, girls – I went through this exact situation when I was 13. It may feel intense and full of drama now, but it will pass! I promise! Why not try x, y or z?”
  • They might act badly to get your attention. Try to get to know them personally. Ask about their life and discuss yours!
  • Listen wholeheartedly
  • Really listen. Most girls will mask their true issues.
  • Tell them again and again you are there to listen, to hear and to be there for them. Eventually, the masks will come down and they will open up.
  • Have time for them. Whatever else you are doing, give them time, or suggest a time in the day they can come and discuss with you.

 Praise, praise, praise!

  • Praise every positive thing anyone demonstrates in the class.
  • Remember to praise any naughty girl for any good thing they do in front of all the other children. Try not to go overboard to avoid eye–rolling. After a few weeks they will crave your praise, so then feel free to use that. Make little ‘naughty-no-more’ kids your helpers. Let them distribute the worksheets.
  • Communicate the behaviour you are expecting rather than seeing: “Excellent, Chloe is opening up her book and getting her title, date and challenge question into her book” (Chloe wasn’t – but she is now!) ”Excellent, underlining Sharya!” (Sharya’s ruler was still in her pencil case!) Then smile knowingly and try to be positive and optimistic.
  • Non-verbal cues like extended eyebrow-raising helps remind a student when they are not doing what you expect. As soon as they do something positive (opened up book!) PRAISE!
  • List names as positives on the board as a visual reminder of how well they are doing.
  • Add double positives for a certain task/ behaviour you want to have communicated at the start of the lesson that you wish to see.


Be inventive to get their attention

  • Bring some fun into the classroom! Making yourself look silly and normal will ensure girls feel like you are not threatening, but instead real and relatable.
  • Make faces, use body language to gesticulate and to include histrionics into learning and use your voice for silly accents!
  • Don’t be afraid to be a clown.
  • Use humour – sarcasm works a treat!



Neil has worked with young men for many years now, both academically and pastorally, and shared some strategies as well.

  1. Lessons that end in a product – a specific task, with an end-point, such as a project. This should include addressing unsolved problems and working things out.
  2. Make it competitive in their learning, using single-gender groups in the classroom.
  3. Motor activity – move them around the classroom. this helps boys’ engagement, and give them brain breaks. Howvere, show them how, and your expectations of this – primary school do this very well, but they forget when they get to us.

Alongside this,


4. Show them how… be it homework, how to apologise, following instructions, and above all, how to succeed (simple creatures)

Further strategies can build support around them – talk and mentor relationships (the original Mentor looked after Odysseus’ son) that can address fear of failure.


70% of SEN students are boys, and 20% of boys are termed ‘sensitive boys’, so find strategies to support, nurture and build skills. It is not all rough and tumble games.


Who could sharpen the tools the best? It worked for them!

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Could these strategies cross-over? I think so, as they are all part of great teaching, specifically building relationships and trust from which learning can come. It is up to us to develop an armoury to deploy with the students that we work with. And if a strategy works, that’s great!

Butterfly #12: Well-Being

end goal

Paula re-visited our well-being today, with December being a really good time to consider How do we want to be? What is our end-point?

Just like a good lesson, keeping this in mind throughout can help the focus on our end-goal.








-Appreciative of my strengths

Valuing me is a good place to start. If we are not right, then a lot else won’t be either. So prioritise and spend time on what keeps you balanced and happy. There may be short-term costs here – sets of books to be turned-around that don’t quite get there immediately, but the value long-term will be a person who is able to give their best to themselves and others. This is the balance that needs to be found.

So how do we get there?


-Two minutes relaxation
-Smile & laugh
-Think about my food that I’m eating not the job I’m trying to finish
-Shoulder exercises
-Walking away from the desk at lunch
-Brighten the day – a happy memory photo as a screen saver
-Plan to chill – choose at least one night during the week
-Plan nice food – seasonal food for nourishment
-Organise the weekend

A week can be both a long time in the classroom, so map out how you will mind yourself across the week.

Remember, we have the massages during the week, as well as the Christmas Party and Theatre trips in January.


-It’s a universally acknowledged truth that no one likes Mondays, so you need to begin your day calmly.

-Try relaxing for two minutes before your students arrive in the morning. Visualise the day ahead going as well as possible because this is good for the soul.

-At the first break of the day step out of auto-pilot and clear your mind by eating a piece of fruit mindfully. Focus on the experience of eating without multi-tasking or your mind wandering.


-After work or during lunch go for a walk on your own. Focus on what you see, smell, hear, taste, and feel. Don’t use the time to make plans or dwell on problems.


-Tuesday is a good day to pay attention to the early signs that you are becoming stressed.

-Think about how the week is going and watch for things that are starting to worry you. This will help you spot your trigger points and take remedial action.

-Half way through the day, why not reduce muscle tension? Tense your shoulders without straining, then relax while breathing deeply. Feel the stress fading away.

-Tuesday should be a day for forgiveness. Most of us store up many negative emotions that could be released by forgiving ourselves and others.


-You’re bang in the middle of the week and making sure you feel refreshed is important; sleep is vital.

-Avoid the enemies of sleep. Keep a regular sleep schedule, have a relaxing bedtime routine, eat healthily and get regular exercise.

-Try the three-minute breathing space during lunchtime. Sit comfortably and focus on your breath. Your mind will wander, gently bring it back.

-You could also take a five-minute lunchtime vacation. Picture yourself in the most relaxing place you can imagine. You will feel more refreshed on your return.


-The best medicine for a happy Thursday is laughter; have a giggle with colleagues or listen to your favourite comedy show.

-Laughing has wide-ranging benefits, improving cardiovascular health and helping you connect with others so start the day with a chuckle.

-Challenge negative self-talk. Work on reducing the “should/shouldn’t/must” statements to reduce stress and increase confidence.

-Identify a buffer zone. Respite from work demands is essential for health and performance. What can you do after work to help you recover?


-When Friday arrives it is time to switch off that mental filter. You’re almost at the weekend and it’s time to relax and wind down from work.

-Make sure you eat regularly and stay hydrated. This is particularly important (but less likely) when we are busy and stressed.


Think positive. Focusing on your negative traits and behaviours means that you turn a blind eye to your positive qualities.

-Make a list of things that help you relax. Then choose one and do it without feeling guilty.

Thanks to The Guardian for the well-being week ideas.

Finding some quality moments during the week can be invigorating. I took a walk with the Horticulture boys this week. Breathing in deeply during our wanderings, we found an acorn  planted 2 years ago as part of the Jubilee celebrations. It is now a budding oak tree.


Paula also referenced a self-assessment support hotline:


Cookie recipe:

006      009     008

4oz/125g  Margarine

4oz/125g Granulated sugar

4oz/125g Plain Chocolate coarsely chopped

4oz/125g Self-raising flour – sieve this with the custard

2oz/50g Custard powder

Oven temp – pre-heat 180deg C, on the 2nd / 3rd shelf from the top

Makes 32-40 Choc chip cookies.

  1. Cream the stork & sugar until light and fluffy
  2. Mix inb chocolate chips and sieved ingredients to a firm dough.
  3. Cut dough into quarters, and each quarter into 8 or 10 pieces
  4. Form each piece into a small ball and place on a grrased baking sheet.
  5. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes then cool on a wire tray.

Remember, take care and happy baking.

Butterfly #11: Exam Classes

Today Paul and Jen took us through their strategies with exam classes, central to this being the consistent immersion in the processes, content and questioning for the courses our students take.

These strategies align with other innovative approaches to give variety to lessons, but underpinning this is the consistency of preparation, and building the habit of reflection on exam processes.

Exam skills and questions

It’s all about the preparation, so starting early with the skills is an aid to success.

  • Baby steps at KS3 – mark schemes, terminology and exam-style questions and exam-appropriate language

At KS4…

  • Exam question practice and revision books

001   004

  • Simple mark schemes that describe what is needed to achieve a certain mark
  • Student version of the mark scheme – they make their own, and/or we provide them
  • Sentence-starter practice kits: Aiming for a C for borderline students &  Aiming for A* with stronger students. Get all students to compare requirements to move students on above their targets


  • Practise , Practise, Practise


  • Assessment cover sheet for every essay, outlining key criteria, and where the students got to in their work


  • Immerse them some more with exam question Hooks and Homeworks.
  • Teach with grade boundaries and question styles, so students are constantly engaging with how they will be assessed in the real thing.
  • Regularity – homework can be a real back-up for exam practice, and use the tricky timetabled lesson (after lunch anyone?) for exam-question-time. Make this a regular thing, as well as end of unit assessments.

exam 1

  • Log it all on Go4schools and get students and parents engaged with this.

In discussing all these strategies, what came through was…

Don’t leave anything to chance, teach the exam from Day 1.


Butterfly #10: Personalising learning for our students

We have a multicultural, mixed ability intake across 6 sets in each year. From Berners-Lee to Stephenson, this covers a huge variety of learners of different abilities.

Emma and Olivia spoke of the strategies that they use for 2 particular groups – Berners-Lee, our higher ability students, and Stephenson, learners that require more support.

High Ability strategies include



2)Thought provoking imagespics

3) Today’s killer question is… a focus for the lesson…

4) Speed dating – to add depth by sharing information and thoughts across the class

5) Silent debate – win an argument with the written word

6) Complex articles – for higher order understanding, answers and questions

7) Rewrite exam spec student versions to open up understanding

8) Sharing understanding and comparing findings


These startegies can be used with all students, but seem to suit BL particularly.


-The Environment – calm & blame-free, with routines, free from distractions and clear rules and expectations.

-Develop our questioning – voting boxes, post-its, desks as whiteboards, silent signals, 1st names for students, Chinese whispers.

-Reduce teacher-talk with students leading the intros and instructions, signals & signposts – Quite Area, Thinking Time…

-Use what support you can get – Neo-pads and 6th Formers are great!


-Traffic lighting – for understanding and also colour code your worksheets from Stretch and Challenge to Further Support

-Draw it with pictures, logos and annotation for notes that work for individuals




-Behaviour – tough love for expectations, and praise and support for all, ‘what I love about you…’

Challenge and Support the students. Always.

Take care of yourselves.