It is always interesting talking with student teachers, because, by definition, they are still learning; they are students in Initial Teacher Education. Trying to unpick different elements that go to make up good teaching can give rise to interesting side issues, not least seeking synonyms for different aspects of the role. The two most common to seek alternatives are differentiation and assessment.
I quite like to start with simpler models then build onto that framework of understanding. When I was training, I had a friend whose first port of call for any topic was the Ladybird series, where there was easily available a rapid introduction to a subject, so that provided the sub-headings to be filled in with detail later.
It is very important for trainee (and qualified) teachers to develop a holistic awareness and knowledge of the needs of the full range of children with whom they will work, so that, when faced with a particular year-group, their attainment can be seen in context and provide the basis for planning.
My own model of what teaching is can be described as a cycle; analyse, plan, do, review, record, or, even more simply, as in the nutshell below.
The range of children within a class can vary significantly, but, even within selected classes, such as streams and sets, there is a range to be accommodated, with both subject knowledge and skill needs to be addressed. Knowing the different needs of the children ensures that challenge within tasking can be tailored to their needs, with the need to articulate challenge being greater than the need to show different activities, which can be the fall-back position.
It is, in reality the need to see children challenged within a lesson that an observer wishes to see. What have the children got to get their teeth into, to think about, to talk about and then to write about? That this will be different for different children seems to me to be self-evident, but then, I taught before the initial National Curriculum, quite often in an Integrated Day, group-based approach, which was then a feature of Primary practice. Group-based tasking was normal.
So, the first word that needs to be evident in the classroom is challenge and how this is manifest and visible across the range of abilities. It can be embedded in personal challenge or learning targets, which can be the main focus within a broader tasking.
The use of display, as in WAGOLL (What A Good One Looks Like) walls can be a valuable asset to discussing improvement. It is a case of constantly putting quality in front of children, so that they can build a visual image of expectation and take some charge of their own efforts.
Every outcome should become a new baseline if the process of challenge and improving outcomes is embedded in classroom practice. Each successive outcome becomes a descriptor of progression.
Of course the issue then is how to describe progress across a subject, so that there is a framework against which to make the judgement. The question is; how far have they travelled and where next? And so we go round the houses, especially without clear frames of reference.
Other linked posts.
Frame of reference? http://chrischiversthinks.weebly.com/blog-thinking-aloud/frames-of-referenceformative-assessment
Progress and outcomes http://chrischiversthinks.weebly.com/blog-thinking-aloud/progress-and-outcomes
What does progress look like? http://chrischiversthinks.weebly.com/blog-thinking-aloud/progress-what-does-it-look-like
Assessment with children in mind. http://chrischiversthinks.weebly.com/blog-thinking-aloud/assessment-with-children-in-mind