The teacher is the lead thinker in the classroom, responsible for the analyse-plan-do-review-record cycle as it affects each learner.
Looking at any records that are passed from school to school or internally, is an essential start point for thinking.
The teacher is the organiser of the space, resources and interpreter of the curriculum (knowledge), divided up into appropriate sized chunks to offer on the journey. This journey needs to consider the whole year of journeys, ensuring that all end up at the planned destination. It’s no good starting off in the hopes of getting through everything. Some slippage is inevitable; schools are very good places for creating detours. If it’s caused by bad planning, that’s the teacher responsibility, not the learners. It is imperative to note developing gaps, to seek opportunities to “bridge the gap” at an appropriate time. (See planning blog)
Their ability to weave a good narrative, to speak articulately, using and extending accessible vocabulary and in a register that enables the learners to be partners in the development of their own interpretation. Artefacts, images and modelling are essential aids in supporting learners in creating their own working images; dual coding.
The teacher is also the team leader, especially if there are other adults involved; they need to know what’s expected of them, working under the direction of the teacher.
It’s the teacher plan that determines how everything will run. The teacher is also the determinant of appropriate behaviours for learning in that space. They can appear, on occasion, to be judge, jury and executioner; it is a position of some responsibility.
The learners, at the outset, don’t know the journey, so they need to be shown an outline, an overview, so that all subsequent parts have a logical place, with checks at the beginning that they are equipped to make a start, followed by regular progress/retention checks on the way that they are “keeping up”, or that they are “getting it”.
There are different structural demands within different pieces of work; an example might be the difference between a letter and a report. Each has structural constituent elements that need to be demonstrated within an acceptable finished product. These could be considered as the “success criteria” for each activity; what the teacher is looking for as an outcome.
Using visualisers during a lesson, to show what you are seeking, by using child examples, is an excellent means of sharing emerging quality, especially if it is always supported by further developmental discussion; modelling improvement.
There is subject specific knowledge. If this has to be retained for future reference/use, it can be useful to create aides-memoire, memory joggers, that attach to the edge of books/pages, that can be flipped out to need, especially if spellings are challenging. They can become, over time, if learners are shown how to be ordered and organised, useful aids for revision; personal knowledge organisers.
Understanding whether a learner has mastered essential knowledge is often judged through oral or written responses. Where this demonstrates language needs these can also be highlighted on flip sheets; eg write answers in complete sentences.
Flip sheets offer continuity of expectation, clarity of focus and brings the learner into the centre of their learning. (See blog on exercise books as personal organisers)
Teachers can’t remember the learning needs of every child in every teaching group. This is exaggerated in Secondary, where 200 plus children might be seen in a week.
The closer that a learner need can be tracked over time, the more chance there is that individuals will make progress.
It shouldn’t be down to a flip of the coin.
· Plan long, medium and short with different emphases on what’s recorded and share with supporting adults. Organise the “knowledge journey” developmentally.
· Order and organise space, resources and consider the available time.
· Pitch and pace each lesson to known needs of the curriculum and the learners.
· Set learning tasks that provide some challenge.
· Share outcomes as learner models of expectation within and between lessons.
· Evaluate throughout, ensuring continuity of expectation.
· Checks en route, memory, use and application in challenge.
· Simple personal record systems of developing vocabulary and presentation needs.
· Books to become personal learning records.
· Know your children as fully as possible, recognising that you can’t see exactly what they are thinking.