There were two main activities related to my teaching this week.

Firstly, I held my first parent meeting online (outside of lockdown) and then I called in a ‘set of new eyes’ to look at my classroom.

Firstly, lets start with the paret meeting. Organised for a Wednesday night at 7:30pm it was nice to not have to go out of my house. I had 19 members of my class of 26 (yes that is the lowest class size I have ever had – and I get stick everyday at work).
I started by saying thanks to the parents and then spent some time talking about our new classroom setup. I talked about reports coming out this week and then finished with QandA. I had a few parents stay on after and ask some questions. All up it took 25minutes with some good feedback from parents. I will do the same again next term – One at the start of the Term (Week 1) and another towards the end (week 8).

My second move of the week was to get in a fresh pair of eyes and have someone do an observation on my class. I asked one of our Community of Learning (COL’s) Across school Coordinators to visit my class. Those who are quick to label COL’s as a waste of time and money, I would suggest, don’t use them as they should.
It was a general observation with my thoughts it would brig about a number of things I could focus on next time.

Shem thanks for thinking of me as that ‘someone to come in with different eyes to share your change in practice post-covid. It is always a privilege to have the opportunity to be part of someone else’s teaching and learning journey. 

What I noticed was that children came in and many children got their laptops straight away. The classroom environment was highly relational and relaxed as the children engaged with you and their peers on entry.

You settled them for learning to “Quick Maths” which is a routine they are clearly familiar with.

As you unpacked the problems and children shared their thinking you were purposeful and deliberate in talk moves with the children around accessing  / solving the maths problems.

Children then moved into their own learning – Toku Ako and you called over one of your learning pods for their goals check in?

A question we discussed later was are these check ins learning goals or KC goals? 

I noticed that many students settled quickly to task  / whilst some took longer. 

I noticed that a couple of students seemed to be waiting for 4-5 minutes for the device to load – in that time the students sat and talked to those around them. I am wondering if  technology in this case could be a barrier ? at times in supporting your new programme. 

Feedback form students – how are you enjoying your new learning?

All students apart from one talked positively about the change.

We like choosing the order of the learning that we do things – when I was home sick I could do my work. 

We really like working this way as I really don’t like Maths in the mornings – my brain sort of isn’t ready for Maths then, and it can be hard work and not the way you want to start your day. This way I can do other things I enjoy more first and come to my maths when I am ready – I really like this.

I loved learning at home and getting all my tasks done in the morning and then I could do other types of learning and stuff in the afternoons. I realised I could work better at home because it was quieter and I had less distractions (others around agreed) I like it when it’s quieter when I learn and I like to be able to learn in different spaces. etc

Have you thought about your use of space / environment in your design for learning? (I know we are very limited in our classrooms around this and probably even more so in a college environment.

I asked one group if they got to choose where they sit and they explained the random seating organisation that happens weekly. I asked them how they liked this and they were very positive. They said that they had got used to it now and that they thought it was a good idea. They saw the benefits of getting to know other students and learning from other students – sometimes we can help them and sometimes they can help us. It’s good to work with others – well mostly, unless they don’t work well.

One did say that sometimes it can be easy to get off task and get caught up with your friends and then you get behind with your work. He noted that he likes it when Mr Banbury teaches us because sometimes we need that and I like it – just like what Mr Banbury is doing now.

I asked one child what helps them to stay focussed on their learning – he mentioned that you used to talk to them about ‘staying in your learning lane’ or he would ask us “are you still in your learning lane?”  and he thought this was a good reminder to keep them focussed.

I really liked this idea and could see how this would work well to support your learners as they shift to develop their student agency and become more autonomous? I think you could use this to co-construct what it means to be in the learning lane and what the benefits are – the  WHY? What does good learning look like, sound like and feel like?

Think about linking to the key competencies and reminding children that these are the key to success, not only in school as a learner but also later in life – I liked the idea of using your own school wide KC’s. 

I liked the idea of you going back to your 8Ban – What does a learner look like…? 

Conversation Wonderings & Thinkings

Do you have to check in with every child around their goals every week? – could the children who are managing themselves competently and turning in their learning, do a buddy check in at the end of the week to share their learning / do an end of week reflection and set themselves new goals. This way you could still see their goals and reflections but this could free up more time so you are able to workshop throughout the week related to specific learning goals. 

The workshops should drop out of the learning – e.g. from today’s Maths you notice that x, y, z etc can’t find the area of a circle so you plan a workshop and invite those you have noticed who need it and invite any others who would like to check in to join you if they feel it would help them.

Or the workshops will be needs based from what you are teaching / observing based on curriculum expectations.

(This was an area you were reflecting on in your blog – and I agree you do need to find time within your programme to be able to have those times for explicit acts of teaching to ensure children are making the shifts needed as we must keep ‘improved student achievement’ always at the front of our WHY.

Do you have progressions that the children use for literacy and maths? Do they know their pathway?

Environment is very Important – and you identified working with your learning pods in a different spot so you can easily scan the room – this would also work for workshops.

  • What we have found is that most children want to be able to get on and do their learning – our job is to identify the barriers that may be holding them back. We did for example have a student who was just too overwhelmed and just needed some scaffolds in place to support the more flexible learning and timetable organisation – with support and accommodations he thrived.
  • Take time to ask them WHY – why are you not getting through the learning – how can I help you ?
  •  We assume that many of them could manage themselves at home, so why can’t they do it now they are back at school … did all of them  really manage themselves at home? How much were they scaffolded by their families? 

School and home are very different beasts and as we can see there are more factors involved in managing our learning at school … 

Some children just struggle with too much choice and become overwhelmed and so fail to complete tasks …most children do want to be successful. How do you eat an elephant?  .. one bite at a time. Perhaps some of them just need things broken down a little more to scaffold them for success.

I like the idea of collecting student voice before the end of the term … and then of course comes the so what, now what? 

Will keep checking your blog for the updates and definitely happy to be part of your journey … exciting learning for all:)

Shem do you follow DisruptED on FB … you might like to check it out.