I have been guilty in the past of associating copious amounts of green pen with effective feedback and progress. Surely, the more I write on work, the more feedback I provide, the more progress will be made next time? The students shall be impressed by the quantity of my marking, and absorb my words of wisdom like a sponge, deploying them next time and making leaps and bounds of progress.
We have re-designed our CPD programme this year, underpinned by a desire for a no-blame culture where we take risks in the classroom based on judicious use of evidence-informed strategies. Teachers have chosen a PM question to work on, based on their own development and our whole-school aims.
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Growth mindset has a ring of truth to it, but will require organisational change as well as changes to classroom practice. We don’t want Growth mindset to end up on the pile of discarded educational fads. We plan to take things slowly, look for evidence of positive impact, and work on improving our own mindsets before lamenting a lack of resilience in the students in our care.
This week, I’ve been covering ionic bonding and structure with year 11. This is an important topic, and the concepts within it form the basis of many key ideas in future modules, so I have been thinking about how best to help them understand and retain these fundamental (threshold) concepts.
Students need to feel there is a “point” to all this, especially when you ask them to feed back to you about how things are going (and if they have any questions for you). It’s therefore very important to take the time to answer any questions they ask, and to show that you have taken account of their feedback.
For example, at the end of an online homework, I asked pupils to tell me about aspects of the current topic that they found most difficult. In the following lesson, I displayed some (anonymised) representative responses on the board, and went through key points with the class.
Picture quiz Here’s a picture quiz for you. I used it with my year 11s the other week. What’s the connection? The connection is a man called Jack Maitland. He has coached the Brownlee brothers since they were teenagers, and helped them to win their 4 Olympic medals. He also coached Leeds Triathlon Club (now…
I now have a list of “tricky concepts” or perhaps “key concepts” (I wouldn’t call them all threshold concepts), which I will add to as I teach this year.
My next step is to plan these concepts into lesson sequences and teach them explicitly, then revisit them, spacing and interleaving them among other topics/ concepts.