Friday, 7 November 2014

Who are we doing it for?

This week I am asking the question 'who are we doing it for?' Let's look at three examples.

First of all; as a ppa cover teacher I have to use other teachers' planning. When I look at their lesson objectives; there are times when the pupil task is to complete a worksheet or work from a text book. Sometimes an independent/more open ended or creative learning outcome pops into my head (on better days!!). Unfortunately the teachers feel quite under pressure to ensure that the pupils' exercise books remain attractive and 'neat and tidy'. It is a shame in this case, that the idea of variations in what pupils might produce, seems to quash opportunities for them to be creative.

It is sometimes a similar story when children make Christmas cards and calendars for home. Teachers feel that they need to be of a certain quality as parents will see them. This leads to teachers stipulating how the end product should look and even providing templates etc. Once again quashing creativity.

My second example is marking and feedback in childrens' books. Teachers make comments in relation to how pupils have made progress towards the learning objective. Unfortunately, I all to often see remarks that are not in child speak, and do not seem to be aimed at the child at all; particularly in KS1 books. I ask who are these comments really aimed at? What are they useful for? 

My final example is about success criteria (again!!). When teachers type, cut out and stick in little strips of paper with the Lo and SC on, and ask pupils to traffic light against them at the end of the lesson (unless try have included a 'next steps comment' and allowed time for pupils to revist the work; and/or entered the traffic light comment onto a tracking chart AND adjusted future planning as a result); again I ask: WHO ARE THEY DOING IT FOR??? If the answer is the children, then all well and good. But if it is for: the benefit of SLT who will scrutinise books, or parents who will see them at open evening, or just because that is what they do for each lesson; then really it is precious teaching and learning time waisted!

I hope that the time wil come when teachers can feel free, really free, and confident enough, to trust and allow pupils to take risks and think outside the box and express learning outcomes in their own way. We talk of wanting to nurture independence in learning, then expect pupils to all produce work that ticks our pre-determined 'just so' boxes. This suggests that it is not just our pupils who are afraid to take risks and not always get the right answer or perfect outcome; but us teachers too.


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