Progress, progress, progress! That is the word every Ofsted inspection focuses on, every headteacher talks about in every staff meeting and the one word that has rolled teachers eyes for years. However, when you look beyond the buzzword and look at what is actually means on a day to day basis, it simply is an expectation that all children are learning well. Two of the most important question to ask yourself as a teacher are, 'Are the children learning well in this lesson?' and ' Do they know it?'. If the answer is no to either or both of these, here is a simple tip to instantly improve your lesson planning and teaching!
Step 1 - The Learning Route Map
Before the lesson, plan the different depths of learning you believe the children need to reach in order to be successful. What are the shallow level, knowledge based learning opportunities you will provide for your children? What are the medium level, application focused activities the you wish to challenge your children with? Finally, what mastery, evaluative and creative tasks might you follow up with those children who really need to be pushed? Once you have planned your lesson and recognised the different levels of challenges you have set, you are ready to teach.
sTEPS 2 - prove It
Instead of a mental, oral starter, begin your lessons by sharing the route map with your children. Outline the skills and challenges that will be set in that lesson/sequence of lessons. Ask the children where they think their starting point is and then...ask them to prove it. You may provide short tasks for them or simply ask them to have a go for themselves, either way get the children to prove where they believe their starting points are. Inevitably, some children will be too optimistic or undervalue their own ability. This a great opportunity for you as a teacher to interact with children and help develop their understanding of their own ability. By doing this activity, the children have self-differentiated themselves. Some children may surprise you and be better than you thought. Let them go, let them start further down your learning route map. From here onwards you now know that whatever the children do in that or those lessons, they will always be learning something new! And that, my lovely teacher friends, is Progress!
Are children learning well?
Yes they are!
Step 3 - Set Targets
Before you deliver your input, it is now time to develop the children's understanding of where they want to be by the end of the lesson. Do they want to be one or two steps further down the route map? Or further? Get them to set the target and get them to think how they will get there. What will they need to be successful? Who may they need support from? This is a simple but very important stage of allowing children to know they are learning and understanding how they are going to learn.
Step 4 - Check In
Continue with your lesson. Guide groups, facilitate independent work and allow the children to draw knowledge and support from each other. Watch and guide the children as they move through the route map. Add new steps into your route map where necessary. Adaptation is key! Then, when the time is right and the momentum of the lesson is just starting to slow, pause them! Ask how they are getting on. Ask how close are they to reaching their target. Ask if they need to revise their targets. This only has to last 2 minutes, but it gives children a time to reset, refocus and set new targets. Tackle any misconceptions or barriers you have noticed and then let them go again.
'Progress will hit them in the face like a big wet fish!'
Step 5 - Prove It Again
At the end of the lesson, give time to ask where children have reached in their route map. Then, as you did at the beginning, task them with an opportunity to prove where they are at now. What can your children do now that they couldn't do at the beginning of the lesson? Ask your pupils, how successful they think they have been. When they see what they can now do and talk about how they got there and the journey they have been on, progress will hit them in the face like a big wet fish!
Do the children know they are learning?
Yes they do!