I’ve just read Andy Tharby’s great post on the three things he is going to cut out and focus on next year – read it here. I think that the end of the summer term is a good time to reflect on the year that has just passed, and how this is going to shape our focus for the coming year. So here are three things I’ll be focusing on next year.
We’ve done a lot of work on what we think great teaching is about – in case you missed it, Andy and I have even written a book about it ‘Making every lesson count’. In the book we explore six principles that we believe are essential for great teaching.
Like most schools, when we report on students three times a year, we give them an effort grade. However, it isn’t really high profile and due to a vague set of descriptors, it means different things to different people. So, a group of staff (led by Andy) have had a look at this and come up with a new effort rubric for next year – based on the principles of growth mindset, grit and resilience. See below:
Great teaching is obviously very important, however, if it isn’t coupled with focused effort by students, it isn’t going to have the impact it could. So, effort is going to be high profile at our school next year. Some of the things we have planned:
- Using INSET time to discuss with departments ‘what does exemplary effort look like in your subject and how can our practice support this more?‘
- Using assemblies to unpick and discuss exemplary effort, using examples from students.
- Asking students to reflect on their effort once a term and set themselves targets for the next term.
- Subject & company leaders will use effort grades (based on this rubric) to plan and monitor effort based interventions.
- A student research council will be set up to discuss the research literature around effort, mindset and grit and then plan effort based interventions with their peers, that they will lead on.
- Celebrating students who approach their work with exemplary effort through ‘Subject exhibitions’ (see below) and planned meetings with the governors, where these students are invited to show and talk about their work with the school governors.
Secondly, we are going to shift our CPD focus into subjects. Whilst it’s very important to discuss generic pedagogy with colleagues outside of your subject area, there has been a lack of focus on giving subject teams time to talk about what works, within the context of their subject area.
So to do this we are going to have three main approaches:
- Subject pedagogy development sessions – at each INSET day, staff will be introduced to a specific pedagogical theme e.g. effort & self regulation; tier 2 vocabulary; difficulties & misconceptions; modelling; feedback. They will then meet within their subject teams to discuss how this works successfully in their subject – and then commit to trying out something new, within their own lessons.
- Subject specific 15 minute forums – 15 minute forums have made a big difference to the culture of collaboration in our school. A number of subjects are now looking to take this idea into their own areas. So for example, science are looking to start each department meeting next year with a 15 minute forum – science staff have identified topics that that students find difficult, and then somebody will lead a S15MF on how they approach teaching it.
- IRIS supported lesson study – this year three geography teachers have taken part in a cycle of IRIS supported lesson study – read more about it here. This has been a great model of subject focused CPD and is something we want to develop in other subjects.
We want our teachers and leaders to be able to focus on their core purpose – delivering great teaching, so students learn well and achieve beyond their expectations. With this in mind, we have looked at some of the things we can change or stop doing, to facilitate this. Some of the things we have done so far include:
- No graded lesson observations – lesson observations are formative and developmental.
- No graded marking walks – subject teams meet and discuss student work, using it as an opportunity to share best practice.
- Department Learning Reviews are now controlled by subject leaders – they decide when they will do lesson observations, to make it a more useful process for them and their teams.
- Departments are given lots of time on INSET days for collaborative planning.
- No intervention logs – allowing teachers time to plan and actually do the intervention (in most cases, teaching them well!)
- No need for time consuming appraisal evidence files.
- Using some generic appraisal objectives – we all do the same job, so rather than spending time mulling over the objectives, focus your efforts on the actions/CPD needed to achieve. This is the flexibility for personalised objectives too.
- Removing written targets from reports.
- Exploring ways of logging any behaviour issues, detentions etc electronically – reducing the time needed to write out lengthy documents.
- Rewriting the homework policy – so subjects can focus on the type of homework that works for them.
- A review of the feedback policy – so subjects can identify the kind of feedback that works best for them (as opposed to a rigid, one size fits all approach).
- Supporting staff that are/have moved through the threshold, by providing them with a range of developmental UPR roles.
- Producing a yearly planner for Subject Leaders – supporting their planning by stating the key events/tasks that are coming up each month.
- Slimming down exams analysis documents that subject leaders do – giving it more of a focus on lessons learned and looking forward.
- Giving subject leaders the freedom to schedule their department meetings at a time that suits them best.
For now though – time to relax, recharge and have a lovely summer – and maybe share your #3things for next year.
And remember, if you’re still undecided on your summer reading……