What we’re trying to do here

I attended Tom Sherrington’s Rosenshine’s Principles in Action masterclass today, and it certainly left me with plenty to get my teeth into in the new year. Amongst the pages and pages of scribbles that I managed to get down, I started to ponder over what it is that we need to know, and why we may not already know it.

Teaching has become somewhat of an over complication, and I feel that whilst it is easy to delve quite deeply into the science and substance of how we teach, and how students learn, the moments of reflection and contemplation must be tempered with action and tangible tasking. It is the tangible tasking that I feel Tom equipped me with today, which ultimately helped me to consider what we need, and why we don’t already have it. And so, this is not so much a blog, but getting down a thought bubble before it vaporises along with the rest of my short term memory, and the word eucatastrophe, although I long for that to hang about for a bit.

What do we need?

– We need to know what a full marks response looks like for our subject

– We need to have the confidence to model live, for several different purposes: for a subject specific rubric, or success criteria, but also the sequence of a thought process, or structure- and these are two very different processes

– We need to be able to master modelling in different ways but with the same outcome, to demonstrate that it is not only possible, but plausible to reach the same endpoint via a differing journey

– We need to be able to do the exact same tasks on command, a week, a term, a year later- and then ask the same of our students

– We need to provide students with the same experience of the final exam, as much as we can, before the final exam itself

– We need to use headline language to demonstrate connections to our students, by labelling and giving an umbrella structure to our subject content (this theme is evident within this text, this poem, this character, this play, this genre- see? This is nothing new! You KNOW this!)

– We need to give consistent language and messages so that students connect one thing to the next to the next, sometimes without us.

So why don’t we?

– Because we’re not always sure that we can

– Because we haven’t always done it before

– Because we’re not sure if it works

– Because we need time to practice

– Because we don’t know what everyone else is doing to see how to do it ourselves

– Because sometimes, we’re not sure where the links are yet (and this is sometimes the most dangerous reason, which is why curriculum planning is the beginning and end of this narrative)

– Because we don’t want to scare them

Why should we do these things?

– Because our students deserve nothing less

– Because it demystifies, whilst still beholding the beauty of our subject as opposed to a reduction or dilution

– Because it’s empowering to us

– Because we feel like incredible teachers

– Because to know and to do is both satisfying and liberating.

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou

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