things I notice in schools

31 Dec 2017

Nurture 1718

I don’t often look back. But it is good to be prompted. To think about what went well and what could have been avoided. So, some of the things for which I am grateful:

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09 Dec 2017

Walking the talk

It’s odd that high quality talk in classrooms is often regarded as an optional extra, something quite nice to do, rather than an entitlement for all pupils. Why, as a sector, do we privilege writing over talking? High quality talk, and its twin, listening, underpins reading and writing. And yet in too many classrooms, it’s something that is just assumed will happen, without being explicitly taught. It’s a pity that the range of talk identified by Robin Alexander - rote, recitation, instruction, discussion and dialogue – is, in too many cases, casually, rather than explicitly planned.

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12 Apr 2017

Why it’s unhelpful to put limits on children’s learning

‘It’s very easy not to see the intelligence which is there’

Christopher Bryan

This is a sensitive topic. In every classroom there are children with different levels of prior attainment and with differing capacities to engage with the work. However, the labelling of children through setting might be putting limits on their learning.

What happens in many classrooms is that pupils are placed in groups which determine the level of work which they are expected to do. However these tables are labelled and however carefully the adults believe they have disguised the fact that they are given work of different challenge, children are remarkably astute at knowing what these mean. Whether they are on a table called leopards or lizards, they know what these signify. Whether they are number ones or number fours they know that this involves different levels of challenge and expectation.

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03 Mar 2017

The ethic of everybody

‘Inclusive, good-quality education is a foundation for dynamic and equitable societies.’ Desmond Tutu

Dame Alison Peacock used this phrase when she was speaking at ResearchEd in September 2016. In talking about the work she had done over the years with Cambridge University and others, they identified that one of the strands of her work was an ‘ethic of everybody’. What might be meant by this and how might it relate to being hopeful, not helpless?

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30 Dec 2016

You never know the good you do...

‘I believe that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another.’ Thomas Jefferson

There’s an assumption that we need to have hard evidence that something has ‘worked’ and that we have had an impact. We usually expect this to be in fairly short order. But it might be helpful to think about impact over the longer term. When we think back to those who have had an impact on us, it is not just those who we interacted with today, but also those in the past who have given us encouragement and hope.

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