All entries for May 2023

May 30, 2023

Ungrading: more possibilities than some might think

Assessment is often the biggest cause of student anxiety and distress. Some have begun to explore ‘ungrading’ as a way to enhance the developmental rather than judgemental aspects of assessment. Ungrading can be implemented in various ways and is a process of decentring summative grades or marks. In this 17-minute video, Martin Compton from UCL explores the potential of ‘ungrading’ and the various ways that he has implemented elements of it.

May 22, 2023

Spotlight collation: the art of collegiality and why it matters

This collection from THE Campus offers resources on nurturing a spirit of companionship and cooperation between colleagues within the institution and beyond. Take a few moments to scroll through the various categories of resources, including friendship and teamwork, communities of practice, leadership and supervision, and bookmark one or two pieces to return to later.

May 15, 2023

Reflections on adaptive teaching – Asimina Georgakopoulou

My initial perception of “adaptive teaching” was that it was synonymous to differentiation—a term which is still used in teaching publications (DfE, 2021, T.S.5, p.11) and which the Times Educational Supplement used, to describe the practice of “putting the student first” (Amass, 2021). As the two terms are often used interchangeably, I began my practice unsure about which approach I was truly implementing. A broad understanding of both terms dictates that differentiation involves assigning certain needs to students while planning, assuming an objective can only be met a certain way. Adaptive teaching involves adjusting to address progress by providing scaffolding or challenge to support achievement of a unified objective in a flexible way (Deunk et al., 2018, p.31-54). After focused conversations with my placement colleagues, I was intrigued by the general consensus that the main difference between the two concepts in practice centres around the teacher’s understanding of “high expectations”.

I struggled with this concept originally, as my understanding lacked practical depth. During English writing objectives, I was expected to scribe for certain children after probing them to articulate themselves. I found this problematic, as it assumed that these children could express themselves orally and only struggled with writing. I understood that this was a genuine effort to avoid differentiating by task and communicating to the children that they were capable of completing the same task. In reality, the children were not expressing any ideas, and this resulted in them copying a board. Upon questioning them, I discovered that they still perceived their task as different, because they were not doing it independently.

Discussing this with my teacher, we ascertained that high expectations could be more effectively communicated by expecting all children to work independently and regularly changing support groups (CCF, 5.20). Although it seems like the same few pupils require constant small group support, I now realise that adaptive teaching is an approach meant to broaden our understanding of how to provide support. When the children were given a word mat that indicated meaning with symbols, they were able to start expressing their understanding independently, with little guidance. While other children did not have this support, all children were working independently and were given equal attention. I observed the positive psychological impact on students who felt that we were raising prior expectations.

As Coe et al. (2020, p.6) highlight, feelings of competence and autonomy are pivotal in promoting “learner motivation”. Additionally, they point out that “progressing…from structured to more independent learning” aids pupils to activate “hard thinking”. Adaptive teaching has the potential to lift children from the cycle of constantly requiring support to superficially meet an outcome that will not progress their understanding and will only lead to them requiring more support in future.

Although I do regret not taking initiative sooner, as I will not be able to observe long-term outcome improvement, my developed understanding of high expectations and adaptive teaching will have strong implications in my next placement, as I have grown my confidence and resourcefulness in supporting children appropriately. This is a point in my teaching where the WTV of creativity will greatly support development. By finding creative ways to scaffold learning, it is possible to communicate high expectations and creating a supportive learning environment.


Amass, H. (2021) “Differentiation: the dos and don’ts,” Tes Global Ltd, 16 April.

Coe, R. et al. (2020) Great teaching toolkit: Evidence Review, Great Teaching Toolkit. Cambridge Assessment International Education. Available at: (Accessed: April 14, 2023).

DfE (2019) ITT Core Content Framework available online at:

Department for Education (2011) Teachers' Standards. Available at:

Deunk, M., Smale-Jacobse, A., de Boer, H., Doolaard, S. and Bosker, R. (2018) 'Effective differentiation Practices:A systematic review and metaanalysis of studies on the cognitive effects of differentiation practices in primary education.' Educational Research Review (24) pp.31-54.

May 09, 2023

Reflections on planning – Phoebe Thompson

My understanding of the principles of effective planning has developed because at the start of my placement I was extremely naïve as didn’t think planning would be hard. I assumed I could write a few notes on the lesson plan and the pupils would have a deep understanding of the learning. I believed because my classroom teacher didn’t have formal plans that I could do the same. I found that effective planning is a difficult skill and for a lesson to have purpose it must have certain aspects. Ashcraft (2014) made clear that to be an effective teacher you must have effective lesson plans. For example, my first lesson plan lacked substance and I found myself getting stressed when teaching. The stress from a lack of detailed planning didn’t make me an effective teacher as I started to panic that the learning wasn’t clear. However, it has been argued that detailed daily lesson planning is a ‘box-ticking’ activity and adds to the teacher’s workload (Teacher Workload Review Group, 2016). Yet, I would argue that this is regarding experienced teachers.

My planning has been a journey. At the beginning of the placement, I put more emphasis on the activity than the learning. This became evident at the end of the lesson when I asked the class questions about the learning, and they couldn’t answer. I swiftly changed this and put more effort in making sure my lesson objective was clear to the class and that the activities reflected the lesson objectives.

I was very fortunate to have a supportive class teacher who encouraged me to take risks when teaching. Hattie (2012) argues that the most effective planning is when teachers support each other and discuss what is the most important to teach and the impact of their teaching on their pupils. In our shared PPA time the class teacher would suggest ways that I could adapt my teaching for all needs in the class. However, I am aware that this might not be the case at every placement. For example, Mutton et al (2011) mentions that it can be a struggle for student teachers to teach other teachers classes. Yet, in the future, I would like to work with my class teacher or mentor to plan low threshold, high ceiling planning so all needs are met.

Throughout my placement I struggled with my workload as mentioned previously I quickly understood the need to plan thought provoking lessons where all pupils learning flourished. I was encouraged to use the schemes that the school subscribed to and the class teacher’s previous resources. I found that the schemes were extremely helpful, but I had to use them as a guide because they were generic and I had to fit them to my class due to the different needs of the pupils. However, I did find some pressure to use the class teacher’s resources in certain lessons. In the future, I want to be confident enough to use my own creativity to make the resources and use the class teacher’s as a guide like I did with the scheme.


Ashcraft, N. (2014) Lesson Planning. Alexandria, VA: TESOL Press.

Hattie J (2012) Visible Learning for Teachers, Maximising Impact on Learning. Routledge, pages 67-74.

Mutton, T., Hagger, H. and Burn, K. (2011) “Learning to plan, planning to learn: The developing expertise of beginning teachers,” Teachers and Teaching, 17(4), pp. 399–416. Available at:

Teacher Workload Review Group (2016) Eliminating unnecessary workload around planning and teaching resources Report of the Independent. Available at: (Accessed: 20 December 2022).

May 02, 2023

JPAAP: Special issue on compassionate pedagogy

This special issue of Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice offers a range of research papers and case studies exploring compassionate pedagogy in Higher Education. Take a moment to explore the contents list and save a paper of interest for reading now or later.

May 2023

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  • Very interesting, thank you for sharing. Great CPD reflection. by Joel Milburn on this entry
  • Hi Lucy, Thank you for sharing the highs and lows of diverse assessments. I hope you have inspired o… by Anna Tranter on this entry
  • Hello Lucy, I totally agree with everything you have said here. And well done for having the energy … by Natalie Sharpling on this entry
  • Thank you for setting up this Learning Circle. Clearly, this is an area where we can make real progr… by Gwen Van der Velden on this entry
  • It's wonderful to read of your success Alex and the fact that you've been able to eradicate some pre… by Catherine Glavina on this entry

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