All entries for September 2018

September 24, 2018

What can be learnt from a lesson observation? – Danielle

PDP Task 1 – What can be learnt from a lesson observation? How does this impact upon your strategies for behaviour management?

Lesson observations are a valuable tool for gaining insight into best practice, approaches to behaviour management, and self-reflection. Within both of my placements I have had the opportunity to observe a number of lessons from different teachers, across a variety of subjects. This experience has provided me with a toolkit of effective strategies that I have incorporated into my own classroom (TS7).

For practical subjects such as science, effective behaviour management is crucial to establishing a safe environment for pupils (TS1). One of the most useful approaches to achieving this goal is the sharing of classroom rules and reward criteria with the students. According to Muijs and co-workers, teachers who establish clear rules early on and provide explanations as to the importance of those rules, will find behaviour management easier (Muijs et al. 2014).

However, he stresses that these benefits will not be reaped without consistently and fairly using rewards and sanctions (ibid.) (TS7). To that end, I made a PowerPoint slide which outlined my behavioural expectations from the pupils and the reasoning behind them. As these rules were created in-line with the high standards that were required by the school, students regularly demonstrated positive attitudes, values, and behaviour (TS1). It is worth highlighting that my approach to behaviour management does not focus upon the negatives; rather, I aim to use positive praise and rewards, or strategies which prevent poor behaviour before it can occur (TS7).

When teaching some of my classes I noticed that the consistent and fair use of rewards and sanctions was not helping to combat low-level disruption. I therefore focused my lesson observations on alternative strategies that were being used to manage behaviour. One of the most effective approaches that was being employed by teachers related to their placement within the room. Teachers who walked around the room and reinforced expected behaviours during a task, found it easier to minimise low-level disruption; this is in-line with findings in a paper which has been published by Haydon et al. (Haydon & Kroeger 2016). Since realising the impact of this strategy and implementing it within my own practice, I have noticed a significant reduction in low-level disruption and I am able to manage my classes more effectively (TS7).

Lesson observations can also be valuable when you are the one who is being observed. For example, prior to a formal lesson observation, I had been having difficulty settling groups towards the end of the lesson; this made controlling the exit of students from the classroom difficult. As such, I was not promoting good and courteous behaviour inside or outside of the classroom (TS7). Therefore, in an effort to provide a calmer atmosphere towards the end of the lesson, I played a science-related song for my Year 7 class. This proved to be a successful strategy for behaviour management as all of the pupils were engaged, calm, and remained in their seats. In-line with feedback that I received, this approach was incorporated into subsequent lessons. After a routine had been established, I noticed that pupils had become more motivated to finish and tidy up their work, in anticipation for the song; this further highlights the effectiveness of this approach to behaviour management (TS7).


Haydon, T. & Kroeger, S.D., 2016. Active Supervision, Precorrection, and Explicit Timing: A High School Case Study on Classroom Behavior. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth, 60(1), pp.70–78. Available at:

Muijs, D. et al., 2014. State of the art – teacher effectiveness and professional learning. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 25(2), pp.231–256. Available at:

September 18, 2018

The Wig of Knowledge – Alexandra

Please click on this link to access the poster.

September 10, 2018

How can assessment encourage & motivate learners to succeed, academically & socially? Dominic

Assessment, whether it is formative or summative, can be used to encourage and motivate learners to succeed, both academically and socially, in a number of different ways. Reflecting on my own teaching practice in my Initial Teacher Training year, I have met Teacher Standard 6 and its sub-standards by not only making “accurate and productive use of assessment” (Department for Education, 2011, p.12) on a regular basis, but by using assessment to encourage my pupils to stretch and challenge themselves both academically inside the classroom (Evidence 1) and socially outside of the classroom (Evidence 2).

Using assessment to encourage and motivate learners to succeed socially (Evidence 1) has also helped me meet Teacher Standard 2 and its sub-standards by helping me promote “good progress and outcomes by pupils” (Department for Education, 2013, p.10) not just academically in the classroom but socially outside the classroom too. For example, I co-led a GCSE PE kayaking expedition to Wales in half-term (Evidence 2).

In my Initial Teacher Training Year I have learned to use assessment to encourage and motivate learners to succeed by identifying and rewarding success – no matter how small – and using this as a basis for pupil self-improvement (Evidence 1 and Evidence 2). Chappuis and Stiggins write: “Teachers who assess for learning use day-to-day classroom assessment activities to involve students directly and deeply in their own learning, increasing their confidence and motivation to learn by emphasizing progress and achievement rather than failure and defeat” (Chappuis and Stiggins, 2002, p.40).

In terms of using assessment to encourage and motivate learners to succeed academically, I frequently use both formative and summative assessment at the beginning and at the end of my lessons respectively to test the extent to which pupils have retained and recalled prior learning. I use formative assessment at the very start of my lessons to encourage pupils to remember one or more key facts they’ve learned from a previous lesson (not necessarily the preceding one). I link my questioning to the classes scheme of learning. For example, with my three Year 8 classes I often ask pupils when I greet them at the door what one of the key causes or consequences of the First World War was. If the pupil cannot immediately recall the information, then they have to go to the back of the queue. In this respect I use assessment to encourage learners to succeed by introducing an element of competition to the start of the lesson. Most pupils want to get the answer right the first time and enter the classroom before their friends.

In my Initial Teacher Training year I have made a conscious effort to attended numerous CPD sessions on Assessment for and of Learning in order to find new and innovative ways to use assessment as a tool to encourage and motivate learners to succeed academically and socially (Evidence 3). Eadie writes that: “There is clear evidence that assessment can motivate learning in the intrinsic sense of stimulating intellectual curiosity…Assessment which motivates students is likely to be achieved by tasks which are… probably more achievable when the method of assessment is innovative.” (Eadie, 2004, p70).

Academic references

Chappuis, S. and Stiggins, R. (2002). ‘Do Students Care About Learning?’ in Educational Leadership, Vol. 60, pp. 40-43.

Department for Education (2011). Teachers’ Standards Guidance for school leaders, school staff and governing bodies, Crown Copyright.

Eadie, A. (2004). Using Assessment to Motivate Learning - An Overview, Glasgow Caledonian University.

September 03, 2018

My Journey as a dyslexic trainee – Alex

I have just completed my PGCE, which I passed with a distinction, and I was also selected as one of the top ten trainees to have their work published. Please forgive me for celebrating this success, but this time last year I did not feel I would hit these highs, because I am dyslexic. I always thought that my dyslexia would hold me back as I have never over achieved, having had bad experiences in the past. However, this year has shown that I can overcome my dyslexia and be successful by getting the right strategy and putting in the effort. I wanted to reflect on and share some of these strategies with you.

The first strategy that I took was changing my mindset from being fixed to a growth mindset. Prior to starting the year, I always thought you were either intelligent or not, which is probably linked to my anxieties regarding dyslexia. However, since reading about mindsets, I have learnt that it’s about the effort you put in that will help you hit high grades - not intelligence. Therefore, I knew that if I was going achieve, I needed to put the effort in and plan my time, especially around weekends and holidays.

My next strategy was accepting help when it was available. The support that the University of Warwick, especially CTE, gave me was incredible. I always used the study rooms that are set aside for students that have a learning difficulty or disability to give me a quiet space in which to work. CTE also arranged for me to talk through my assignment plans, which helped me pin down my ideas. This was controversial in the eyes of other trainee’s; however, they didn’t realise that being dyslexic is not just about spelling, but also about processing. CTE could also have organised to have my work proof read, which was comforting to know, however I didn’t use this as I had family that could help. I only used this option once, but you can extend assignment deadlines if needed. Although, I say this with a health warning because if I had used it all the time, the work would be never ending and would have consumed me. However, if you plan your time well, this should not be the case.

My final strategy was how I managed the reading for assignments. For me this was the most difficult area as I am a slow reader. To help with this I made sure that, where possible, I picked topics that I found interesting to keep my attention and that would help my practice, focusing on relevant chapters to make the reading easier. To help decipher journal articles, I would read the introduction and conclusion first and then look for any key points in the body of the article. These are only a few of my top tips, however, I feel that these points helped me aim high and prosper in my PGCE year.

September 2018

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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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