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March 21, 2022

The challenges and opportunities in supporting boys' achievement through engagement with reading

by Victoria Andrews

https://www.linkedin.com/in/victoria-andrews-a7b826b1

In July 2021, the Department for Education (DfE) published ‘The reading framework – Teaching the foundations of literacy’, this outlines the relationship between high reading standards and a child’s future academic achievement, wellbeing, and success in life (DfE, 2021). The reading and writing of standard English is central for pupils being able to access, and achieve, in the remainder of their academic curriculum. However, the National Literacy Trust report a significant gender gap regarding reading. Boys spend less time reading for enjoyment: in 2005, 46.1% of boys and 56.8% of girls read for enjoyment; by 2019 these percentages had grown slightly to 46.5% and 60.3% respectively (Clark, 2020). During the pandemic, reading for enjoyment widened from 2.3% at the beginning of 2020 to 11.5% during lockdown (Clark and Picton, 2020, p.2).

Geert Driessen’s 2011 study on ‘Gender Differences in Education’ voices a moral panic however, he questions whether the gender gap has widened in favour of girls or whether all pupils have progressed over the last few decades (Driessen, 2011). Charlotte Lichter demonstrates the historical pattern of the gender gap but has only recently been considered problematic, quoting John Locke’s concerns “for boys’ failure to master Latin and perfect written and oral English” in the eighteenth century (Lichter, 2007, p.7). While boys struggled to study classics, girls’ expressive oral skills were noted, Lichter contends that once girls gained access to education, and particularly language, it enabled them to outperform boys. (Lichter, 2007). Michele Cohen posits that boys’ underperformance was attributed to ‘a sign of his deep thinking and profound potential’ (Cohen, 1998, p.25). Indeed in 1923, the Board of Education detailed that boyishness was a habit of healthy idleness and this contentious idea of hegemonic masculinity is highlighted again in Hodgetts’ journal on ‘Underperformance or ‘Getting it right’?’ (Hodgetts, 2008). Hodgetts aligns with Lichter, writing that masculinity is not a new trend and analyses the constructions of gender in relation with boys’ achievement decline, in particular evaluating masculinity in reproducing the problem of boys’ underperformance, (Hodgetts, 2008). Reflecting on the historiography provided by Lichter, it is evident that the sociological constructions enabling boys’ underachievement in the English classroom, a place that is conceptualised as ‘feminine’, has ensured that the achievement gap remains.

Motivation is central for learning, however the way it is approached by girls and boys is different and thus, affects motivation. Intrinsic motivation explains behaviours driven by internal rewards rather than for gratification, regarding reading this is ‘reading for pleasure’ rather than for reward or recognition. Mark Roberts emphasises that girls have significantly higher intrinsic reading motivation thus, they can read without want of external reward or recognition (Roberts, 2022). Boys may lack intrinsic motivation for reading due to the perspective that reading is a feminine activity. Therefore, this reinforces the debate about the social construct of gender identity rather than simply biological make-up (Roberts, 2022, p.135). The consequence of boys’ low motivation for reading is severe, as the critical discussion points to an explicit relationship between frequency of reading and high achievement in English assessments (Department for Education, 2012).

There is a wider societal challenge of gender expectations which socialises young boys and girls from an early age which cannot be addressed within this essay nor in an immediate short-term plan due to the complexity of the issue. However, teachers can play a key role in positively supporting their students and creating a culture whereby reading is an inclusive activity. This will help to guide boys through the discourse of gender expectations and enable a more fluid idea of ‘masculinity’. In tackling the central cultural problem of identity through choosing more engaging and relevant texts for their students, teachers can become a force for good in helping to improve attainment and reduce boys’ anxiety about what it means to be masculine. There is not a singular reason which means that girls perform better in English assessments, it is rather that they do not face the same ostracization or peer pressure experienced by males and therefore are able to engage and attain to the best of their ability.

Reference List

Clark, C. and Teravainen-Goff, A. (2020) Children and young people’s reading in 2019 Findings from our Annual Literacy Survey National Literacy Trust.

Clark, C. and Picton I. (2020) Children and young people’s reading in 2020 before and during the COVID-19 lockdown. National Literacy Trust.

Department for Education (2012). Research evidence on reading for pleasure Education standards research team. [online] Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/284286/reading_for_pleasure.pdf.

Department for Education (2021). The reading framework Teaching the foundations of literacy. [online] Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1000986/Reading_framework_Teaching_the_foundations_of_literacy_-_July-2021.pdf

Driessen, G. (2011). Gender differences in education: Is there really a “boys’ problem”. In Annual Meeting ECER, Berlin.

Hodgetts, K. (2008). Underperformance or “getting it right”? Constructions of gender and achievement in the Australian inquiry into boys’ education. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 29(5), pp.465–477.

LICHTER, C. (2007). Manners, Intellect, and Potential: A Historiography on the Underachievement of Boys in Literacy. Counterpoints, [online] 315, pp.3–15. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/42979122.pdf?refreqid=excelsior%3Ac51f400f7b7dbaf55d19debc8bf38059 [Accessed 9 Jan. 2022].

Roberts, M. (2022). The boy question: how to teach boys to succeed in school. Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, Ny: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.


February 22, 2022

Current Consumed Model Essay Extract – Oisin Herron

Current Consumed Model Essay Extract

Research (Driver et al., 1994) has found that children in different countries develop similar ideas about natural phenomena which differ from those held by the scientific community. One such idea is that electric current is consumed when it passes through a lamp. This is known as the ‘current consumed model’ (see figure 1).

Figure 1: Popular models held by learners of physics

Figure 1: Popular models held by learners of physics, after Driver et al. (1994, pp.118-19) and Magnusson et al. (1997). The crossed circle indicates a lightbulb, where the ray lines have been added for an indication of relative brightness. The arrows indicate the electric current, where a smaller arrow indicates a smaller current. These models have been reported across different countries and ages of school students.



















Figure 1: Popular models held by learners of physics, after Driver et al. (1994, pp.118-19) and Magnusson et al. (1997). The crossed circle indicates a lightbulb, where the ray lines have been added for an indication of relative brightness. The arrows indicate the electric current, where a smaller arrow indicates a smaller current. These models have been reported across different countries and ages of school students.

The current consumed model becomes more popular with student age. Of 46 sixth-form students, Shipstone (1984) found that about 40% held a current consumed model. Students have also been reported reverting to the current consumed model several months after adopting the scientific model. Joshua and Dupin (1987) reason that the model’s pervasiveness might be due to the common knowledge that batteries run out, and therefore it is counter intuitive that current should remain constant. The model may also arise because of the tendency to engage in sequential reasoning, whereby the current travels around the circuit and is subjected to a number of influences in turn (Shipstone, 1988).

Evidence points to this conception existing in modern classrooms. Students have demonstrated this conception in a relatively recent exam by an English exam board, which found that just over half of students conserved current (AQA, 2013a). The number of candidates entered into courses that took this exam was 214,091 (AQA, 2013b). Moreover, it can be argued that because this conception has been found across different countries and age groups (Driver et al., 1994), a certain level of universality can be assumed.

Chiu and Lin (2004) reported that students that held the current consumed model observed it in real life rather than reality. This is evidence that suggests that the current consumed model may warp the individual’s perception of reality. Therefore, the model may be of questionable use from a pedagogical perspective, and so one might argue that physics teachers should address it when teaching electricity.

References

AQA, 2013a. Report on the Examination – General Certificate of Secondary Education – PH2FP – January 2013. Manchester: Assessment and Qualifications Alliance.

AQA, 2013b. GCSE Full Course results - June 2013. Manchester: AQA.

Chiu, M.-H. & Lin, J.-W., 2004. Promoting fourth graders' conceptual change of their understanding of electric current via multiple analogies. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 42(4), pp.429-64.

Driver, R., Squires, A., Rushworth, P. & Wood-Robinson, V., 1994. Making Sense of Secondary Science. New York: Routledge.

Joshua, S. & Dupin, J.J., 1987. Taking into Account Student Conceptions in Instructional Strategy: An Example in Physics. Cognition and Instruction, 4(2), pp.117-35.

Shipstone, D.M., 1984. A study of children's understanding of electricity in simple DC Circuits. European Journal of Science Education, 6(2), pp.185-98.

Shipstone, D., 1988. Pupils' understanding of simple electrical circuits. Some implications for instruction. Physics Education, 23(2).


April 27, 2020

Stepping Backwards to Move Forwards: A very honest reflection – By Lauren

The end of term was fast approaching and I was, like most, in need of a break. I was so pleased with my progress this term and was very much looking forward to being that one step closer to finishing the course. Then the morning of 22nd March came, my formal observation with my Head of Department. I had avoided having a formal observation with my Head of Department for the past couple of weeks because I wanted to focus on my areas of development and show some improvement.

The lesson came and pretty much everything went wrong. I was settling the class when I realised I was in the wrong classroom and another teacher was lining her class up outside. The starter task took 20 minutes instead of the designated 10, not good when you have decided to include a whole host of activities within the lesson. The students did not seem their usual, engaged selves and I was faced with 30 distant looking faces staring at me. Let me confirm here, these faces were not that of students who were gripped and mesmerized by my teaching, more disengaged and most likely thinking about what they were having for lunch that day from the school canteen. The activities were unappealing and you could see that the students were not impressed as they dismissively wafted the worksheets I gave them and looked at me as if to say “Miss, why are we doing this?” At this point, I received several echoes of “Miss, what do we have to do again?” It is fair to say at this point, I knew things were not going great and I wanted to run out of the classroom; I have never wanted a fire alarm to have go off, anything to leave the lesson. I could picture my Head of Department highlighting the boxes on my observation form, and I just knew that this was not going to be the result I had hoped for. After delivering my verbal feedback she slid the form across the desk; I felt embarrassed and disappointed. I folded the form up and placed it in my bag with the plan to shred it as soon as I got home.

That evening, I was sorting my planner out and I found the observation sheet inside it. I was thinking about the lesson and the bemused faces of my students throughout. I was frustrated that a lesson on Civil Rights with a class usually so involved was so flat. Then I thought about the planning process. Usually, I plan my lessons with the focus in mind and then decide on tasks I know my students will respond to. I didn’t do that on this occasion, I planned to please my observer and ultimately, I planned with ‘outstanding’ in mind, not my students; I had taken a step backwards. Recently, I had changed how I planned which meant that my lessons were more engaging for my students and they were central to the planning process, unfortunately the observer did not see the students at their best because I had prevented that from happening. If I had thought about the tasks properly, I would have known that they would not have bought the best out of my students. However, despite taking a step backwards here, I decided to use this lesson to move forwards. Yes, you could argue I was making the same mistakes as I was in September, however, I was reflecting on them differently and able to identify the problems. I made a promise to myself after this lesson that I would resume my usual planning process and focus on having the foresight to know what tasks would get the best out of my students. This observation highlighted to me the importance of everything I had learnt, sometimes you do need to step backwards to move forwards.


March 31, 2020

Reflecting – “…through a mirror darkly…” Keith

So, term starts, and there you are in the classroom, pen in hand, notebook at the ready, senses sharpened, dutifully primed (Christmas pun intended) by the well-oiled operation of the Warwick CPE induction team (leave that one with you!) and ready for applying yourself to observation. Observing, do it all the time, have done pretty much since birth, should be good at it. Off we go. An hour later and that’s one down. Much as I thought. Kids lined up, came in, sat down, slapped down a bit for being noisy, reminded that underlining is done with a ruler and, according to my notes, did some exercises. Oh yes, I recognised a strategy or two going on: countdowns; gentle rebuke to the disengaged; reminder of expectations. There we are job-done.

A week or two passes, more notes are taken when the sneaking feeling that these notes are all much the same and, dare I say, somewhat dry and moribund. I’m even writing down the topics and annotating the exercise questions? There are now bits of scaffolding jottings in my pad where I have broken away from observing to get involved in the doing (not that there is anything wrong with that per se). But is writing about whether the ladder leaning against the wall is safe, really going to help my classroom practice (short of the classroom’s openable windows being elevated to a significantly lofty location.)? I need to re-focus, and probably even take-a-look at the session we had on ‘observation’ at uni., which, I am sure, would have almost certainly been useful. Ah yes, focus on one aspect, study all the techniques used for BfL or AFL or differentiation. Makes sense. Right, I’m ready to go. I’m focussed. A few lessons pass. A quick look at my notes. What! Is that all I’ve written? Even some of my least diligent pupils would have recorded more than that! Needs re-thinking, but for now I need to concentrate on delivering my first full lessons.

What went well? I emerged, relatively unscathed. Excellent level of heat generated, possibly accompanied by a flicker of light. What, ‘could be better’? I’m left reflecting, but the next lesson is imminent, so I’m back to a bit more ‘observing’.

The Epiphany. Ah! so that’s what’s been happening. The Teacher ensures the students are admitted in good time, they are settled quickly, they know the routine, they have stuff to do immediately. The teacher glides effortlessly and with minimum instruction to the main focus of the lesson. The students are all, according to their respective needs, and with a relaxed freedom, on task. A flicker of disengagement is smoothly quelled and students are transitioned easily through effortless orchestration from the steady to appropriate, more challenging, tasks. Students are acting as autonomous agents, doing work, at consummative ease in an environment of unspoken, yet understood, boundaries. There is peer to peer support. The teacher is almost subliminally aware of the proceedings. There is a sense of safety and mutual respect, which seems to underpin the whole operation. Assessment of learning leads to a careful transition of tasks achieved effortlessly due to prior preparation. A brief round-up and the class ends. Students are reminded firmly but respectfully of the exit procedure. Staff and students are relaxed and smiling as they depart.

Funny, for all those previous notes and years of experience of ‘observing’, I somehow seemed to have missed all that, until I’d had a go myself.


March 16, 2020

What can be learnt from a lesson observation? – Scott

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

My current school places a great emphasis on observations and teachers are expected to observe other lessons and be observed. Whilst this can feel like a big workload increase, as a trainee teacher, the lessons I have observed and the feedback I have been given when observed, have proven invaluable, particularly in the area of behaviour management.

Observations can be a greatly effective tool in that they allow colleagues to share quite simple strategies and tools which can be implemented immediately with effective results. I was recently observed by a colleague who noted that whilst there was a core of engaged and participating students, many students were unengaged and entirely switched off and misbehaving as a result. My colleague shared a simple questioning strategy that would hopefully help with behaviour management. Instead of choosing students with their hands up, which allowed some students to, “opt-out,” of the lesson, I needed to begin using a random selection technique which meant any student could be chosen at any time. This meant students would need to ensure they were following the lesson as there was almost a certainty that they would be chosen to speak at some point. This was a simple technique that I was able to implement immediately with a noticeable improvement in behaviour. As well as this, it also allowed me to learn their names quicker, which contributed to the building of rapport, which is crucial to behaviour management, as Cowley (2010) notes, “at its heart, good behaviour is about good teacher/student relationships.”

Recently, I observed a colleague’s lesson that gave me a lot of insight into their teaching philosophy and in turn, made me think about my own. I noticed that the wall displays were a little jumbled and messy. This was in contrast to how displays are normally presented in the classes in my school, very neat and clearly done by an adult. My colleague explained to me that most of the displays had been completed by the students. Part of her teaching philosophy revolved around creating a student centred atmosphere. She was trying to empower students, give them ownership of their own learning and create a sense of community in her classroom and improve rapport and behaviour as a result. Platt (2019) points out that “real motivation comes from seeing success as possible.” By seeing their own efforts proudly displayed on the wall, students received a motivation boost. This really resonated with me as it mirrored some of my own teaching philosophies and I attempted to copy this tactic in a later lesson.

As a trainee teacher, it can be easy to spend all of your time and energy on classroom management. At the beginning of the academic year, I was able to observe a colleague who provided me with some excellent behavioral strategies such as setting clear expectations, eye contact and coming within to proximity to students who were misbehaving. These were simple strategies that I could begin practicing and implement immediately.

References

Cowley, S. (2010) Getting the Buggers to Behave


Platt, R. (2019) Working Hard and Working Happy: Cultivating a Culture of Effort and Joy in the Classroom


March 09, 2020

What can be learnt from a lesson observation? – Bobo

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

The lesson I observed was clearly structured and planned in terms of its prior learning, learning objective, and success criteria. The teacher checked on the students’ prior learning at the beginning of the lesson. They were asked to complete a task by the end of the lesson. The learning objective and success criteria were given orally and written on the board. According to the three-phase model of Positive Learning Framework (McDonald, 2013), the second phase for preventing negative behavior is the lesson design. McDonald (2013) also notes that having the lesson objectives and outcomes on the board can be extremely useful in building up a positive learning environment. Routine is also demonstrated as part of the lesson structure. For instance, students stacked their book bags at the center of the table right after they walked into the classroom. They were accustomed to this routine that they did not require any verbal reminder. According to Garrett’s case study, she observes that all teacher participants have a common trace of having routines and procedures in their classrooms. She later concludes that these characteristics help to “create productive, positive learning environments with minimal misbehavior and supportive, respectful relationships” (Garrett, 2008:42). For my adapted lesson plan after my observation, I have taken a more proactive measure for my behavioral strategy. I incorporate a routine and consistent structure in my lesson plans. Each activity consists of objectives and outcomes. The routine of my recent lessons includes a riddle activity at the beginning of the lesson, in which students can utilize this activity as a warmup speaking exercise and reset the atmosphere from the previous lesson they had.

The second element I have identified from my observation is the intrinsic and extrinsic forms of motivational strategies used by the teacher. She triggered students’ curiosity in the form of an iPad self-learning activity. Students had to research online in groups to find answers on their own. McDonald (2013) claims that students tend to have a higher level of engagement with interactive activities and group work. He also mentions that engagement is part of the preventive stage of behavior management. On the other hand, the teacher that I observed also used an extrinsic form of motivation. She had a point system in the lesson to encourage desirable behavior. Garrett (2008) also notes in her case study that the use of extrinsic motivation has its value, particularly in times of preventing misbehavior. Concerning my behavioral management strategy, the observation has encouraged me to adopt a more diverse approach to behavior management. I have adjusted to a more hands-on activity approach in my lesson planning. In my science lessons, I have assigned more exploratory tasks and group work for students to keep them motivated and engaged during lessons. Meanwhile, I also use compliments and praise to address appropriate behavior.

Strategies for behavior management is a complex topic. Despite the numerous ways in which teacher trainees can benefit from observing lessons, lesson observation can have its limitations. As a teacher trainee, we opt to keep exploring and reflecting on different methods of managing behavior.

References:

McDonald, T (2013), Classroom Management: Engaging Students in Learning. [online] Oxford University Press. Available from: https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/warw/detail.action?docID=4191356. (Accessed 29 October 2019).

Tracey, G (2008) Student- Centered and Teacher- Centered Classroom Management: A Case Study of Three Elementary Teachers. Journal of Classroom Interaction, 43 (1): 34-47


March 02, 2020

What can be learnt from a lesson observation? – Lily

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

Peer lesson observations have provided me with an insight into not just behaviour management strategies but also student response and engagement, therefore immediately indicating how effective the strategy has been. In particular, I have found observing a Key Stage 1 science lesson extremely beneficial for my development.

Tailoring lessons helps students to engage with the learning, as they feel the work is achievable (Griffith and Burns, 2012). This then reduces disruptive behavior in the classroom as students are able to participate in the lesson. Whilst observing the aforementioned lesson I was able to see how the teacher adapted her plan to support her class who were struggling to remain focussed. Instead of writing to document their understanding, students took photographs and recorded their explanations. This documented their learning in a way that was engaging and accessible to the class. Following this observation, I edited a lesson to best suit my class, I prioritised groupwork and documented student learning through captioned photographs. Following this lesson, on reflection, the level of work my students produced was significantly higher than the work they had produced the previous week, where students had lost focus due to written work expectation being too high.

Griffith and Burns (2012) explain that students who feel connected with their teachers feel motivated in their learning. One way in which to establish this relationship is to encourage students to share how they are feeling, thus building their emotional literacy; Shelton and Brownhill (2012) define emotional literacy as “the ability to recognise, understand, handle, and appropriately express emotions”. Increased emotional literacy can enable the teacher to build stronger connections with students and by doing so reduce negative behaviour (Lee, 2006, Sharp 2012). I had previously implemented this verbally in my classroom, but felt it wasn’t having an impact. Whilst observing the opening of the science lesson I noticed the class had a ‘Feelings Chart’. The students were free to move their photograph up or down the chart to show how they were feeling throughout the day, allowing for changing of feelings and more frequent class discussion. Moreover, whilst observing her lesson, I was able to see how the teacher adjusted her tone depending on the student’s mood or feelings. I have since introduced the ‘Feelings Chart’ into my classroom. I found it has helped me to build a greater understanding of my students and build stronger connections, which in turn has improved their behaviour.

Whilst I observed the lesson, I noticed that the teacher addressed low-level disruptive behaviour using non-verbal prompts to get students back on task. This maintained the pace of the lesson and prompted the students in this class to make better behaviour choices. By watching this being implemented in a lesson I was able to see how students quickly mirrored the teachers’ actions. I have since found silent behaviour management techniques to be particularly effective with my students who can be loud or disruptive as my actions are a total contrast to their behaviour.

References

Griffith, A. and Burns, M. (2012). Outstanding Teaching: Engaging Learners. Camarthen: Crown House Publishing, pp.91-92.

Sharp, P. (2012). Nurturing Emotional Literacy. 3rd ed. Oxon: Routledge.


February 24, 2020

What can be learned from an observed lesson? – Rachel

What can be learned from an observed lesson? How does this impact on your strategies for behaviour management?

Research has shown that observing teachers is equally as helpful as feedback alone (Hendry and Oliver, 2012). As a trainee, I have found it to be highly beneficial for improving my practice and deepening my understanding of pedagogical approaches. For example, I recently observed a year 8 English lesson at another school, with planning as my main area of focus. From this observation, I was able to gain a better understanding of how a well-structured series of lessons, clear success criteria and formative assessment can have a positive impact on student behaviour.

In this lesson, I observed the three components required for a ‘flow state’: ‘clear goals, immediate feedback, [and a] balance of challenge and skill,’ (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014). For example, at the beginning of the lesson, students were asked to recall the success criteria of a journal entry. Student answers were based on previous lessons and showed their understanding of not just what to do but how to do it. I noticed that immediate feedback was given, and misconceptions were addressed if required. Following this, students were then challenged to apply their knowledge through group research and group writing. Finally, students used their knowledge of the success criteria to provide feedback to each-other. I could see in the lesson that students were motivated and engaged by this; they were often helping each other to be successful in the tasks and the environment in the classroom was collaborative and engaging. Following a conversation with the teacher afterwards, I also learned that this series of lessons related directly to an upcoming assessment.

Following this lesson observation, I concluded that my plans to date had not been focussed enough, which could be having a detrimental effect on student behaviour. For example, I had recently created a medium-term plan that explored the literary and linguistic features of non-fiction but had not included (or considered) how this connected with the assessment at the end of the unit. This lack of focus could add a sense of confusion amongst students, result in a lack of ‘flow’ from lesson to lesson and ultimately impact negatively on behaviour. Consequently, I have re-evaluated my approach to planning and developed a clearer understanding of how planning relates to both formative and summative assessments.

After observing this lesson, I realised the scope of content I wanted to cover in each unit was too broad, so I have now adapted my medium-term lesson plans to focus clearly on a small set of core skills and knowledge outlined in the curriculum. As part of this new approach I am also directing attention to only one text type at a time (i.e. a formal letter or the opening to a story).

After reflecting on a year 8 class that I teach, I realised that a few of my students can be quick to disengage, which may be because they do not know how to be successful or if they are progressing. I could see I had not been communicating clear goals early enough or regularly enough in the unit, and I had not given students enough opportunities to build self-efficacy through peer and self-assessment, which could be affecting their motivation in class. By using formative assessment more consistently, I could help facilitate a stronger sense of ownership amongst students and therefore significantly increase their motivation (Brookhart, Moss and Long, 2008).

As a result of the lesson I observed, I now appreciate how clear expectations can impact positively on student motivation and how planning to ‘make accurate and productive use of assessment’ (Teachers’ standard 6) can help promote ‘a safe and stimulating learning environment’ (Teachers’ standard 1).

Sources:

Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice: Seeing is Believing, The Benefits of Peer Observation, Graham D. Hendry and Gary R. Oliver, 2012. p.1

Educational Psychology Review, Theoretically Speaking: An Interview with Mihaly Csikszentmilhalyi on Flow Theory and its Usefulness in Addressing Contemporary Challenges in Education. Karen Stansberry Beard, November. 2014. p.6

Educational Leadership: Formative Assessment that Empowers, Susan Brookhart, Connie Moss and Beverly Long, November. 2008. p 57.

Department for Education: Teachers’ Standards


July 15, 2019

What can be learnt from a lesson observation? – Nicoletta

It has been proven that both observing lessons, and having our lessons observed and reviewed lead to better teaching practice (Grossman & Williston, 2002; Hendry & Oliver 2012; Bell & Cooper, 2011), and, as a result, to improved students’ learning outcomes. Both practices have been fundamental parts of my learning journey, providing me with a wide range of behaviour management strategies which have already brought solid evidence of their efficacy in my classroom (Teachers’ Standard 7).

Effective teachers model in their daily practice the strategies that make their teaching effective. Therefore, observing competent teachers and supervisors “in the field” is highly beneficial for trainee teachers as it shows them how the theory they are learning is put into practice in the classroom. Moreover, through observational learning (Bandura, 1977; 1997), the novice teachers acquire the necessary confidence to attempt those strategies on their own, as well an unlimited amount of inspiration. In my professional experience, observing my colleagues’ classes has shown me that learning-productive teacher-pupil interactions, such as effective questioning and feedback strategies, lead to a higher level of engagement which results in improved students’ behaviour. Furthermore, I have observed that praising the pupils’ effort and referring to them by name helps to develop a better rapport, which has a trigger of extrinsic motivation and, as a consequence, it has a deep impact on behaviour management (Griffith and Burns, 2012).

Class observation, meant as review, means being observed by mentors or other experienced teaching fellows. This kind of observation provides the trainee teacher with the opportunity to apply their academic knowledge directly in the classroom setting under the supervision of competent classroom teachers and mentors. Having my classes reviewed provides me with valuable, instant feedback on my teaching, with the opportunity to reflect on my practice and with inestimable practical advice. Namely, following an informal class observation, a fellow teacher suggested that I could try to enforce a whole class reward policy to decrease negative competitiveness. On the next day, I gave my students the task to make a list of four positive behaviours which make a lesson successful for all the students in the class as well as for the teacher. After they all agreed about the content of the list, we established that I would put a piece of candy in a jar every time we had a successful class. Moreover, we also negotiated together the reward. This strategy has not only resulted in improved relationships between the students and enhanced collaborative learning, but has also raised my students’ motivation.

To conclude, based on my experience so far, class observation has been a powerful tool which has had a deep influence on my behaviour management strategies. Through class observation, I could witness first hand how motivation impacts on learner behaviour.

References

Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Prentice-Hall: Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

Bell, M. & Cooper, P. (2011). Peer observation of teaching in university departments: A framework for implementation. International Journal for Academic Development, DOI:10.1080/1360144X.2011.633753.

Griffith, A. & Burns, M. (2012). Outstanding Teaching: Engaging Learners. Carmarthen, Crown House Publishing

Grossman, S. & Williston, J. (2002). Teaching strategies: Strategies for helping early childhood students learn appropriate teaching practices. Childhood Education, 79(2), 103-107. DOI: 10.1080/00094056.2003.10522780

Hendry, G. D. & Oliver, G. R. (2012). Seeing is believing: The benefits of peer observation. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 9(1), 1-9.


June 24, 2019

10 seconds of PE to forget – Sim

10 seconds of PE to forget

This post is inspired by 10 seconds of a PE lesson which I will always remember, yet I pray that the student in question will be quick to forget. We will call the student Hannah. Hannah is in Year 7; she is enthusiastic and loves to try her hardest. Whilst she can hold her own in a game of netball, she is by no means athletic with a much higher BMI than her peers.

It was the start of the athletics season and I elected to deliver a sprinting lesson in the only way I knew how: sprinting technique and sprint-start coaching, all building up to the big 100m finale. The stage was set, the most eager students which had already competed were waiting at the finish line for the closing heat with Hannah apprehensively holding her best impression of a sprint-start position. The crowd eagerly cheered on as the other competitors competed for a near photo-finish, after which came 10 awkward seconds of depleted applause as Hannah made her way to the finish line, exhausted and humiliated. It is these 10 seconds which I have reflected upon the most in my PGCE year as they embody the degrading nature of performance-orientated PE.

Performance-orientated PE lessons are designed to measure attainment through comparative norm performance. Whilst this celebrates the ablest, there is a danger that such approaches embarrass, marginalise and disengage lower ability students. Achievement goal theory (Nichols, 1984) proposes that we are innately driven to either demonstrate competence or mask incompetence. As such, secondary PE is flooded with ‘Hannahs’ who have undergone negative performance-orientated experiences and now refuse to engage with athletics because their comparative norm incompetence has been exposed.

One answer to this issue is teaching through a mastery-orientated climate rather than performance. In a mastery climate, students achieve goals satisfaction through self-improvement, rather than winning. One framework for adapting lessons for mastery-orientation is Epstein’s (1989) TARGET Model. At the heart of the framework is the movement away from comparative norm performance toward self-referenced goals. Figure 1 illustrates Morgan and Kingston’s (2010) summary of how the model is applied to PE.

Figure 1. (Morgan and Kingston, 2010)

Performance versus Mastery diagram

Upon reflection, using the TARGET framework, I adopted a mastery approach to my sprinting lessons with other classes. Students would work in small groups with the rotating roles of sprinter, timer and coach. They would time each other to sprint for 5 seconds and lay down a cone to mark their distance. The sole lesson objective was to beat your marker by applying the correct technique and I was amazed by the feedback I received.

The ablest students, accustomed to achieving satisfaction through performance goals, became frustrated at the lack of competition, yet they were engaged, nonetheless. One way I overcame this barrier was to offer an optional 100m sprint. But most importantly, lower ability students (Hannahs) which had not held back in stated their reservations towards athletics, actually thanked me for the lesson, because for the first time they were able to enjoy mastery-goal satisfaction in sprinting. My only regret is that it took Hannah’s 10 seconds of embarrassment for me to recognise the need to adapt my teaching climate to allow all students to succeed.

References

Epstein, J., 1989. Family structures and student motivation: A developmental perspective. Research on motivation in education, 3, pp.259-295.

Morgan, K. and Kingston, K., 2010. Promoting a mastery motivational climate in a higher education sports class. Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sports and Tourism Education (Pre-2012), 9(1), p.73.

Nicholls, J.G., 1984. Achievement motivation: Conceptions of ability, subjective experience, task choice, and performance. Psychological review, 91(3), p.328.


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