Monthly Archives: July 2017

Changing student mind-set towards learning

Changing student mind-set towards learning

As we approach the end of term, our subject reviews, have provided a great forum for discussions and I was fascinated by a trial our scientists have been working on and will continue to measure the impact of next year.

Like many subjects they would like more curriculum time in year 11 and worry that they are falling behind as you can see in their opening slide! Using their professional judgement initially, they have worked out that 50% of their students are working in the way that they need to, to be successful in their science classes and exams.  They would say that this is better than it was but obviously not where it should be.  ‘Working the way they need to’ doesn’t just mean rolling up and keeping your head down for a lesson and you can see our generic gold mind-set standard below.

You show outstanding commitment and concentration in lessons.
You embrace challenge in all aspects of your work.
You have a constant desire to conquer the toughest aspects of your learning and will view any mistakes positively to ensure you get it right next time. You say ‘yet’ a lot.
You are determined to master subject skills and knowledge and are prepared to practice on your weak areas. You seek feedback and use it so that you improve. Supporting other students is also really important to you. You know how to provide them with honest feedback when it is needed.

There has been much discussion nationally, and in our own school, about the requirements for students to take responsibility for their own behaviour and learning. Some would argue that if a child misbehaves or refuses to have the correct learning attitude and stops the learning of themselves and others; that is down to them and not the lack of ‘engaging’ teaching or ‘classroom control’ skills of the teacher.  I’m hardly likely to support poor teaching but I do know that we have a fantastic set of teachers and need the students to have the mind-set to make the most of their teaching. I can accept that as a school we need to have the structures and systems in place to ensure that quality teaching has the optimum chance to impact on student learning.  Great behaviour for learning and learning mind-sets don’t always come easy for every student but if they attend our school, we should be insistent on them rapidly acquiring those traits, supporting them as they develop those traits and rewarding their successes as they grow into the learners we know they need to be.  Inclusive excellence for all!

The scientists have developed a direct instruction model of teaching, supported by each child having their own booklet [knowledge organiser style with deeper questions than the text books] and regular retrieval quizzing and tracking in place. You can see in the extract below that there is a great deal of collaborative planning involved and shared good practice e.g. on misconceptions and planning how to prevent in the future. For those who are trialling direct instruction, modelling is often the stumbling block and informal drop in observations are allowing colleagues to watch each other develop effective strategies.

The green text are some of the priority areas for constant consideration and finding out more about. Working out exactly where to quiz again/recap on the forgetting curve can be different depending on the complexity of the topic, they have found and we didn’t really know if anyone has written/researched about ‘proxies for learning’ in SCIENCE! We know Coe’s generic proxies and tried to skim through Didau’s big book, ‘What if everything……’ but to no avail.  I need to consult twitter to ask if any such evidence exists for different subjects.  It’s really important to us that we have a discussion in this in subject specific terms.

The slide which interested me most and made me share what we were discussing internally and externally was this one.

Each teacher was asked to think about their classes and make a professional judgement about the learning mind-set of each student [They did find a correlation between their own mind-set grades that appear on our reports] There were 5 categories and I’m sure that other colleagues will all recognise students in every category in their class. It isn’t rocket science to immediately realise that having thought about the mind-set of the students, our scientists were now going to try to move all of the students up so that there were increasing numbers of students who fitted the hard-working, committed success criteria that the faculty want to see in their lessons. I’ve mentioned direct instruction, our new folders and have written about our new behavioural policy in an earlier blog.  These have definitely pushed the numbers of ‘ready to learn’ upwards but these tactics are designed to support this preparedness even more.  Down to the minutiae of Cs being placed at the end of rows, Ds being dotted around the room and so on so that Cs have every chance of becoming a B and Ds are prevented from becoming Es. Es are spread around the classes and interestingly they were in the higher sets and not the lower sets or SEND students.

It’s a trial and one that needs to be shared with all of our staff and may interest other schools. As I think about it more and think about possible moves to mixed ability teaching, I can see immediate advantages but as a stand-alone trial, I can’t wait to see what the data will show by Xmas.

You can see the final slide and I’ll leave it here so that others can see their thoughts and can ask questions of it should they wish to.

Thank you to Carmel and Hannah for sharing.