In the Guardian Teacher Network Blog, the Secret Teacher complains that elaborate acronyms and jargon have taken over education and are becoming increasingly ridiculous.
I’m being ‘co-coached’ by an ‘outstanding’ team of ‘senior and middle management’, and ‘classroom practitioners’ and ‘fully engaged’ in the ‘forward thinking, thought shower’ of ‘cascading’ ideas that is an academy in England. The word school and teacher are frowned upon here, centre for learning and educational facilitator are clearly far more appropriate.
Gaining designation this year as a teaching school is recognition of our dynamic and supportive learning community; I can only assume that prior to this it was a school where no teaching took place.
It’s been a fantastic ‘learning journey’; I look back in horror at the years wasted before being informed that classrooms are actually environments for learning and pupils are active learners. My approach to this results-based business has been transformed; I wrongly believed that strong subject knowledge, high expectations and classroom presence were crucial to pupil success.
Thankfully, I’ve now got a toolkit for success to deliver best practice through clear learning intentions using WALTS (We Are Learning To) and WILFS (What I’m Looking For). I’ve implemented Kagan Structuresto ensure the customers of my work fulfill their potential. Rules and regulations are now rights and expectations. For example: “All pupils should arrive at lessons on time” is now “learners can expect lessons to start promptly.” Unfortunately whoever did the SWOT analysis of this did not consider all of the consequences in the weaknesses or threats column and now many learners can be found wandering the corridors a good 10 minutes after the start of lessons.
To think that for 11 years it had never occurred to me to tell learners what I expect of them; informing pupils of what we’re doing in the lesson and emphasising the links with previous learning is revelatory. I’ve now fully embedded assessment for learning to create the right climate for success. Seeking evidence of where learners are in their learning and where they need to go has been a massive breakthrough for me. Apparently we’re a ‘world class learning community’ because it’s at the heart of what we do.
I think of the hours wasted marking a pile of essays; ridiculously I used to put crosses next to what was wrong, ticks next to what was good and write extra assistance and advice on what went well and what needs to be improved: crazy I know. What I really needed were assessment activities. Imagine how great Aristotle could have become if Plato handed back his science project with two stars and a wish sheet to fill in or a young William Shakespeare at the King’s New School in Stratford being asked to RAG (red, amber, green) the sonnet he’d written as a ‘home learning option’.