The blog for Creative T&L by jkfairclough
I would argue that all teachers do want their students to become independent learners. However as Mike Gershon aptly points out in his blog there is often a gap between the teacher’s intentions and day to day classroom routines. In terms of the quality of teaching & learning, much focus at Aldridge School had been placed on ‘reducing the amount of teacher talk’ and various in-house training and resources had been put in place to address this. However as SLT lead for T&L I wanted to shift the focus onto developing the independence of our students and enabling them to take more ownership of their learning. I was further inspired by Matthew Moore – an excellent member of the English faculty who had been successfully using students to lead parts of his lesson.
Together we decided to train up Year 7 students to be able to confidently lead a number of plenary activities. In doing so we wanted to develop their independence and confidence and highlight the importance of students leading their own learning. There was a desire to shift the focus from the teacher onto the student and encourage a more organic approach to the sharing of good practice across faculties.
So how does the project work?
In the Autumn term two Year 7 students from each tutor group are selected to receive a one hour training session
- In this training students receive coaching on: the purpose of a plenary is, how to lead three different types of plenary and tips on how to manage the class.
- They also watch an example of a student-led plenary on video and discuss questioning techniques
- Three quite common and relatively easy plenaries are used to begin with. They are: ‘Three in a row’, ‘Taboo’ and ‘True or False’.
- Each plenary has the same key elements: the learning objectives must be referred back to by the student leader at the start of the plenary and must remain the focus of the plenary and all students must take part.
- Each plenary leader aims to completes ten plenaries in their log books, in order to receive a Headteacher certificate. After each one, they receive brief written feedback from the teacher.
So what next?
We want to continue to develop the project with Year 7 students in 2014-5. Before we re-launch next academic year we want to get feedback from those involved in the pilot and use this to help review, evaluate and tweak the project. We are keen to video more students leading plenaries and use this to promote the programme further with staff and the rest of the student body. We also want to make more use of existing leaders by giving them opportunity to train other students to take on the role.
Watch this space!