How Do I Teach You?

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John Dabell

I trained as a primary school teacher 25 years ago, starting my career in London and then I taught in a range of schools in the Midlands. In between teaching jobs, I worked as an Ofsted inspector (no hate mail please!), national in-service provider, project...
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Do your pupils tell you what a great job you are doing?

We are constantly assessing pupils but this is no one-way street – they are constantly assessing us too! However, do we ever stop and provide pupils with opportunities to tell us what they think about our teaching? How do we know what we are doing is effective and works? Do they really like doing ‘odd one out’ activities or Think, Pair, Share? Ask them!

Keep, Grow, Change

One idea worth implementing every term is ‘Keep, Grow, Change’ and it gives pupils a chance to feedback what they like, what they’d like to see more of and what they’d prefer to see the back of.

What to do

Give every pupil a piece of paper entitled ‘Tell Me More’ which is divided into three columns – Keep, Change, Grow.

Explain each of the headings:

1. Keep

What strategies, techniques and ideas do I use that you would like to keep on doing? Think about the things you have enjoyed doing e.g. concept cartoons, true-false statements, graphic organisers, KWHL grids, spidergrams, balloon debates, thought experiments etc.  What get’s the thumbs up?

2. Grow

Are there any particular things we do in class that you would like us to do more of or develop further? Think about certain activities or routines we have e.g. brain breaks, music, chunk and chew etc.

3. Change

Is there any teaching method I do use that you dislike? What gets the thumbs down? Is there something another teacher does that you’d like me to try?

Pupils write down their thoughts, feelings and suggestions in each of the columns. They can put their name to the feedback sheet or they can complete it anonymously.

Take It On The Chin

Some of the feedback you get will make you smile and make you realise a lot of what you do pupils enjoy.

There will also be things that might surprise you and make you think twice about doing. The feedback is extremely valuable because it enables you to make tweaks and revisions, take stock and think about what you can do differently, what you need to ditch and what you need to ‘steal’ from some of your colleagues.

‘Pupil voice’ and pupil feedback enables us to pause, evaluate, plan and make improvements. We aren’t asking pupils to grade us but we are actively seeking their experiences and opinions so that we can be get better at what we do, building on the strong stuff and waving goodbye to the things that don’t work. Without pupil input we think we know what’s working but we are either guessing or sticking with tried and tested techniques that might have actually expired. Together pupils and teachers make a high-performance team but only when fuelled by honesty and reflection.

(‘Keep, grow, change’ is an idea I have used and adapted from Jim Smith’s The Really Lazy Teacher’s Handbook)

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