How do teachers attend to the small student details as well as keep in mind the ‘bigger picture’?
Goal setting has a significant impact on outcomes, which is why it is essential for teachers to be ‘clear and precise’ about learning intentions.
The bigger picture
If we imagine a map that is directing you where to go, with countless options ahead of you informing how you might get there; it is vital to have the ‘bigger picture’ in place as part of your curriculum and assessment approach.
My initial research on teacher autonomy will come as no surprise for teachers: that most classroom teachers only look forward to the ‘end of the week’ as a methodology for planning. Through no fault of their own, they cannot view much further ahead than this, simply because they are consumed with hourly lessons and day-to-day workload.
Compare this to the working life of a middle or school leader who may teach fewer lessons, perhaps have more teaching experience and established resources and routines. It is easier to view the ‘term ahead’ or the ‘academic year’. Key stage overviews and curriculum plans become clear and thoughtful, adapting to weekly changes.
From an experienced teacher’s perspective, the bigger picture is easier to see …
Start with the end outcome …
Teachers are time poor and in constant conflict between what they would like to teach, what they have to teach and the accountability that comes with the latter. Nevertheless, if teachers start everything they do with the ‘end outcome’ in mind, we can put ourselves in a stronger position. This will lead to smarter assessment, reduced workload and better outcomes for the students.
Before a teacher sets an assessment and then sits down to assess it, new teachers should first consider where they are in the curriculum and the purpose of setting and providing feedback on a specific piece of work. This may not be obvious (at first) when writing your first scheme of work …
Strategies worth considering …
For teachers to have a secure overview of the curriculum, it is essential that you know the starting points of all your students and the expectations for each of them. When you have a good grasp of who your students are and the logistics of your classroom (E.g. layout, resources available etc) and at ‘what point in the academic year’ you are reflecting on, here are some other worthwhile strategies.
- Step 1: Consider prior attainment and results, literacy, SEND, EAL, pupil premium and ethnicity groups
- Step 2: Consider where students are in your course; their strengths and weaknesses, classroom resources, tracking tools and interventions
- Step 3: Consider behaviour, attendance and any pastoral issues, any safeguarding concerns as well as a student’s likes and interests.
When using a wide variety of sources, it’s worth knowing if the ‘data’ is reliable and understanding what to do with all of the information.
It is vital to have this ‘bigger picture’ in place as part of curriculum planning and assessment, not only so that students understand where they are going, but so teachers have a secure grasp of what needs to be taught and assessed.