When do you teach better lessons?
Imagine if someone in your school provided you with an analysis of what lessons worked best at various times of the day and week …
Better or worse?
I always knew I was a poorer teacher on a Monday. Perhaps it was the late nights at the weekend or a difficult class?
By the time I reached the end of the week, I was exhausted, and although happier, it showed in my teaching. I was knackered, but highly productive.
I’ve always wondered if there was scope for teachers to work at different times of the day. We are a generation away from a more flexible system, where secondary students arrive at school later and study into the early evening, with teachers who work the same hours alongside them.
The school time of day…
In a research-informed era, more teachers will be keen to learn more about the evidence on teaching (outcomes) and time of day. School and college leaders who write timetables will know that it does.
The differences between lessons at the start of the week, compared to the end of the week, can be stark. For example, behaviour and uniform. The same can be said with evaluating lessons in observation, and I do wonder if an Ofsted analysis would throw up more successful inspections on one day than any other…
To illustrate the point, thirty years ago, teachers could ‘go to the pub’ for Friday lunch – with no fear of retribution – and then go on to teach period 5.
Twenty years ago, I remember heading off to the local ‘bowling alley’ with colleagues to escort 90+ students for (non-core) physical education. On paper registers, we’d log the twenty or 30 kids who bothered to turn up. There were no consequences, and it was dire.
Just ten years ago in 2012, the students I used to lead in a large secondary school in Tottenham were knuckling down to a range of lessons – even after ‘fish and chips Friday.’
Teaching and learning rigour was on the up!
Fast-forward ten years, and although there will still be some ‘fish and chips’ menus being served driving student behaviour doolally, effective teaching and learning is happening more in all our schools on a Monday morning and on a Friday afternoon – apart from the ones who close early for CPD or to balance the budget!
A research call?
I’d been keen to know if there is anyone who is conducting a small-scale, action research project on the differences between pupil outcomes, in your school, various lesson subjects and time of the day.
Wouldn’t that be a fantastic research-appraisal project?
To help you get started, I’ve drafted a potential outline for you to grab!
Research proposal: Are Monday lessons weaker in your school?
In this case study, we explore the differences between lessons taught at different times of the week.
The sample is based on X number of lessons in year X over a X month period.
The first sample of lessons explore the differences between the start of the week and the end of the week.
The second sample looks at the differences between Friday lessons and the other lessons of the week.
The third sample of lessons taught explores the relationship between time of day and learning outcomes.
We define outcomes in accordance with our school priorities as (example) listed below:
- To improve attendance above 95 per cent
- To reduce internal school exclusions in X subject
- To improve the number of pupils completing X course
So, what does the research say?
The rest is up to you. The next challenge is what to do with this information?
Quality, not quantity of lesson time is what matters. However, here is an opportunity for school teachers to learn what works better in their context …