Starter for Five is a UK based advice blog for new teachers. You can find it on twitter here. Each post gives 5 quick pieces of advice on a particular topic for new teachers and trainees submitted by experienced teachers.
Name: Josie Mingay
Twitter name: @JAMingay
Subject taught (if applicable): English and Literacy
Position: Literacy leader / Lead Learner
What is your advice about? SEN at Secondary
1: No SEN label should cause you to lower your expectations of students. Do all you can to remove specific obstacles to learning in order for students to reach ambitious goals.
2: Be explicit about praising students for effort and hard work, rather than achievement. Students with SEN need to see that the journey to the destination is rewarded too.
3: Make use of your SENCo/Learning Support dept – a great resource, often with a wealth of knowledge. Utilise their expertise to aid your planning/teaching.
4: Talk to your students! More than any official document listing suggested strategies, students usually know their obstacles best and can tell you what support they need.
5: Model using metacognitive strategies. One of the best tools for students with SEN is the ability to think about their learning and select strategies to apply to given tasks.
If you have a topic you’d like to contribute advice about, click here.
Next Saturday, I will be one of a number of gathered teachers and researchers who share a common aim – hopeful that, through organic grass roots events like @researchED1, it might be possible to reduce the considerable chasm between educational research and classroom practice.
Attending this event for the first time last year, I was surprised by the number of delegates present who had sacrificed a day of their weekend to travel, ready to participate in the workshops on offer and be willing to engage in educational conversations with others there. It was refreshing to experience an approach to teaching and learning so rooted in research and, after a powerful day, I left feeling positively challenged.
That’s why this year I’m really pleased to have been invited to lead a workshop at the @researchED1 Literacy event on Saturday 7th November at Swindon Academy, run by event directors David Didau, Tom Bennett & Hélène O’Shea.
As Literacy Leader in my school, and also recently appointed as a Lead Learner in research too, I will be delivering a workshop on the importance of teaching vocabulary in order to enhance students’ understanding across the curriculum. Incidentally, the session itself is far more interesting than the somewhat tedious title I gave it: “Improving students’ understanding through direct vocabulary instruction”.
Many months ago on my blog, I wrote Part 1 of a 2-part post on the new vocabulary programme we were soon to implement in my school as a result of the research we had carried out called ‘Root Planner’. See here. It was always intended that the second part of the duo (‘Root Map’) would be published soon after, outlining the implementation of the programme. For a number of reasons this failed to transpire and, so, albeit a year later, I will be posting Part 2 of this post following my presentation next Saturday.
A great colleague of mine, Phil Stock, has shared the journey of this whole-school language intervention with me and has recently written about this on his blog here, following the presentation he gave at #TLT15 earlier in October.
I’m very much looking forward to the day; to hearing some super speakers, to reflecting on my own practice and to embracing the possibilities an event of this nature can bring to teaching and learning.
Hope to see you there!
A couple of weeks ago, the focus of our school INSET day was on Feedback. Phil Stock (@joeybagstock), our Assistant Headteacher of Professional Development and Language challenged us as a staff body to consider what we perceive to be the most effective method(s) of feedback, both within and outside the classroom. Following a hearty breakfast, we were gifted a rare hour of our time dedicated solely to reading. Phil had recommended a number of blog posts by a range of different writers within the educational sphere and encouraged us to choose a selection from the menu provided.
I suppose it was a bit of a risk to kick off a day of training with an hour of silence and solitude, but I loved it. If you’re any kind of educationalist who has spent some time in a school environment, you’ll know how incredibly rare it is to find time in the school day to make room for this kind of personal study. And yet, it’s possibly one of the most important things we really should be doing to develop our knowledge on key principles of teaching and learning. We were invited to read up to 5-6 blog posts or articles within the hour and then reunite later to share findings and consider the potential positive impact these ideas could have within our own classrooms.
The purpose of this post is simply to share my notes on the posts I read (and found to be very worthwhile), as well as offering a simple ‘Top 10’ list I wrote as a result, to share with members of staff I lead who teach lower set Y7 groups. These points are in no way exclusive to SEN, but have been designed around the effective strategies I know to work within my own intervention classroom.
Let’s build it in, not add it on: Andy Tharby (@atharby) wp.me/p43kJZ-lq
- Most useful feedback happens while students are working, not after
- Should be indistinguishable from other elements of a lesson such as explanation and questioning
- Feedback from and to students informs every decision we make
- A balance is required between the challenge of a high level of “correctness” without creation of a dependency culture
improving the basics: Tom Sherrington (@headguruteacher) http://wp.me/p2qGQb-15J
- Devote time to drafting and redrafting – Austin’s butterfly
- Maintain higher expectations, and praise for progress/achievement
- Students just need to know what the standards are and how to reach them
- Very much about shift of attitude
Making time for feedback: ASCD http://tinyurl.com/8jdyysv
- Work smarter, not harder
- Focus on errors, not mistakes
- We recognise simple mistakes by students when we know them – it shows as uncharacteristic
- Mistakes are ones we can correct using our knowledge
- Errors are ones we make because we do not possess the necessary knowledge to correct
- “Correcting errors typically results in new understanding and improved performance; moreover, once teachers implement this practice, students rarely make those errors again.”
- 4 main error categories:
- Factual errors
- Procedural errors
- Transformation errors – incorrect application to new situations
e.g. biology and bicycle – not knowing difference between bi and bio roots
- Misconception errors
- Should look for patterns in student errors to be able to target specific areas rather than reteach a whole concept or unit
- Distinguish between global and targeted errors
- Use prompts and cues to shift the learner’s attention
Have we got feedback backwards?: Alex Quigley (@HuntingEnglish) http://tinyurl.com/oos78r4
- Time spent on marking isn’t equal to the impact it has on learning – onus is on the teacher in this model, not student
- DIRT – Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time – onus moves to student to reflect and respond to feedback, making changes to their work
- More time spent responding to feedback that marking
- Feedback vs. feeding forward – should impact future learning
- Symbols, not comments
- Dot round to signal error but student must work it out
- Assess in colour – colour code
- Self assessment before teacher assessment
- One to one
- Active process – oral feedback just as effective
Improving peer feedback with gallery critique: David Didau (@LearningSpy) http://tinyurl.com/pttamzl
I didn’t make notes on this as I had already read it extensively for a workshop I had previously led on peer assessment, but I would highly recommend it.
As a result of these brilliant, really gritty, content-packed pieces of writing, I was able to draw ten key points from these to share with colleagues.
For me, the most successful methods of feedback I’ve seen to have the most positive impact in the classroom are those listed below. One beautiful thing about teaching intervention groups is the way in which it is possible for me to reach every student within one lesson. To have the opportunity to get round to each of them and offer targeted, one to one support with their work right there and then is invaluable in their learning journey. It is wholly possible to apply many of these below to the mainstream classroom, though as with most pedagogical approaches, it would take some thought around how to implement them.
EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK: My ‘Top 10’
- Effective feedback often happens most DURING lessons, not after
- LA sets will not benefit from long streams of marked written comments
- Symbols over work, work best – be careful not to give them the answer
- Concentrate on errors, not Remember:
A mistake = incorrect due to tiredness/one-off mistake that can be corrected with own knowledge
An error = a common pattern of errors made due to the learner not possessing the knowledge to correct themselves
- DIRT (Dedicated Improvement & Reflection Time) – Build time into lessons for valuable drafting & redrafting focus sessions
- Model high quality work – show outstanding examples and feedback as a group
- 1:1 conversations – be specific, giving high quality feedback
- Self-efficacy (praise of tasks/achievement) vs. self-confidence (praise of ego) – see Dylan Wiliam: http://www.journeytoexcellence.org.uk/videos/expertspeakers/selfefficacydylanwiliam.asp
- Make peer/self- assessment valuable … model what effective feedback looks like
- Maintain highest expectations and don’t accept less than their best