November 10th, 2014
Last week saw ETSA hold its second TeachMeet which proved just as successful as its first. Over 40 teachers from a number of schools were hosted by Northolt High School and 12 speakers contributed on our three key themes.
Theme 1 – Key Stage 5 Teaching & Learning Strategies
Four great speakers shared a whole host of innovative and useful strategies which encourage student engagement and provide opportunities for students to take greater control over their learning. There were ideas for teaching students how to structure essays and develop arguments which run throughout extended pieces of writing, which included activities involving coloured paper to help students visualise the links, to hiding sections of an essay all over the school!
We were also prompted to get the students to organise their own trips and visits to force them to really consider what learning they needed and how they were going to get it. It was also really interesting to hear about how some colleagues prepare students for HE with lecture-style lessons and tutorials. A key theme which emerged with this theme was the value of choice – empowering students to direct their own studies.
Theme 2 – Student-Led Learning
As you might expect, the presentations in this section had a lot in common with the previous but it was interesting to see how teachers adapt KS5 strategies for younger students. Again, an element of choice was key and there was also a real sense of fun in the approaches shared here. The use of music to represent instructions, an element of a mystery to be solved and the student as teacher were just a few of the imaginative strategies shared. Differentiation also emerged loud and clear as a significant benefit of more student-led learning; the approaches clearly allowed for different groups to be tasked with different areas of focus and also individuals within groups to be given different responsibilities to stretch and extend their learning. More than one presenter spoke of students helping other students to make progress and also of the student as teaching assistant or expert. It is clear that the learning these students are experiencing is deeper than might have been obtained through other types of extension. There were also some really creative ideas to engage reluctant speakers in group discussion involving string!
Theme 3 – Sharing Findings from Research
The final section of the evening saw three presentations from teachers engaged in research. It was fascinating to hear the outcomes of their research, but even more interesting in some ways was the process they had gone through. The speakers perfectly highlighted the cycle of reflection, adaptation, implementation, reflection. In a way, all those in attendance were carrying out their own research – finding out what others do in order to try it, adapt it and share it again. I know of a number of teachers who have already tried out some of the ideas they heard last week and I would bet this week’s supply of tea that they’ve already tweaked, adapted and added to it, to best suit their students.
An overwhelming sense of professional pride came across during the evening and it was great to see so many teachers from all stages in their career having such fun with their craft.