Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Guiding pupils to reflect on their progress

Teachers' Standard 2 requires you to guide pupils to reflect on the progress they have made and their emerging needs.

How can you do this?  You could get pupils to write reflectively, give them a reflective writing frame, or a questionnaire to complete.  But this will immediately exclude some pupils.  The requirement is not to guide only those pupils who can write reflectively to reflect.  This is all pupils.

To ensure this is an inclusive part of your practice this needs to be about thinking (reflecting) and speaking and listening.  There will be pupils in the class who are less confident about talking and some who are unable to speak in certain social situations.  You may work with pupils who have significant communications difficulties - the suggestions here will need further thinking, but guiding pupils to reflect remains an expectation: it's not acceptable to say "My pupils can't do that."  If you're working in a Nursery or Reception class there's no reason why pupils can't think about or articulate what they can and can't do, but you might need to adapt the language in the suggestions below.

For the substantial majority, talking is the most inclusive way for pupils to articulate their thinking.  Developing the role of reflective talk also a good way to establish a culture in your classroom that will prepare you well for observation (by tutors, mentors, school senior leaders, Ofsted inspectors).  Those who observe you teach will often talk to pupils about their learning, their progress and their learning needs.  Typically, observers will be drawn to the pupil/s in your class who you would least like them to be drawn to.  So equipping all pupils with the capacity to articulate their thinking isn't just about meeting the Standards.  It's about having successful observations.  And, most importantly, it's about pupil entitlement.

A useful way to think about how to do this is to start with the questions that pupils might be asked and then to think about the answers that you'd like to hear them come up with.  Here are some examples:

It's important to emphasise that these aren't responses that pupils can meaningfully learn by rote. You can't use My Turn/Your Turn as a strategy to embed reflection.  This is about creating a climate in your classroom in which pupils talk confidently about their progress and the barriers they encounter.  So it's not just about what happens in one lesson ("We did reflection on Tuesday morning"), this should be a part of all learning.  And you're not going to get this to happen overnight - so if Ofsted are visiting tomorrow and this isn't already part of your classroom climate, then it's too late.

So start now.  You could use the questions above as prompts.  Create enough space in your lessons for thinking and dialogue, and get pupils used to talking about what they can and can't do, and the progress they've made.

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