Saturday, 1 November 2014

Working with a group - what's your teaching role?

There's been some whole class input, perhaps, and now pupils are working in groups.  You're working with one of these groups.  What should you be doing?

Fundamentally you’re accountable for the pupils’ progress during this activity (TS2).  Note: the important thing isn’t that the pupils complete the activity they’ve been set – there's no Teachers' Standard that requires you to ensure that pupils complete activities.  The significant thing is that pupils make progress: by the end of a successful lesson pupils will have acquired something (a skill, knowledge, understanding) which they didn't have at the start.   If the activity is driven by the learning outcome then completion of the activity and making progress are one and the same thing.  But if the activity is just a filler - an apparently related task that pupils spend 20-25 minutes doing in the middle of the lesson that doesn’t in itself contribute to progress – then you'll need to adjust the activity as you teach it in order to secure progress (and then make sure that subsequent planned activities are intrinsically linked to pupil progress).  If you think your only role is to ensure task completion, you’re thinking of yourself as a task manager.  You’re not a task manager, you’re a teacher.  So teach.

Accurate and productive use of assessment is central to your teaching role (TS6).  Make sure that when you work with a group you have the means to record what you observe, and use this information to monitor progress, set targets, and plan subsequent lessons

The further suggestions below assume that the activity is fundamentally of  value, i.e. the activity contributes to pupil progress.  The character of each intervention (left-hand column) will depends on your personal approach, your choice of words, tone, gesture, balance of listening and talking, use of resources, etc. There are, for example, as many ways of making the activity more challenging as there are shades of grey.  The middle column links the intervention to the Teachers' Standards.  The right-hand column suggests a more pupil-centred approach to the intervention with a further asterisked link to the Teachers' Standards.

What if...

All the pupils know what’s required and are doing it or 

one/some/all of the pupils complete the task/activity very quickly?

One/some/all of the pupils don’t know what to do?

One/some/all of the pupils are disengaged?

There's insufficient time for one/some/all pupils to complete the activity?

The activity requires collaboration but the pupils aren’t collaborating?

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