Learning Spies – revisited

I am a great fan of David Didau’s blog ‘The Learning Spy’. He makes me think really hard often about things that I thought I had sorted. He has some great ideas for classroom management, team building and learning in general.
I first became a fan when I read his ‘So What Are Learning Spies?’ The title fascinated me because I had visions of Ofsted inspectors hiding in cupboards! I was nearly right as David says:-
A few years ago an Ofsted inspector told me I talked too much and that as a result the lesson that had been observed was ‘satisfactory’. I was gutted. I was also determined to do something about it.
The task of getting out of the way so that my students are free to learn for themselves has been challenging but also without doubt the best thing that has ever happened to me. As an educator I mean – obviously the birth of my children etc. was way cooler!
Following some training with Zoe Elder on Observing Learning, I began experimenting with the idea of observing students working in groups and noting down my observations without making any kind of judgement. Sounds pretty straightforward , but was (to me at least) a radical approach.
In the past I have approached group work as something which needed to involve me ‘sitting in’ on groups and making suggestions and pouncing on any off-task behaviour. It was pointed out that whenever I do this the students stop working as a group and all turn to look at me. Far from promoting effective group work, I was actually preventing it. Imagine my chagrin!
Hearing this forced me to take stock of my practice and consider how I could allow students to work together more naturally. I’m a big fan of a Critical Skills approach and this seemed like something that would fit in seamlessly.
Do go and read the rest of the article HERE because it will give practising teachers some good ideas for pupil engagement and ownership of their learning.

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