Who would want to be the first penguin to leap into the icy Antarctic waters? The first brave soul to do so risks unseen leopard seals and orca. However, without at least one penguin prepared to take that first plunge, they would all starve. So, the penguin community needs risk takers to survive and grow. Teachers are a bit like penguins. We need risk takers. We need to encourage risk taking. Otherwise, our practice stagnates, intractable problems remain unresolved and pupils’ experience is diminished.
In order to be a bit more penguin, all teachers at Sawston Village College undertake a Teaching Excellence Project, a research and investigation project designed to develop the practice of individual teachers, build the expertise of subject teams and enrich the learning of pupils across the school. The projects culminate in an annual celebration, when colleagues share their work and insights.
This year, the teachers who pushed themselves furthest from their comfort zones, who thought most radically about teaching and learning, were presented with the inaugural “Penguin Award” – the cuddly, foot high penguin is now taking pride of place in the lab of the science colleagues who explored the possibilities of flipped learning, producing a series of videos as they reimagined what homework is for and how it can be done.
This post gives just a taste of the inspiring, vibrant, thoughtful work that colleagues have produced. Subsequent posts offer some more specific examples of the work undertaken by Sawston teachers.
Neal Watkin, History SLE, has just published the first of a series of blogs that have emerged from his Teaching Excellence Project. All teachers at Sawston Village College undergo a personal research/investigation project that links to the school’s development priorities, their subject’s departmental development plan and their own professional interests. Neal has been focusing on how to differentiate most effectively and has come to the conclusion that we first need to decide what we are differentiating for; it is not enough simply to differentiate so that instructions for tasks are clearer. Neal also argues that in order to develop pupils’ written literacy, they must first develop their oral literacy. Read more at: http://www.eatsleepteach.com/2015/06/differentiation-part-one-the-power-of-talking-confidently/
Drawing on recent blog posts and controversial but thought provoking criticism of differentiation, a recent Teaching and Learning Briefing at Sawston Village College highlighted the debate and proposed an approach to differentiation that can work.
The attached PowerPoint offers a flavour of the discussion and provides some references for further investigation.
How do we help pupils to develop the confidence, resilience, determination and belief that they can make progress? Carol Dweck’s theory of Growth Mindset (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carol_Dweck) might provide an answer to this perennial question, and many schools are exploring, experimenting with and sometimes adopting wholesale her approaches.
Thursday 12th February saw colleagues from across Cambridgeshire and Suffolk primary and secondary schools gather at Sawston Village College (www.sawstonvc.org) for the CASSA (www.cassateaching.co.uk) R&D Teachmeet and Conference on the topic of Growth Mindset. The title of the event was “Exploring Growth Mindset”, providing an opportunity for colleagues to learn more about the theory and its potential implications for schools, teachers and pupils. (more…)