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Tips for Teachers newsletter #14
Responsive teaching, finding the right tool & Jo Morgan
Hello, and welcome to the Tips for Teachers newsletter. For over 400 ideas to try out the very next time you step into the classroom, check out my Tips for Teacher book.
💡 A quick tip to try in class this week 💡
A hallmark of a good teacher is that they are responsive to the needs of their students. But what does responsive teaching actually look like in the classroom?
I think it is useful to break it down into a four step process:
1. Check for understanding
To get a sense of what your students know and don't know, we need to check. Ideally that check should involve a tool of mass participation, such as mini-whiteboards or ABCD cards, so we get a more reliable check for understanding than if we are only hearing from one or two students.
2. Teacher response
Following the check for understanding, we need to respond in some way. If understanding seems secure, we may choose to move on. If understanding is mixed, we may call upon a selection of students (both those that are correct and incorrect) to share their reasoning. We may instigate a paired discussion so students can hear a different view point. Or we may choose to take the lead by providing an explanation as to the right answer.
3. Do a second check for understanding
If our responsive teaching process stops there, how do we know our students have really understood? Sure, we may think they have (and our students may think they have), but we need evidence. Hence, we need a second check for understanding. In maths this is likely to involve a question with a similar structure as the first, but with different numbers or operations. How our students do will provides us with more evidence in the moment that our response was effective.
4. Schedule in a further check in a retrieval opportunity
Just because somebody seems to understand something in the moments following an explanation does not mean they will understand it next lesson or next week. This is particularly the case if our initial check for understanding revealed widespread misunderstanding in the class. Therefore, it is a good idea to include a subsequent check for understanding in a retrieval opportunity in the future. This may mean including a question in an upcoming homework, Do Now or Low-Stakes Quiz. If that goes well, then you can be more confident your responsive teaching process has been effective.
What would you need to change to make this tip work for you?
When could you try it for the first time?
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📺 A video to discuss with a colleague 📺
Harry Fletcher-Wood explains why we need to ensure we choose the right tools to tell us what is really happening in our classrooms.
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👂 A podcast episode to listen to on your way home 👂
Maths teacher, Jo Morgan, shares her five tips:
Model techniques live
Make sure students know whether they are right or wrong, and don’t wait until it’s too late
Use calculators with students from the earliest opportunity
Use visual aids, including props and online tools to bring explanations alive
Don’t forget the respond part of responsive teaching
Listen to the podcast here.
😎 Final bits and bobs 😎
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