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Tips for Teachers newsletter #28
Model in real-time, depressurise learning & Sarah Donarski
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 💡
I think a lot about modelling and worked examples. Ever since I started experimenting with my Silent Teacher approach almost a decade ago, the modelling phase of a lesson has been the one that interests me the most. It is students’ first experience of a new idea, and the first experience of anything is significant. I discuss my current thinking and experimenting on worked examples with Ollie Lovell in the third of our Tools and Tips for Teachers monthly collaborations.
Here I want to reflect on a mistake I have still been making after all these years: students never get to see me perform a procedure in real-time.
During Silent Teacher I deliberately go slowly, pausing at critical points to give my students an opportunity to consider what I have just done, and what I might do next. During the We Do part of the process, I ask my students to write the next line of working on their mini-whiteboards, hover when ready, and show me in 3, 2, 1… We do this for each line of working, which of course slows things down. Finally, in the You Do part of the process, students work through a problem on their own.
Because students never get to see me perform a procedure in real-time, a 20-second procedure actually comes across as a 2-minute procedure. I think there are two problems with this:
Performing a procedure slowly and methodically may give the impression that it is harder than it actually is, which may put off some students.
By performing a procedure slowly and methodically, students may never develop the fluency and automaticity necessary to free up attention to use that skill to solve more complex problems
Now, none of this is to say we should rush through the modelling phase. Of course, it is crucial we slow down and draw students’ attention to critical parts of the process. But, I think we should also make time to show students what the process looks like from start to finish when a relative expert does it. For me, this comes after Silent Teacher and the subsequent reflection, but before the We Do: “Now we have thought hard about this, let’s watch it play out in real time”. This shows our students what they can aspire towards.
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 📺
Teacher and author, Chris Such, explains why and how we need to reduce the pressure on our learners
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👂 A podcast episode to listen to on your way home 👂
Teacher and author, Sarah Donarski, shares her five tips:
Know how to effectively assess
Choose the right feedback type
Be aware of student bias
Use, where possible, dialogic teaching
Ignite the CPD culture
Listen to the podcast here.
😎 Final bits and bobs 😎
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