When studying classrooms where teaching is great and children make fantastic progress, what is absolutely striking is that teachers in those classrooms appear to have more time than other teachers. Time to spend in intense interaction with individuals and small groups, time when that intensive activity really moves children’s learning forward, in fact time in which they have space to teach. So what are the conditions those teachers create which gives them those opportunities to accelerate pupil progress?
In those classrooms you see both great routines and children with fantastic habits for learning. Routines are built upon the expectations individual teachers have of how learning is organised in that classroom. Habits are something developed over time, invariably part of a whole school approach to developing behaviours for learning. These habits come under various guises but invariably they include some consciousness development of both co-operative learning skills and the processes of self and peer review. So children become skilful at helping themselves and one another to learn.
There seem to be two other key factors which mean teachers not only feel less ‘stretched’ but great learning takes place. The first is that those teachers find a compelling context which give purpose to even the most mundane areas of learning children need to engage with. However, most significantly, right at the heart of their practice is that they know their children really well, where they are in their development and the next steps they need to take. This means that in those intense interactions they are absolutely focused upon the current needs of each of those children.
It’s possible for all teachers to create these conditions, a whole school approach to developing behaviours for learning is really helpful, but with thought and conscious design it’s possible to create these conditions in any classroom.