Defending your case ! – What to do when you come under-fire…

Just recently I’ve seen ever increasing numbers of people proclaiming that despite enjoying  great success at exploring a more child led approach ,SLT or ‘Advisers’ county or otherwise, have asked for a more formal structure to be reintroduced.

A lot of this follows on from the publication of Bold Beginnings by the government; which unfortunately is being taken out of context by a lot of senior managers.

Bums On Seats

I believe this is due to a lack of understanding about how children learn and also about not knowing what learning can look like. In KS 2 and beyond bums on seats, quiet classrooms have long been held in high regard.

Whilst more recently it has been refreshing to see a more creative back lash : schools including my own, looking into growth mindset and ways of learning collaboratively.

The lessons still look familiar to the observer – Teacher talks ( teaches) – children go to desks – children learn – teacher reviews – end lesson ! Easy peasy to assess . Add in mini plenaries, mixed ability grouping , talk partners, assessment for learning techniques, challenges etc for spice even forest schools once a week !

Observing Free Flow

But what about when the learning is happening without a teacher present in a free flow situation, what if children are in engaged in a variety of different learning opportunities? Am I observing Maths/ English or something else?

What do we look for when a teacher or TA watches and then only questions the child ? They haven’t taught them anything?they are just playing!  How can I tick my boxes?

I believe these are the silent questions whizzing around the heads of the SLT or Observers. I know I was one of them!!

It took time and research for me to understand how powerful a child led approach can be, how important play is to learning, and to let go of complete control!

What to say…

So if asked to change, smile and say

” I can if you want- it would be easier for me to teach that way. A lot less thought and energy has to go into my day. The children’s learning will ‘ look’ a lot more familiar to you. BUT I know the children will make  less progress and learn less for the future. If you’d like me to continue to narrow the gap in children’s learning and meet their individual needs let me teach you about how children are learning and what to look out for …”

I know there are loads of wonderful leaders out there who already value the creativity and experience of their teams but if that’s not your experience at the moment hold on to what you know to be right and teach them!

In summary

  • Do your research- be ready with counter arguments.
  • Understand where they are coming from and help them understand what the learning looks like.
  • Be passionate , be resilient .

Remember :

“If you are not being challenged you might not be making a difference”

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