Monday, 27 October 2014

The power of humility

I had a class earlier this week that made me feel like I was a poor teacher.

It was a class where the intended learning outcome changed during the class.

It was a class where I was irritated and distracted by other things happening at school, and not focused on the class at hand, not present.

It was a class where I was snappy and authoritarian and nothing like the teacher I wanted to be.

It was also a class where I got to go back in and try again. I have a split double over recess, a period before and one after. My feelings of being out of touch with the class, having them frustrated, me disappointed and annoyed got put on pause at recess. I knew I had to re-group.

I went and had a break during recess, had some food, and then went back to the classroom early to prepare. Once the bell went and class began, I immediately took the students out of the classroom. We went to sit outside near the stadium and debrief the morning's class.

I sat them down and waited a minute as they gathered around. I spoke gently about why I had brought them out of class: namely that I was frustrated with how I had run the morning's class. I talked about how I was frustrated that this would for some of them, their last experience of formal science education. I talked about how I felt that my teaching in that class did not help them learn. I talked about how I felt unprepared for this class. I talked about how I felt that in not seeing them earlier in the week (a relief teacher had taken them for their introduction to new topic area) that their behaviour had changed. I asked if any of them had any questions or observations, and whether they felt that my analysis agreed with their own. I kept it relatively brief.

We headed back inside and resumed class. I felt clear on the intended learning outcome for my students, and made sure they knew what it was. Their behaviour was transformed. They were focused and attentive and self-regulating. I was relaxed, and able to teach for learning.

I had just witnessed the power of humility.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Do you have the HOTS for science? Part 3

Making change in teaching and assessment
In my role as Year 11 curriculum leader this year, one of the projects I am involved in was an action research project into developing higher order thinking skills and assessment tasks for the Year 11 science curricula. This post is part of a series (See Part 1 and Part 2)

Over the course of this project it has become clear that teachers at my school are not very clear on what higher order thinking skills in science look like. They are not clearly defined. Without this, it is difficult to teach and assess such skills.

This project has shifted from trying to directly change what is occurring in the science classroom, to developing teacher awareness of such skills.

So what are higher order thinking skills?
There is a vast literature around higher order skills, yet they are not adequately defined. What are the higher order thinking skills needed in the science classroom? What do they look like? If we are to assess them, what is the standard against which we are assessing?

I have developed the table below to provide answers to teachers who are looking to develop their pedagogical skills in science, particularly in knowing how to teach and assess some of the key higher order thinking skills (HOTs) in science.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Science Pedagogy at my school

I have been asked along with another colleague to develop a pedagogical model for science.

This is a presentation that I am giving tomorrow with said colleague on what we have come up with following quite a bit of research, professional reading, twitter conversations, LinkedIn dicussions, staff surveys and informal chats.

Any feedback would be gratefully received!