We have a special responsibility to the children in our care to make sure that we give them every possible opportunity. We want to support them in every way that we can.
We want to be involved in a forward-thinking school where the needs of our young learners are the most important. This is is what makes our 2020 vision – our 5 year plan for the future.
We want Cullybackey College to be an inspirational place. We want people talking about what we are doing here. We want to see our learners being stimulated and challenged to be the best that they can be.
As teachers, we need to spend time developing our practice. We need to be working on how we can become better teachers. We should be thinking about how we prepare and provide AMAZING learning experiences so that we can become EXPERT teachers.
Shuan Allison and Andy Tharby have identified some of the key aspects of what makes Expert teaching.
We can also put this into a ‘Growth Mindset’ context – Carolw Dweck teamed up with RSA to create a powerful animation about ‘How to help every child fulfil their potential’.
This got me thinking about the different skills that we already have as teachers in the classroom – we create for ourselves a type of Teacher toolkit – but what are the different activities/ games/ tricks that we keep in there to use with learners to push them further and stimulate them? How can we shake up what and how we do teaching?
The Cullybackey Learning Cycle
The main difficulty in developing a new Learning and Teaching policy for a school is to make sure that this is a useable document and not just something that gets dusty in a drawer. We wanted to develop a tool that would infect all of our classroom practice. We wanted something that would be common to us all, using language that we would be able to transfer from one subject to the next, from one classroom to the next.
Much of the Learning and teaching policy has already been in the school for 10 years. We took it and have tweaked it a bit to fit with where we wanted to go. For example, in the past there has been a very important focus on independent learning.
As professional teachers there is an expectation that we will plan and use agreed schemes of work; that we would plan lesson carefully and that we would use daily planners and lesson plans to clearly sign post what we are trying to deliver.
There are lots of different barriers to learning and issues with timetabling – whether you have one period, a double, a triple or six in a row! Maybe your subject lends itself to 3 periods = 1 lesson or maybe you find that different phases add complications for your planning eg the differences between a Y8 lesson and a Y14 lesson.
We are convinced that organized lesson planning leads to very good lessons where students will be engaged and ready to learn. We want to see this tool embedded into departments over the next 5 years so that by 2020 – this is common and organic in all lessons and so that we don’t need to think about it!
We will use this format to help plan our lessons – we are already building on good practice in school, I have already seen different departments using variations of this tool - but we are now making sure that we develop our lesson planning in a consistent manner.
The key attribute in a CLC lesson should be diversity - we need to understand that a lesson should not be just ONE activity but it should be a number of interconnected opportunities for students to learn.