My pupils are not the only learners in the classroom. As an NQT, and indeed as a teacher in general, I am also learning each and every day I go to work.
Despite the fact I am always discussing the children’s learning goals with them, I recently realised I rarely explicitly model my own approach to reaching targets I have set myself or that have been set by others. So, how can I possibly expect my pupils to really consider their own strategies?
I was mulling over this particular notion the other day whilst staring at a blank display board I didn’t quite know what to do with. That’s when I decided to create a Teacher’s Target board where I would track the progress of a goal the children set me.
Up until May half term, my focus is on planning lessons that provide engaging outdoor activities. I identified this as a target following a circle time we had as a class, where the majority of pupils said they enjoyed learning outside. (To be honest, I felt guilty as I rarely orchestrate moments such as these.) As the weather is getting more pleasant, the children are even more keen to take their learning outside and I am more than happy to oblige – they seem so much more engaged when they’re out in the fresh air.
The concept is simple. Whenever I organise an outdoor learning activity, I will take a photo and then put it up on the display board to not only allow myself to see the progress of my target but for the children to recognise this too. It looks quite bare at the moment but I will remind myself and the children that targets should not be completed instantly; there must be an element of struggle and challenge for it to be a truly worthwhile goal to aspire towards.
I will also discuss how I managed to achieve the goal in particular lessons, for example: “We were very lucky to have an extra pair of hands this lesson, so instead of having small adult-lead groups working in the classroom, I thought it would be good to get out and about. We were looking at expanded noun phrases and I wondered how I could organise an outside activity for this objective. I mind mapped some thoughts and realised your descriptions would be far more powerful if you could go around the school and interact with the nouns you wanted to describe.”
I’m hoping to ask the children to set me another learning goal for the second half of the summer term. I will make sure it is a target that will not only benefit the children but also my own professional development.
Fingers crossed that this will help my pupils decide learning goals, identify steps to success and recognise progress for themselves. It is also rather rewarding for myself as I can see a visual representation of progress towards a particular goal. As a teacher, it’s all too easy to get swept up in the day-to-day chores of teaching and fail to recognise the progress that is occurring both for pupils and for yourself.