Friday, 2 January 2015

Verbal Feedback - in practice

I don't read dirty books 

I wanted to really keep up to date with my blog, however as other things go in the way it kind of fell by the wayside and I got out of the routine of updating it with anything of worth.  New year and all that though so I thought I would give it a whirl again! lets see how it goes. 

This year I have really tried to develop my practice as a middle leader, being a teaching leader fellow this has helped me to reflect upon my work as a middle leader but I also wanted to develop my practice in the classroom as I believe that teaching and learning is the ‘bread and butter’ of our job and this underpins everything.  Being a teaching leader fellow involved an intensive week long residential focused around developing an impact initiative part of this training was an in-depth look at the Education Endowment Foundations toolkit, this identifies studies that have found improvements in ‘narrowing the attainment gap’.   I was intrigued straight away at the ‘months gain’ verbal feedback offered students and I wanted to explore this further.
Time management
This was my biggest fear/ concern of this academic year.  I teach three subjects (One of them new this year) as well as my middle leadership responsibility as a head of year.  I was worried that making big changes to my practice would only lead to me being stretched further and it actually being detrimental to the student in my classes.  However I saw a way in which I could develop verbal feedback and it be a tweak to my practice rather than a big change.

After listening to @Martin_Clee during one of the Barnsley teachmeets I immediately saw an opportunity to combine this with verbal feedback.  DIRT – Dedicated improvement and reflection time, can be used to give students specific areas of improvement and the time to actually make the improvements suggested after marking.  This then dovetailed well with my schools marking policy (Praise, Action, Response and Check) When marking work I would give students specific ways to improve their work and highlight areas that could lead to them stretching themselves to really deepen their understanding. 
DIRT lessons
The lesson immediately after I have marked a piece of work would be a DIRT lesson.  Students would have feedback on their work and specific, personalised and tailored actions set which they would them work on independently throughout the lesson.  I then focused my time on speaking to each student individually about their work rate, habits, things they are doing well, ways to improve. All of this things I was previously trying to put in w when marking their books.  This made students engage with their work and really take ownership of it. Students responded in many ways some students had tears in their eyes as they were proud of their work other responded with setting themselves challenging targets to improve, One student came to speak to me two days later and asked if he could re-do his work.  I said that of course he can however it wouldn't alter his grade.   I believe this is the right course of action because I know that next time is will make the changes we spoke about before he hands it in to me. 

Has it helped?

I believe that building a DIRT lesson into my SOW has helped to give students the chance to reflect on their work, work independently and speak to me (by me, I obviously mean A TEACHER, im not so egotistical that I believe it is a benefit to speak to me!!).
It has also helped with my time management – my marking has become focused and a know that some things I will discuss with the student whilst some aspect would be part of the action points wrote in there books.

Did I bottle it?

We had a section 5 inspection during December, one of the lessons during the two days involved a DIRT lesson, however I chose not to have a lesson in this way.  I believed that fear was the biggest factor in this as I thought that the HMI might not has grasped it, or not liked it Do observer project their favored learning styles? So I thought I had bottled it.  However I believed that quality of teaching would not have been evidenced for an observation even though student achievement would have been.  I then read @LearningSpy ‘s blog on this subject and he put forward the notion that if quality of teaching as a factor was taken away then this problem would not be an issue.  A DIRT lesson is not a ‘bells and whistles’ lesson and very much the guide on the side rather than the sage on the stage, and why shouldn't it be?

Time spend marking their books was minimal in comparison to time spend responding to the actions, who was working harder? Me speaking to each student whilst sat down or student engaged in a personalised task for an hour?   I firmly believe students should be working harder because learning is hard.  Thank you for reading; hopefully I will keep this up this year!!

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