Monday, 26 September 2016

What shall we do about behaviour?

I attended Chester university last week to work in collaboration on designing the BA QTS year 1 programme
The lecturers were fantastic, knew their effect sizes and research and were determined not to send out 'compliant' trainees

We got into the tricky area of behaviour management
The students are required, on their first day to collect the behaviour policy

'Why?' I asked 


'Well", said another member of the group (not Chester uni staff to be clear) "these children have to know the rules and if they break the rules, what the consequences are"

She then turned to me and said "and it's obvious by your face that you disagree!"

People who know me either in real life of virtually know I'm a bit obsessed with education, and particularly about research, evidence, impact and really making sure we are working with our learners and families to ensure success, whatever success looks like to them
This has led me to reading tonnes of stuff on Twitter. I did a quick trawl yesterday of school websites, particularly looking at trips (very much influenced by the fantastic trip to Poland by the wonderful Bader Primary)
It was so interesting that in nearly all schools, the first thing that was commented on was behaviour
Eg, class 1 had a great time at the zoo and were all so well behaved
Class 3 were very well behaved on the trip to the museum
Year 6 were very well behaved for our visitors today

When did we become so obsessed with producing 'well behaved' pupils?

At Ysgol Merllyn, we actively encourage challenge, debate, philosophical thinking, self regulation, self efficacy, independence, feistiness..., I could go on

We encourage spirit not crush it!

What are we doing to our kids? 

Sunday, 18 September 2016

A new year, time to cut the apron strings 🤔

Craig Parkinson has been as much part of our school improvement as any of the staff.

During Visible Learning training and meeting him at conferences, he has always been such a source of support, challenge and professionalism.
We were lucky, when dipping our toes into Singapore Maths, that Craig was also on hand as a new trainer for the fabulous @mathsnoproblem and on the 1st September he trained us all at Ysgol Merllyn how to begin delivering the programme. 

When we surveyed the children last year, we thought they enjoyed maths and had confidence- we were wrong, the higher up the school, the more the lack of confidence became evident.  They like it in the early years why then does that decrease as they get older? I think the answer is because we take their concrete objects away and expect them to do it abstract and ' in their heads' They then panic and they lose the pleasure of manipulating objects, shapes etc and increasing their understanding of maths concepts.

So we've gone Singapore which is really just using Bruner et al's model of concrete, pictorial, abstract.  So far so good- the first few days, the children played with the Dienes, multi link, counters, blocks, paper rectangles etc but slowly they have come to realise these objects mean something.  I also remind the teachers that we have upped the game because it's based on the English national curriculum which is pretty much a year ahead of the Welsh maths curriculum.  (Teacher estimates of achievement Effect Size 1.62 Hattie 2015) It'll be interesting in March time to see the impact when we survey the children again on their attitudes to maths.

I also accidentally stumbled on a precision learning and teaching and direct instruction training from Bangor University. It hooked me in immediately and a quick check on the effect size (feedback ES 0.73, direct instruction ES 0.59) made us think how we could use it to support learning.  We have now set up a Precision Learning Team (PLT) of year 6 pupils to help support with year 2 pupils. (Peer tutoring ES 0.55) We also discovered SAFMEDS (Same activity for a minute every day shuffle). It's worth googling

This year we've gone a bit Google mad.  We've been very lucky to work with JTRS to support our learners with Google Classroom.  The pupils absolutely love it.  They've gone collaboration mad (Classroom discussion ES 0.82) it's made my life so much easier.  Management was never my stronger skill set so all good.

So I think the direction we're now taking, after we leave the safety net of Craig Parkinson and Osiris Educational and have to do this ourselves, is to look to research.

We'll ask ourselves.....

What does the research say?
What will be the impact?
How will we measure OUR impact?
What will be our learners' needs?
What will be our teachers' needs?
Who is out there that has the expertise and experience to help us?
How will we celebrate success?
What will we do when we struggle?

Interesting times ahead at Ysgol Merllyn but we live by our motto

Making a Difference Every Day 😊