I was in Stoneyhill Primary School this morning and spent most of my time in three P1/2 classes.
My point of focus was on how teachers engage children in active learning whilst ensuring that high quality learning is taking place. The concern with Active Learning can sometimes be that there is lots of activity but little actual learning – especially when you look at the the quality of work being produced by the children.
What was obvious this morning was that the teachers – about whom more later – were obviously using Active Learning to good effect and to the benefit of the children. The key to their success was the level of individual dialogue, observation and focussed work with with each child in the class – it’s the interaction with the children that allows the teacher to judge if the child is understanding and help shape next steps; observation reinforces this awareness and focussed work on specific aspects of the curriculum ensures that quality work is being produced.
I was amazed by the standard of work being produced in each of the classrooms – the question was why? Such consistency does not happen by accident. The use of joint planning, common principles, classroom observation by management and a very positive “teacher” learning ethos in the school undoubtedly help to promote such consistency.
This consistency is all the more remarkable when you consider the range of experience of the three teachers – Emily has taught for ten years, Astrid has been teaching for five years, having previously had another career, and Karen is a Newly Qualified Teacher – every one of them being a great advert for the teaching profession.
As to the standard – I saw work being produced which would not look out of place in classes where children were two or three years older – Active Learning? – yes please.
Oh – mustn ‘t forget the P3’s – keep up the good work Lawrie and Daniel – you are lucky to be in such a great class.