Sunday 21 April 2013

#blogsync April: 'Progress in my classroom? How is it made and how I know it'

Here is my likely short two pennies worth for #blogsync April. That said my SEN ally @cherrylkd has contributed a brilliant post so I would like to discuss the state of play r.e. progress for BESD students. Please read her post and all the others here at

As you are probably well aware by now I teach BESD boys. Boys that are by no means fact many are very clever at 'not participating in their education' and I spend hours of my time wishing they would put more of their brain power into their education! A pipe dream sometimes!

Anyway, progress.
Well personally I take a very individual approach to this, having got to know these boys very well I have a pretty good idea of the sort of progress I should be seeing from each of them each lesson or over a topic. It is by no means the same and much of it verbal. This is where differentiation is king, not only in terms of work, activities etc but also in terms of behaviour management. How I deal with or speak to one child may be totally different to how I deal with another.  Expectations are high, but grounded in the relationships we have with the boys as individuals.

The boys, they understand this and many want to achieve but lack the confidence in themselves.  One of the best things we can do is build confidence in their ability to learn. It takes time.

So a typical lesson looks something like this. For the record that is 45 minutes.

Through the door activities for those that are on time - key language, anagrams, word games. All of definite benefit to the boys in terms of their understanding of key scientific terms but allows for late comers which is very common, science is not a favourite subject for many!

Quick Starter to introduce the lesson and the objectives in an 'All, Most and Some' format.

Main Activities - practical or demo based when it can be, lots of focus on language/reading and writing too. In a context where I can to aid understanding. Myself and my LSA moving between the students making sure they are working well at the level we expect them to be and supporting them as is needed. The main problem we face day to day is all the work avoidence tactics the boys employ. All the swearing, aggression, walking out etc etc we face is down to their poor relationship with school which is what as a school we are trying to change. The atmosphere is very positive and always looking at the good things they have done in the lesson both subject related and 'social skill' related. One of the things I am working hard on at the moment is encouraging team's a long hard road!

Plenary - to check understanding of all, usually I use questioning both open and closed as the group sizes are small as this is easier. I have tried peer assessment but many are not 'ready' for the responsibility yet. I also talk about what comes next as many of our ASD students like to know what to expect in the future. Then we go through their points for the lesson and reflect both on learning and behaviour.

It's quite a squeeze!

In terms of progress overall the evidence is there, in their work, in their attitude to the subject and in their use of scientific language. It's just the timescales are much bigger. Mainstream colleagues may look at progress in a lesson or a topic, I look at progress over a term, or a year, or in the case of some over 2-3 years. I'm not a fan of data being used to 'beat teachers over the head with' but over years it speaks for itself.

 I'm not sure how much anyone can take from this post, but I guess it is a snapshot of what I do.

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