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Stories of change - moving from '3' to '2'

This page has been archived. The content was correct at the time of original publication, but is no longer updated.
Created on 23 November 2009 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 07 April 2010 by ncetm_administrator

Case Study C:
I’m pretty good at producing data summaries for SLT but I struggled with the issue of how to use other sources of evidence to inform my development plan. My gut reaction was that pupils’ experiences were too dependent on which teacher they got. My only hard evidence for this was the number of pupils who got sent to me to be reprimanded from different teachers. I was keen to collect evidence which would help form a departmental approach to improvement without feeling threatening towards colleagues. I decided to use an extract from the Ofsted publication Mathematics: understanding the score. Although the source didn’t sound a popular choice, at least it was from outside the department. My first step was to discuss this idea with my line manager before using it as the basis for discussion at a departmental meeting. My focus for the meeting was to ask teachers to try to sum up the differences between ‘satisfactory’ and ‘good’ under the four headings:

  • Meeting needs and addressing misconceptions;
  • Understanding concepts and explaining reasoning;
  • Involving pupils;
  • Developing independence in learning and assessment. 

The outcomes are summarised below:

  Good Satisfactory
Needs aware of all, flexible and gives feedback delivers the lesson but does not respond to students
Understanding work for understanding teach techniques rather than understanding
Involvement valued, engaged activity too much teacher-led, less engagement
Independence in learning and assessment most of the above tick boxes and jump through hoops

The next step was to draw up a timetable of lesson observations, making it clear that this was not part of performance management (unless staff requested that it be so). I had to get his plan cleared by my line manager so that I could be covered for some of the sessions.
After observing every member of the department, I used the ‘Satisfactory to Good’ grid to feedback to the department. I continually tried to cite ‘good’ examples and reference these to lessons (teachers could identify themselves but didn’t mind because it was ‘good’). Instead of giving ‘satisfactory’ examples, I simply asked where were the gaps or shortage of evidence in the ‘good’ column? Although there were several gaps, ‘non-routine problems’ and the ‘use of teaching assistants’ were consistent gaps. Since the presence of TAs was not relevant to all, non-routine problems was agreed to be the priority for improvement over the rest of the year.   The department agreed that lesson observations in the summer terms should focus on this area only. 
Since going through this process, it is noticeable how teachers are actually talking more and sharing ideas about ‘non-routine problems’.

Case Study D:
I was having difficulty in getting members of my department to sign up to my priorities for improvement. Last year I spent ages writing the improvement plan during the summer holiday. In our departmental meeting on the first day of term in September, we spend 20 minutes talking through the plan – in retrospect, this was not long enough but if I was worried that too much talk would result in me having to re-write the document. This year I was keen to involve the department in the evolution of the improvement plan before putting pen to paper (or typing). 
I devoted a departmental meeting in December to a work scrutiny exercise. I asked every member of the department to bring at least two exercise books from their Y9 class (Y8 if they didn’t teach Y9). The aim of the task was to look through the books of a colleague and identify curricula strengths and weaknesses (I waited till December to ensure that there was enough evidence). There was a lot of discussion concerning what constitutes good evidence. Very quickly, a picture emerged of a lack of problem solving or activities which lasted for more than two minutes! If I’m honest, I knew this to be true but felt that it was important to involve the team in the realisation.
Most important of all, the department was asked to agree its own success criteria for improving the problem solving skills of pupils. They had to be specific about what they would expect to see in a classroom if problem solving skills were being taught, used, or promoted. These were added to the departmental development plan and submitted to SLT. 

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