Headteacher, Steve Rees, couldn’t wait to model the glasses made by the Year 1 children in Evenlode Primary. The children were quick to remind everyone that the glasses were made for the Giant in ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’, so, unfortunately for Steve, he was not allowed to keep them!
During the past year, we have supported CPD in the school in a variety of ways: designing and delivering training, co-planning, co-teaching and co-learning alongside the staff and children. We have always received a warm welcome, along with an enthusiasm to discuss learning and explore methods of implementation. (On this visit, a Year 1 child asked why I had a visitor’s badge, commenting ‘You are not really a visitor anymore, are you?’).
Last week, it was ‘embedded CPD’ in the Year 1 classes. Picture the scene…friday, rain, Christmas concerts looming…yet all the children and staff were ‘up’ for planning and leading a collaborative, problem-based learning session! Emma and Andrea, the Year 1 teachers, had already enlisted the support of family members and produced a DVD that would arrive in school for the children. It contained an ‘Oscar’-winning performance of the Giant’s wife (from Jack and the Beanstalk) insisting that Jack and his friends (the children in the class) design and make a new pair of glasses for the Giant. The reason for this – Jack had stolen the GOLDEN HEN and now the giants were too poor to go and get his glasses repaired! And we all know what a grumpy giant is like!
The children rose to the challenge and worked in groups of 3, each taking on team roles and responsibility for completing the product within the allocated time frame. A ‘quality checklist’ supplied by the giant helped to ensure the product met the requirements. Although one reflective thought from a child was, ‘Next time, maybe we will look at what we have to do and choose which will take the longest and do that first…rather than leave it ‘til last and run out of time…especially if it is an important bit!’. I think many adults can also learn from this reflection too!
Whilst the children tackled the task independently and interdependently, the staff had an opportunity to engage in authentic AfL – what did the learning actually look like and sound like? Digital cameras and Flipcams were used. Notes were taken, ready to feedback to the children in order to move the learning process forward through shared reflection and negotiation.
And the final ‘wow’…the staff also agreed to ‘walk the talk’ and operate an ‘indivisibility of principles’ approach. Observational notes were taken on the whole learning process – with no judgements made. Just what was seen and heard within that learning environment (both from the adults and children). It formed a basis to open up a reflective dialogue about learning and teaching. Embedded CPD supported by peer coaching and mentoring.
(And, if we are thinking about curriculum and standards, mapping this back into the curriculum caused some problems as it ‘hit’ so many of the requirements in so many areas! A well-designed task can not only be a vehicle for curriculum requirements, it can also be fun, engaging, motivating and offer those moments of true inspiration and entrepreneurial thinking!)
A big thank you to all the staff and children at Evenlode Primary.