This year, our collective focus in regards to teaching and learning centers upon the embedding of our whole school ‘lesson culture’ - indeed, this is our number one school development priority. By July 2024, our objective is to have obtained a substantial body of evidence which proves our desired lesson culture is being consistently applied across all key stages. The information below provides details of what the Gildredge House lesson culture is, and how we are intending on embedding it.
The Gildredge House 5
Our lesson culture reflects a number of teaching and learning essentials which collectively form The Gildredge House 5. We believe that consistent implementation of these essentials increases the probability of our students making the progress they are capable of. The essentials of The Gildredge House 5 are as follows:
- Students should be set challenging work that results in deep thinking.
- The skill of an effective teacher is to push all students just far enough so they are engaged in healthy struggle and then be responsive to support students where necessary.
- Teachers achieve this aim by having a thorough understanding of the curriculum they are teaching, and in-depth knowledge of the needs of the students they are teaching.
- Teachers should attempt to link explanations to something students already know. This helps students transform abstract ideas into more concrete ones.
- Explanations should be broken down into manageable chunks to avoid overloading working memory.
- Our teachers should establish the level of student understanding before initiating explanations and prepare in advance for any common misconceptions or errors.
- Teachers should tell stories that appeal to emotions, focusing on conflicts and how they are overcome. Analogies and metaphors are powerful and provide a bridge between current knowledge and material to be learnt.
- Teachers should model intended outcomes before students engage in deliberate practice. Modelling allows students to observe common misconceptions and appreciate what success looks like.
- Modelling is most effective when delivered in small step-by-step blocks using worked examples.
- Teachers should live model during lessons whilst simultaneously thinking aloud. This enables teachers to reveal and externalise their thought processes.
- Questioning serves to test, deepen and develop one’s understanding of a new concept and create a classroom culture of rich discussion.
- Teachers should ensure students engage in cognitive work by using probing questions, involving everyone through cold calling, multiple choice questions, and orchestrating discussion to check for understanding.
- Teachers should combine open and closed questions and provide students with adequate thinking time before sampling or randomising responses.
- Teachers must provide precise and timely feedback. This is a reciprocal process.
- Feedback can be verbal, written, given by peers or self-generated.
- After feedback has been issued, teachers should provide students with actions and dedicated time to edit and improve their work.
In addition to The Gildredge House 5 essentials, teachers are also focusing on embedding a range of teaching and learning strategies which align with our lesson culture.
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All Teachers and Teaching Assistants have been issued with a Learning File. Our expectation is that the file is accessible and referred to during lessons. Learning Files contain key details of the students, including:
- Seating plans, which indicate specific student cohorts e.g. SEND, Pupil Premium, EAL.
- Class data, for example, SAT/CAT prior attainment grouping, reading age.
- Pupil Profiles, which inform the teacher of adaptations which should be in place to support students in their lesson.
- Programmes of study, indicating what the class should be learning.
Easy access to this data improves the teacher's ability to appropriately support the students in their lessons. Colleagues are expected to regularly update their Learning File with details of the students they teach or support.
Action Research Project
All teaching staff will be completing an Action Research Project which focuses on either Cognitive Load Theory or Effective Formative Assessment. Action Research Projects are an effective catalyst for professional growth. Such projects provide colleagues with the opportunity to develop their teaching practice through a ‘low stakes’, reflective process. By thoughtfully implementing changes and evaluating their impact on student learning, we will achieve small, yet substantial, improvements in our teaching practice, which in turn will improve student outcomes.
Cognitive Load Theory
Learning is understood to be a permanent change to our long-term memory. For information to move into our long-term memory, it must first processed in a meaningful way by our working memory. Unfortunately, our working memory has a very limited capacity and can become overloaded quickly if there is an excessive amount of external or internal information needing to be processed at the same time. External information may be physical (a teacher moving around the room), visual (images or text on the board), or auditory (the teacher’s voice). Internal information could be exam anxiety, excitement about an after-school activity, or concern about a friend. To maximise the effectiveness of the working memory during lessons, it is important for teachers to present new information in small steps and build on prior knowledge whenever possible.
Effective formative assessment is an ongoing, student-centered process that informs teaching and learning. It involves timely feedback and activities that help gauge student understanding, allowing teachers to adjust instruction to meet individual needs. Through quizzes, discussions, peer evaluations, and other methods, formative assessment fosters active engagement and guides students in self-monitoring their progress. It promotes metacognition, supports skill development, and informs instructional decisions, ultimately improving learning outcomes.
Communication with stakeholders
To ensure all stakeholders are aware of the lesson culture we are embedding, parents and carers have been informed of the Gildredge House essentials and associated teaching and learning strategies through the school newsletter sent on 23.09.23 In addition, all parents have been invited to a Partnership With Parents meeting on 02.10.23, during which they heard further details or our lesson culture and engaged in practical demonstrations of it. We will continue to engage with parents regarding the embedding of our lesson culture throughout the academic year.
Students have been informed of the Gildredge House lesson culture through year group assemblies and experiencing the impact of it during lessons. The Gildredge House 5 lesson essentials are displayed on all classroom walls, therefore students should increasingly have an awareness of them. We will be working with the Student Leadership Committee to ensure that students are able to recognise the Gildredge House 5 and associated teaching and learning strategies.