I have just read David Didau‘s article on why mini-plenaries are such a waste of time and it struck a bit of a chord. Of course they are, and there’s so much more that is a real waste of time; whether it’s us wasting students’ time or our own time being wasted. You hear so many stories of how different Teacher Training courses are focusing on X, Y and Z and have explicit expectations that by doing these you meet certain Teacher Standards. It is interesting – mmm, just plain annoying actually – that these ITT courses and their leaders have these expectations when, as we all know and as OFSTED etc are continually reiterating, there is no preferred style of teaching. Mentors of trainees should surely be very clearly briefed that teacher standards on training courses and in NQT years can be met through any number of pathways.
Anyway, I digress. Our purpose in lessons is to best spend our time helping students learn. Typically that will involve telling them something new, applying this new knowledge to develop that understanding further, and recognising when they have understood it. We ought to try and do this as effectively and efficiently as possible and it is important that we spend time outside of our lessons talking about our teaching and designing lessons/learning that works. There are some things that waste our students learning time and our own time:
In the classroom
- Mini-plenaries (thanks David)
- A lot of starters/plenaries (on a scale of 1 – 5 how happy are you with X, Y and Z?)
- Bad use of technology
- Poorly executed self- and peer-assessment
Outside the classroom
- Writing down comprehensive lesson plans (for non-trainee teachers)
- Most things produced for observations (such as class context sheets with data/SEN)
- Most data, including those joyful Target Grades
- Meeting and emailing about doing things, instead of doing things
- A lot of student tracking
Ach, there is so much more I could write but my brain hath failed. If you have any thoughts, let me know.