Friday, 31 July 2015

Star of the Week – the black hole of praise

The ‘Star of the Week’ has become my new enemy. Having two daughters in a primary school, I am overly familiar with this behaviour strategy. Each Friday we wait to see if our one of our daughters has been lucky to achieve the glory that is ‘Star of the Week’. The day usually starts with one of them saying: ‘I hope I am this week’s ‘Star of the Week’. It then usually ends with disappointment, disillusionment and dissatisfaction. ‘Daddy, why haven’t I got it this time?’ A simple device to motivate and reward behaviour has become the bane of my life. 

There is a deeper problem under all of this. I am not a pushy parent that feels that his child is not getting the rewards he/she deserves – okay, maybe a bit. This following exchange might help to highlight what, I feel, is the problem:

Daughter 1: Dad, I didn’t get ‘Star of the Week’ again.

Me: That’s okay. We know you did your best. Not everyone can have it.

Daughter 1: Okay.

Me: Who got the award this week?

Daughter 1: Tim.

Me: What did he get it for?

Daughter 1: Good football skills.

Me: And, ummm… does he behave well in lessons?

Daughter 1: No he often get told off.

Daughter 2: He had it last month too.

There is an alarming pattern in schools and it does worry me. The extremities of behaviour are rewarded and those, like my daughters, whose behaviour fits in the middle of these two extremes of behaviour get minimal, tokenistic rewards, if they are lucky.  

The outstanding student gets heaps of praise, because wow they are so brilliant at what they do. Come on students aspire to be like these outstanding bright students. They are the best and we reward the best. Be like them and you will get rewards.

The misbehaving student gets rewarded, because, for once in his /her life, he/she deigned it possible for a teacher to give a lesson without constant interruption.  Like fairies, we turn poor behaviour into something good and positive, when in fact we are rewarding students for doing what is expected from every student.

The majority of students probably fit between these two extremes. What message is encoded in this? Be exceptionally good and you will be rewarded. Be naughty and then you will get rewarded.

I think this is a wide-spread problem and a particular problem within secondary schools. The students who don’t behave well often have more positive stamps / rewards than your average student.  I see lots of students who, I think, don’t get rewarded enough in schools. They become the disaffected, disengaged and disenchanted. We are simply sending the message to people that we reward extreme behaviour. When do we praise students in schools for following the expectations and doing what is expected of them? We praise those that go beyond expectations and we praise those that finally follow expectations, but we never praise those that do what is expected.

It is ironic that we moan about extreme behaviour and how disruptive it is in the classroom, yet we are positively promoting it within schools. We reward extreme behaviour and neglect model behaviour.

My daughters haven’t got ‘Star of the Week’ but I know that they are great students for teachers. They love learning. They have enthusiasm. They try their best. They want to do well. All they need is a little encouragement. The bullies, the vandals and the rude students have been positively encouraged to do well. Where is the encouragement for nice, quiet and usually female students? A sticker is dynamite in the primary classroom. That’s all it takes. But sadly some students only attain ‘The Black Hole of the Week’.    

Praise is so powerful and I think we underestimate the use of it in the classroom and its impact on individuals. Who is praised and who isn’t praised tells you a lot about a school?

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Washing the grit, resilience and sand out of the classroom

I have had enough GRIT to last me a lifetime. I have had it in my sandwiches, my swimming trunks and in my mouth as I slowly eat an ice cream on the beach whipped by windswept sand. Sand, or the educational term goes, grit seems to be in vogue at the moment. I happen to be an expert on grit as I used to sell it in various forms: builder’s sand; play sand; ballast; pea gravel. You name it, I have sold it.

There are endless schools across the country making their students develop grit, or determination, as most sane people would call it. SLTs are lecturing students how they shouldn’t give up. YouTube videos of a plucky underdog who thinking at first they will not achieve something and then because they found some magical, gold coloured, grit in their pocket they discover they can actually do it. All this wrapped up in an emotional montage of tears, air punching and a track from Take That.

But, I have a problem with all this. We are teaching students that the magic gold dust is within them. Everybody is an underdog and you can do it. We, particularly British people, love an underdog. Look at our films, books and newspapers. One parent fought a school about uniform. The parent won. Hurrah!  One employer was unfairly fined. He fought the company. He won. Hurrah! We love it. Even our superheroes follow this pattern. They are all weak people who have an inner strength and some sparkly magic that will help them beat the big, bad baddie. Hurrah! Gosh, even Harry Potter is a typical example of this underdog figure. He beat a big, scary wizard. Hurrah!  

Resilience is part of the national collective. We will not surrender. Keep soldiering on. K.B.O. I could, at this point, make numerous references to British history where we have had to be resilient if the face of adversity. I will not, because every event in history from these sunny isles features two opposing forces and the least likely to win, wins because they were resilient. Looking at the classroom, this plays itself out regularly. The student that complains about the injustice of a sanction. A parent complains about the school’s rules on a haircut. The school council petitions for a change because something isn’t fair for them.

Is the problem with British students that they aren’t resilient enough? Are we drowning in sea of hundreds of students whose are not tough enough to give something a go?  I, honestly, don’t think that is the case. A lot of this resilience training seems to come from America. If I may be bold to say this, but I feel that it stems from pockets of social inequality. Occasionally, the message before a child steps into a classroom is a message of: there isn’t a slim hope of success. The idea of an ‘American Dream’ has died and hidden itself from the nightmares of reality. I believe this ‘GRIT’ training has worked for some Americans. It has helped generally tough children to toughen up and deal with reality face on.  

Travel across the Atlantic Ocean and we see people trying to bring about changes here. We want to improve things. What can we do? I know, let’s make students tougher. We need to make them resilient. Umm, but, sir, aren’t they resilient enough already? I think they are. Our students are resilient enough. They queue without given up halfway through. They put up with poor conditions in schools such as too hot or too cold conditions. They put up with hundreds of exams in a small space of a month.

So if our students are resilient and gritty, then what is it that stops them from being even better? I think it is consumerism. Over the years, we have allowed education to become consumer led. The rise of student voice is a typical example of this. Students see themselves as the consumers of education, which they are to a point, but they are leading the system more than the educators.

The consumer is always right. Isn’t that the case?  

       They demand what they want.

       They focus on their desires and occasional needs.

       They want things now.

       They see themselves as the centre of the world. 

But, how does this playout in the classroom? A consumer of education might do some of the following:

       Blames the person next to them for their lack of work.

       Forgets a pen.

       Only works hard when it is an assessment.

       Sees that effort is nothing to do with work. It is all about ability.

       No sense of urgency.

       Gives up quickly.

       Doesn’t think for themselves.

       Asks the teacher for the answers.

       Searches for problems. 

Recently, someone tweeted about student interviews to judge the success of the teacher. I find it hard to trust the judgement of someone who isn’t able to vote or drive, or even operate heavy machinery or perform heart surgery, when adults struggle to agree on simple educational matters or lesson grades. The consumer puts themselves at the centre of the world. Like a small baby, they will scream until their demands are met. A frantic parent runs around offering food, drink, comfort or a changed nappy. Not having a pen isn’t about resilience. It is about expectations. An expectation that someone, often the teacher, will sort things out for them. That isn’t resilience. That’s laziness.

Yes, some of the things here might be attributed to a student not being resilient and a deep-seated lack of confidence about the work, but honestly I think a lot of these can be attributed to the student feeling that they are the passenger in the learning process and not the driver. They are passive. They are reliant. They are content. They relaxed. They are comfortable. Do we make work too comfortable for students?

What if students were drivers instead of consumers? They might show these attributes:  

       Will learn from their mistakes.

       Always equipped. If they forget something, they will find a solution themselves.

       Sees that the effort is important.

       Works quickly, but effectively.

       Thinks for themselves. 

       Never gives up. Asks to do it again, if possible.

       Asks the teacher questions about improving.

       Searches for solutions.

I feel that the position students put themselves in is more important than grit. Are they at the centre of the universe? Or are they orbiting something else? As individuals, they consume what they want and how they want it. They watch television according to their desires. They eat food according to their desires. They are holding the remote control, but they are not the makers of things. They control but don’t do. Look at the classroom, students like to control but they are hesitant to do. How many students do we know who spend more time arguing about the work than spend time doing the work?

I heard one person moaning about having to wait to see a GP in a NHS surgery this week. They felt it was ridiculous for them to wait a fortnight to see someone over a minor ailment. They felt it was their given right that they should be seen straightaway. They felt that they had the control. They felt the world owes them something. They thought they were at the centre of the universe.

If we look at how the world is today and you see some interesting points. There is a clear rise in xenophobia. There is a rising fear of others and that all comes back to the individual. It is how the individual feels and what the individual fears. Added to this, everybody and his friends are sharing their individual thoughts or feelings on social media. We can spout (including me) our individual thoughts or feelings, whether they be offensive or not for the world to hear, because, after all, I ‘think’ I am right. We don’t care (well I do) what other people think or feel because the individual is more important than the rest of society. Then, we drive off in our cars, little tanks, shouting at the world for not being able to drive properly and not being courteous towards us. The think we are more important than the rest of society.

Maybe, we don’t need the resilience that is being peddled in schools. Maybe, we need to build resilience against individualism. Get students to think of the whole class and not just themselves. Maybe, we have allowed students to become too individual. Their individual desires affect learning and not necessary their needs. The needs of the class far outweigh the desires of the individual.

Are the students that seem to be ‘non-resilient’ in the classroom struggling to assert their individualism? It is not that they are lacking grit, it is just that there are too many strong individuals in the class that they can’t function effectively in a group. Ofsted seems to be cracking down on behaviour in the classroom, but isn’t the behaviour highlighted often a result of individuals being too individual and not conforming to expectations?

Take Twitter, a collection of millions of people all with their individual thoughts and feelings. Some are hidden from conversations because of the loud few. Does the quiet majority need to be more resilient? Or, do the loud minority need to be more resilient? The answer to this is probably no to both counts. We need a balance. The quiet and the loud need to function successfully together, but in a way where one dominates at the hands of the other being neglected.

Thanks for reading. I am off to wash the sand out of my swimming trunks.


Sunday, 12 July 2015

The Force is strong in you – I can see it from the blood test.

The point where I lost interest in Star Wars was when they tried to rationalise the Jedi powers. As soon as a character mentioned that stuff in your blood made you a Jedi, I lost all interest in the series of films. Part of me died. As much as I try, I cannot get excited about the new Star Wars films. The trick has been revealed and the magic has died. A simple bit of exposition rewrote a complex aspect of a series of films.

Every school is different. A different location. A different set of teachers. A different set of students. A different set of influences. Like Star Wars, the magic is lost if you try to rationalise what makes your school unique, different and one of a kind. The soul of a school is lost when you rationalise it based on a series of numbers. The data says this. You see feelings don’t get a look in when you try to rationalise things. We feel that it is this. Yes, but the cold, hard data says this. You can rationalise and evidence facts, but you can’t rationalise feelings. I have a warm glow about my school at the moment after several days of fun activities. Can I pinpoint what it is? No. Can others feel it? Yes. Step into my school on an average day and you’ll feel it. But, can you evidence it? No. Well, unless you have a magical ‘feelingometer’.

A school is more than its parts. However, the problem with education all too often it is the sum of its parts being measured. But the glue, the magic, or the tiny creatures that hold a school together isn’t measurable. Yet, when we want to improve things, we look at others and look for the magic ingredient. We look for the critters in the blood that will create the magic. The truth is, is that there is nothing simple about schools. When we start to understand this, then maybe things in education will improve.

Let’s take reading. I loved David Diddau’s recent blog on reading. Please take the time to read it. In it, he explained some of the approaches one school is taking to tackling reading. Their approach is interesting and it is one way of dealing with things. But, and let’s be clear on this, it isn’t a ‘wholesale’ idea. It is an idea for one school based on the school’s DNA. It’s blood. Therefore, I thought I’d share the approaches to reading that my school uses and some of the plans for the future. They are based on the DNA of my school. Therefore, they might not work in your particular context. However, the more strategies we expose, and share, the more chances a person has to finding the combination of strategies that will work.

Reading Point 1 – Cover  
We have been doing this for a while now, but like most things we need to refresh it a bit. We often use cover lessons for private reading. The first twenty minutes is dedicated to silent reading. It helps to calm a class down and get students ready for work, but also it helps with the ‘pants-where-is-the-cover-work’ moment and ‘what-on-earth-are-they-expected-to-do’ feeling you get at the start of a cover lesson. This reduces the amount of planning by 50% and it makes cover have a clear purpose. We support this by having some book boxes in the classroom.  

The curriculum is full and finding time for reading is a challenge for all schools. Many students don’t read at home, so we have to get clever with how we use time in schools. Instead of cranking up the DVD player when students when half of the class is away on a trip, get the books out.

Reading Point 2- Transition
In primary schools, the reading culture is often superb. That is often lost in the transition phase between primary and secondary school. This is partly due to the different contexts of teaching. Students are taught in one classroom in primary school and they are taught in several classrooms in secondary school. I tend to read when I am at home, but I don’t take a book out with me when I am shopping. Why? I cannot get into the zone for reading when I am moving from one place to another very quickly.

We need to be clear about the status of reading. I spoke to Year 6 parents about reading in our introduction evening. I informed them of the problems we face, as parents and teachers, with reading and how reading habits change in teenagers. Plus, I also informed parents of the demands of the new curriculum and GCSEs on reading. I told parents that reading at home is a powerful tool in helping a student succeed.

Transition work has always related to writing in my school. We have asked students to prepare something for some writing in the first week or we have asked students to write at home. This year, I wanted the focus to be about reading and make the message clear about reading. That is why all our Year 6s have been given a sheet and on it they have to write down what they have read over the summer. Their English teacher will be reading them in September and they have an opportunity to impress them.

I am getting students to see the importance of reading. I think students know how writing is important, but the reading gets forgotten. The parents and the students will get to know now how important reading really it. Like all things in education, I am a PR agent. This time my client is reading.

Reading Point 3 – Reading logs
Reading logs are nothing new and original. They are often used in primary schools, but secondary schools rarely use them. One of our focuses for next year is homework and I often tell parents is that reading is part of the homework we expect students to do in English. I tell parents that students should be reading for at least fifteen minutes a day. I say that again and again.

This year we are making English homework booklets. It will contain pages for spellings, research, vocabulary, sentences and pages for reading. We are going to get students to write down the reading they do in the week. And, we are making parents aware of this. Again, we are making the message that reading is important clear. I will probably text parents termly to make sure students are completing their reading.

The teachers will sign the reading booklets once a term and the best booklets will receive a reward.

Hopefully, the process will make explicit to parents, students and teachers how much reading students do. Let’s see the conversations in parents evening, because that will be something I want mentioned by staff. The booklet will be our record of how much they do.

Reading Point 4 – Points
Again, I have stolen something from primary school. We have used a number of incentives to promote reading such as events, competitions and quizzes. We have used a number of different reading resources, but I think simplicity is the key.

Every book a student reads will be logged in the homework booklets. However, each book will be given a score out of 10. The higher the score, the more challenging the book. The teacher will decide the score and it will vary from student to student. There will be no charts charting the score of each book. Teachers might suggest a book is a ten, but there will be no hard rule to the scoring. This should be very easy and quick for teachers to do.

Each term we will produce a leader board of scores and at the end of the year there will be prizes and I might even consider certificates for level of readers.

The process is simple, but it feeds into a particularly masculine aspect. A challenge. Turning the reading process into competition. Plus, it makes the quantity of the reading and quality of the reading at the heart of the process.

Reading Point 5 – Books
We have always used the Bookstart option of buying students a book. It has been a great opportunity to promote reading, but I don’t think it has always helped our weaker readers to develop as readers.

This year I am going to use the money for something different. This year I am going to buy a new set of books. The purpose of these books is to build and create enjoyable reading experiences.  We have six sets and six terms. Each set is going to be given the book at the start of a term and they have to read it by the end of term. The reading will take place at home.

Geoff Barton made a very good point about the sociable dimension of reading. It is a sociable thing. I often talk to people about books I have read and listen to their book suggestions. With this set of books, there isn’t going to be any ‘work’ about. No book review. No drama activity. No essay. Not a single thing that can be classed as work. It is a book that students are reading. The only thing I want is it to be a social activity. We are going to look at building opportunities to get students to talk about it. Get sets to discuss the book after they have read it. Get them interested and engaged.

The hope is that this can be done with other year groups, but this year I am going to start it with Year 7s. One more book a year and another brick in the wall of their reading experience.

At the moment, I am looking for something engaging and enjoyable. I want the whole experience to about reading enjoyment so that it will inspire them to read more. That’s why I am probably going for a David Walliams’ book. Before you shudder at my choice, the same students will also study parts of Dickens in the year and the opening of ‘Jane Eyre’.

Reading Point 6 – More books
There is money, very little money, within budgets to support students such as pupil premium and KS2 transition. I am considering making rucksacks of books for these students. There is such a thing as book poverty. It is not uncommon for a student to live in a house with no books. How are we going to instil a love for reading when they cannot read? Libraries are an important place, but the home is where the heart is. That is why I am looking to buy books chuck them in a rucksack and give them to the students. For thirty pounds, it is amazing what I can get.  

There are hundreds of great books out there and putting a few in a bag could be a personal library that they can dip in, when they want something.

Oh. And I am not going to make a big song and dance about it.  Nobody will know. Just the student.

Reading Point 7 – The Opening / Articles
This was done with the Carnegie book award in another school. The school made all the students read the opening chapter and then got students to judge the best on the opening. We tried it this year.

Often there is time in tutor time to do some reading, but all too often that reading can be directionless. This year I am going to photocopy article and opening chapters from new novels. The students read and discuss them in 10 minutes. Will this inspire you to read the rest of the book? Do you agree with the writer? Both these questions form the basis of the reading. They allow for a high level of engagement as students search the text to support ideas.

Therefore, we are going to use our library for the texts and get students to engage in these short reading tasks. It gives students opportunities to read a variety of texts. Students need help finding the right book. This is just another way.

These are just a few strategies I am using or will use next year. A lot are general PR stuff. However, they do not work unless everybody is part of it. If staff are on message, then the school is sending students the message. The more students see that reading is important, the more likely they will treat it as important.

Staff will know that…

·         Students must have a reading book in their bag at all times.

·         Students will read at the start of most cover lessons.

·         Students must read at home several times during a week.

·         Students’ reading is being monitored.  

·         Students will get points for every book they read.

·         Students will be given reading opportunities to read often in lessons and especially in tutor time.

·         Reading is something that must be discussed and talked about.

Not one strategy is the key. Something here will hopefully develop and improve the reading of students. But, I am not going to search for the magic in the blood. I am just going to throw a lot of magical things and use the Force. For the Force is strong in reading, my friend.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, 5 July 2015

It’s all about the books, about the books, about the books - no trouble!

Things have changed.

There wasn’t a sudden announcement, but the emphasis in observations has dramatically changed over the last four years. Because someone, in their infinite wisdom, decided that teaching is too hard to assess simply by looking at the teacher for an hour from the ineffective perspective of being perched at the back of the classroom, the focus has shifted. It went from focusing on the teaching to focusing on the students and that horrible word…PROGRESS. Then, the focus suddenly dropped onto books and exercise books. Now, don’t get me wrong, the exercise books have been a part of the observation process, but they haven’t always been the primary focus. They have always been very far down on the line of priorities. Now it is all about the books. Oh, and that’s no trouble.

Lesson observations have become like a very messy divorce. We now have observers openly blanking teachers. People will observe my lessons by looking at the books and they will simply ignore me. The materialistic things (the second car and the paintings) and the children are the focus and not the person that has been holding everything together for the past few years. Maybe, I should consider getting a prenup before I start a year of teaching. Look, before you observe me, you need to remember that I inherited this class and that I am not responsible for Tim’s terrible attendance or the fact that Susan doesn’t seem to keep still.  But, it isn’t you were are looking at, Chris, so just imagine we are not here. They say this while loudly talking to a child and moving the furniture around.  

So the humble exercise book has become the cross to nail on my teaching for the year. It is all about the books. No trouble. See there is a problem with the humble exercise book. It starts looking beautiful at the start of the year and then by the end of the year they look like something that has seen several years of military service. It is wrinkled. It is creased. It might miss a page. It might have a scar of ink across the cover. They never look like how they should look in your mind. They look ugly. However, the first page looks beautiful because both teacher and student were concerned about making a good impression and three terms later there is no need worry about making a first impression.

Pick up a book in my room and I will go through several states of fear and anxiety. Did I mark it recently? When was the last time I marked it? Did the student hand it to me when I was marking the whole set? Is it marked enough? What colour pen did I use? Did I use the right colour? Is my handwriting clear enough? Did I write something appropriate? Did my handwriting of the word ‘work’ make it look like something inappropriate? Did I have a breakdown mid marking and ‘let rip’ with my anger and frustration? Before this book obsession, I just marked. I didn’t think about anybody else; it was just me and the student. Now, it is like the opening night of my version of ‘Hamlet’. I am being critiqued.  

I look at exercise books all the time. I scrutinise exercise books as a Head of Department. Not because I want to chase people and tell them off for not marking. But, because I want to see what the learning looks like in that person’s lesson. How has the learning been shaped? How has the student developed over time? What has the teacher done with a topic? How have they supported a student? I suppose, if I am honest, I don’t look at things the way others look at things: desperate for some evidence of progress or no progress. The things I look at are:

1] What is the learning that has taken place? What is the journey that students have been on?

2] What activities have students done to enable the learning to take place?

3] How has teacher’s marking guided the student to improve?

My feedback to staff will cover these things. As things have progressed, I have discovered quite a few things, but the most important thing I have noticed is: target setting.

I have noticed that most teachers have a bank of ten key targets that they give students to direct them in the process of improvement. Yes, I am guilty of this. The targets are my short-hand. They make the process of marking quick and easy. They are my catchphrases. The sentences are preconstructed in my head. All I have to do is simply go to the space in my brain where they are located and pick one. I have stock targets for top and bottom of classes and readymade targets for reading and writing. The nature of the job means that at some point in the past we needed a way to speed things up and simplify things. A bank of targets in our heads has been the way to do this.

So what did I do with my department about this target setting issue? I extended the bank of targets the teachers use. I gave them more. I gave them topic related targets. I gave them targets related to reading and targets related to writing. Therefore, when students have an assessment, teachers have a bank of targets to give the students, which they could adapt if they wanted to. But, I even made it easier for staff by giving a skill to a letter or number, so all staff had to do is write a letter and the students wrote out the target. The results was faster and easier marking, but more precise feedback. We used this model for our GCSE mock marking and I’d say it reduced the marking load considerably. Plus, we kept the targets to one per question. The problem we have with marking exam papers is that there is often a catalogue of things that students need to improve, but we opted for one target per question and I can safely say that our recent Year 11 students knew what they needed to do for each question.

For question 1, I need to …

For question 2, I need to …

In addition to this, we made the targets (skills) explicit to students. They knew what the targets were going to be at the start of the topic. In fact, the teaching was planned around the targets we might set the students. Therefore, students were able to see how things linked to the overall task. In fact, I got students to actively engage with the targets by attempting a piece of writing and assessing based on the sheet. I even got students to self-evaluate the targets throughout a topic.

I know, it doesn’t sound too ground-breaking. However, here’s a bit of the principle behind it: Teachers are magicians standing at the top of a ladder.  They are seen, by students, as the experts in their subject. They do the work that students are expected to do without thought /effort and it looks like magic to them. A student is at the bottom of a ladder in terms of how they see themselves. They see the magical stuff but there is quite a bit of a way for them to get close to the magician. If I am honest, students see English as something mystical. Either they over complicate it or they over simplify it. We don’t help things by parading mark schemes written by monkeys with typewriters, checklists and example answers. It is good natured but is it really effective in helping them to see what they need to do to improve? Too many times students say that they must write more to improve their English level. If only, it was that simple.

We have shared these skill sheets this year and we are going to build on them next year. But, for me, they work. They are not a hierarchy of skills. I am not telling students do this and you get a grade A. Instead, I am saying that these are the skills I will see a person do if they want to be the best. It would be crazy to focus on everything. Instead, focus on one at a time. Plus, we have a conflict within ourselves when it comes to target setting. We are conflicted between content and skills. Knowledge and skills. Accuracy and skills. All too often, I have spent three weeks teaching students and got them to produce a piece of work. The targets I set the student do not always relate to the previous learning. It focuses on the basics. I might have taught students to use a range of clauses in their writing, but the target I set them is about spellings. Not related to the previous learning. Yes, the basics are important, but I am giving conflicting messages. It is like me asking students questions about a war poem and then asking them: ‘Which band was at number 1 the most in September 1983?’ The questions and the targets (feedback) should be about the previous learning. All too often they are not. In English, we find it almost necessary to be constantly writing targets about accuracy, but this might be going against the grain of what we are trying to teach.

Our feedback in the classroom is under scrutiny and so too is our questioning. Maybe, rather than focus on endless writing in books, we look at what we write. The language we use for setting targets. The choice of targets. One line of teacher’s writing can be more meaningful and effective than a page of scribbles where a teacher expresses their frustration that a student hasn’t listened through the art of exclamation marks, capital letters and underlining.

Maybe, if we start with the framework of targets as the basis for our teaching, then students might be clearer about what is they need to do to get better. If we use the same language of targets at the start and in the middle and at the end, then maybe these students have a better chance of making progress.

I will add more screengrabs from my PowerPoint later. Thanks for reading,

P.S. Like Arnie, there is no point setting a target unless like 'The Terminator' we return. I'll be back.... to see that you have followed your target.