If you are reading this, you are no doubt privy to the expectations heaped on teachers and school leaders about the importance of feedback in driving student success. If you hear the word “feedback”, and are haunted by images of lengthy, scribed comments that go ignored, much to your distress (how many hours of your life that you won’t get back?) and to the student’s peril, you are not alone.
“Teachers warn learning through play can lead to pupil disruption” was the title of an article printed by a Scottish newspaper in January this year. The article cited a recent report which had shown that some teachers in Scotland were worried about increasingly poor behaviour within classrooms when engaging in active learning.
How are teachers ensuring results in an environment where no one size fits all? I thought it would be useful to ask Primary and Secondary school learners for their own views about how a teacher brings teaching and learning to life for them. I imagined some rather all-singing-all-dancing responses but, surprisingly, this really was not the case. Here are some of their responses:
It could perhaps be tempting to fall into a trap of repetitive teaching and learning; using tried and tested strategies that we know have helped students to be successful in the past. Whilst this has its positives, and often offers reassurance, the beauty of being in this profession is the organic nature that is teaching and learning. You’ve got to love how new topics, skills and emerging student needs can create opportunities to adapt or rethink the resources or strategies that we use.
Enquiry is the key to learning, but enquiry in itself is valued as much as – if not more so – than the end product. When students learn creatively through enquiry, they practise asking questions, thinking critically and collaborating productively, all while deepening content knowledge and learning through experiences that can be clearly connected to their lives.
With many of the new specifications and examinations focussing on a greater volume of content, the challenge for some teachers is how to engage students and ensure deep learning. This is especially the case when curriculum time constraints play their role. One method to support deep learning, as well as engage lower ability, SEND or hard-to-reach students, can be using immersive and experiential learning experiences. This can be achieved using a variety of methods, taking into consideration practicalities and preparation time.
Summative assessment is a dead duck. We all know this. Aside from a final examination, all of the assessment we do these days should be formative. It should enable the student to improve. Yet still we use written tests which give students a score, a grade or percentage. Now, of course a student can self-reflect on why they got the grade they did or the teacher can go through the test paper explaining errors but to do this on an individual, rather than whole-class basis is almost impossible. How then does a teacher give rich and detailed feedback to their students without it being a huge increase in workload? The answer is diagnostic testing, a technique which allows formative feedback to be generated from summative feedback.
We are living in the era of innovation where innovative minds are the determinants of their nations’ futures. 21st century learners should acquire the needed skills for the projected innovation era that is emerging. Education nowadays is confronted, like never before, by the challenge that is how to prepare learners for a relatively unpredictable future. With the ubiquitous impact that technology has, educators hold hope that this impact will be the silver bullet for the aspired education reform. However, the integration of technology in learning is still undergoing a renovation process.