It was late on Wednesday night, that I did my regular trawl of Twitter; in search of innovative and enthralling ways in which I could further mold my group of year fives into confident and positive, and most importantly to me, self-autonomous future leaders. One post instantly grabbed my attention. It discussed how @jjbrassington had spent part of his day in class discussing the feelings of his pupils in relation to what was done in class, how it was taught and how things could be improved - an incredibly simple concept, yet one which I had never worked with.
I spend much of my time trying to ensure that the children, with whom I work, understand the importance of making mistakes. I'm more than happy to call myself out when something goes wrong, but I’ve never asked any of my pupils for their constructive criticism in relation to my teaching or methods before. I was intrigued to try, so on Thursday, we delayed our daily routine and gathered, in groups, to discuss our likes, our concerns and the changes that we would like to see implemented in order to improve our mood, attitude and well-being in the classroom. I created a short audit sheet which the groups could record their ideas on (I've added this to the free downloads section, so please feel free to have a go yourself!) After a quick chat about honesty, and the fact that I was more than happy to hear about how I could self-improve, the children discussed their likes, dislikes and how they envisaged change occurring; jotting down ideas, for later reference, along the way. As I traveled between tables, it was interesting to hear the differing feelings of individuals. Lots of positives were mentioned, as well as a number of less-positive things which I wanted to discuss in further detail. We stopped after fifteen minutes to feed-back and dissect what had been written.
Some dislikes included the teaching of maths; but when we broke it down, this related specifically to the pace of the lessons for a number of those who find some of the concepts trickier. It was a positive wake-up call for me and a reminder that I needed to ensure that every member of the group was able to access the lesson content.Another really interesting response was that many felt the daily routine was too regimented and the fact that because English and maths were always taught in the morning, and usually in the same order, they were boring. We discussed why this was the case, but after consideration, I agreed that we could certainly mix things up a bit in the coming weeks. The children also requested additional time dedicated to well-being. Colouring activities, more outdoor-time and group work were common requests, while other children suggested carousel activities, more videos and more jobs, yes, more jobs, as things that could increase their productivity and engagement.
My favourite comment came from one of my most avid readers, who suggested that she, along with other confident speakers, could perhaps spend time reading with the children in reception class and year one. I was massively impressed by the way that their confidence and levels of responsibility are rocketing and how many of them see sharing their abilities and knowledge, with those around them, as a positive after such a short time with me.Over the coming weeks I plan to begin making changes in relation to many of the ideas and views which were openly and constructively shared today. There are always ways in which we can change our own practices and environments to better suit those around us; it's just another small part in developing the student-led classroom that I want to achieve. I believe that when children feel safe and secure in their environments, that they are far more likely to accomplish their goals. And, if they feel that they have a firm hand in how the teaching and daily routine takes place, that achievement has the potential to increase ten-fold. Have you ever discussed your teaching or methodology with the children you teach? How do you allow them to actively shape the learning that takes place in your classroom? If you would like share your thoughts or ideas please leave a comment or get in touch. I would love to create a community of like-minded individuals and for this to be a place where some of the most innovative work in relation to student leaders and student-autonomy is shared, so if you would like to contribute to the blog, please let me know.Thank you once again to Joseph Brassington for the idea of running my audit - Twitter is a great place to idea-hunt, and this idea was a fab one.