This week I want to follow on from last week and try to help you to continue to take small steps forward instead of thinking you have to solve everything straightaway.

As I said last week, instead of trying to think about keeping going till June, let’s focus on how to potentially take a significant leap in progress in the run up to Easter.

Every week you get given lots of feedback and targets and it is often difficult to filter these and identify exactly what to focus on – what more often happens is that you have a long list of things and you flit from one to the other, making some progress but then going backwards as soon as you start focusing on something else – sound familiar?

Normally, I wouldn’t want to talk about the individual Teachers’ Standards – as we have said many times before, we take an holistic approach to assessment and, as we are confident everything we do addresses the Standards, we avoid conversations that might lead to you feeling like you have ‘ticked off’ a Standard and, thus, can stop thinking about it. This week, however, as you have just had your Interim Profiles they seem a useful way in to narrowing down an area to concentrate on in the next few weeks.

You will have been given targets for development for each group of Standards. For some of you these might be very specific as this is a key area for you to concentrate on, for many of you, though, you might feel like you have things to work on in all sections, you aren’t fully clear about what you need to do and you certainly don’t know which to prioritise. Particularly if there are no real areas of concern, your profile might very quickly become a distant memory and you just carry on as you were doing before the Assessment Point.

So, how can you make really good use of the profile?

First of all, now a week has passed, have another look at it.

What stands out as real strengths? Did you really acknowledge them last week when you discussed your profile with your mentor or did you just accept them?

I have already emphasised enough times the need to celebrate your strengths so won’t rehearse this again, but, have you thought about:

How your strengths might help you with another target?

For example,

Imagine a key strength is your ability to reflect and act on advice and targets and an area for development is in relation to Teachers’ Standard 2: Promote good progress and outcomes by pupils. How can the former help me develop the latter?

Would it help to consider the substandards:

  • be accountable for pupils’ attainment, progress and outcomes;
  • plan teaching to build on pupils’ capabilities and prior knowledge;
  • guide pupils to reflect on the progress they have made and their emerging needs;
  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how pupils learn and how this impacts on teaching;
  • encourage pupils to take a responsible and conscientious attitude to their own work and study.

Here’s a clue – why have I put certain ones in bold?

Have you ever thought of sitting down and working out why your ability to reflect and act on advice and targets is a strength? What is it that you do that makes you good at this? What is it about the way your mentor acts that helps you? How could you apply your emerging knowledge of theories of teaching and learning to your own growth and identify what is happening when you progress in a certain area?

How do these questions help? Surely they identify how you should teach pupils to be reflective and take responsibility for their own learning?

With this knowledge could you identify some new strategies and approaches to use with pupils that make overt how to become reflective, identify personal emerging needs and respond to targets?

Perhaps you could identify the internal questions you ask of yourself when you are reflecting and model these to pupils? Or, identify the language someone who has helped you learn about teaching uses that you respond best to and build this into the way you talk to pupils?

How do you shift a target to an action?

Unless you and your mentor have identified a specific area to work on, many sections of your profile will just be targets. How can you identify exactly what you have to do to meet these targets?

Firstly choose one area to focus on next week. How? Pick the one that interests you most!

Now imagine what really good practice would look like in this area. Use our ‘Moving to …’ documents to help you do this.

Next pick your favourite class. Imagine this good practice actually happening with this class. What would perfection look like? What would individual pupils be doing? What would you be doing before/during/after the lesson? If you don’t know the answer to these questions discuss them with a friend or your mentor.

Now very clearly write down what you want – this should look different to your target, it should be a description of what you are picturing happening when you have made progress in this area.

Now return to the target(s) set in this area by your mentor. Can you see how they will help you reach what you have imagined? If the answer is no you need to return to your mentor and explain you don’t understand what you are aiming for!

So, you know what you want. How do you get there?

After targets you need strategies. Again we have documentation that can support you to think of strategies to meet targets (Targets to Actions), so please take some time to look at these. The one I want to prioritise here is to observe an expert.

Talk to your mentor and identify the best teacher in the school to show you what effective practice looks like in the area you are focusing on. Don’t tell yourself you are too busy to fit in an observation, force yourself to see them in action next week! The key, however, is not to just watch a lesson.

Before the lesson decide exactly what you are hoping to see. Now set some questions.

For example, if a target is to ‘make sure pupils become more independent’ then questions might be:

  • What does pupil independence look like? Why does the teacher think it is important?
  • What is the teacher aiming to do? Why?
  • How do they plan for this?
  • How do they recognise it?

Share the questions you have asked with the teacher before the lesson. You might even agree that they will alert you to something you should notice in the middle of the lesson that they think will give you answers to your questions.

What do you then do in the lesson?

Sticking with the same example:

Notice when a child is being independent,

  • What does this look like?
  • What happened in the run up to this moment?
  • How long does it last?
  • What happens after?
  • How does the child feel?
  • Why are they happy to work independently?

After the lesson return to your vision of what you want to achieve.

What have you learnt that you could apply to your own practice?

Have a go!

Remember whenever you try out something, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.