Monday, 8 June 2015

New strategies, new knowledge

Flash forward to the classroom.
I was teaching in a Year 7 & 8 classroom with students who were achieving at standards ranging from Level 1 to Level 5, or stages 2 - 8. A massive range for me to get my head around.
My school has identified maths as a specific area of focus and as such significant professional development has been, and is still being, administered for teaching staff. As a beginning teacher in my first year I made sure to make the most of any opportunities to observe maths group instruction, and tried to take full advantage of the professional development we received through a facilitator from Cognition.  
Towards the end of the year I was able to observe the Cognition facilitator deliver the same lesson to year 5 & 6 students and my own students in year 7 & 8. The group dynamics were a big factor in the delivery of the lesson content and the progress that the learners made. To be able to compare the learning experiences of my learners was invaluable.
It was great to see the progression of the learning experiences - knowledge check, use of materials, recording of student strategies, clarifying of maths language, to the co-construction of WALT at the conclusion of the lesson.
Certain concepts were not understood in the session with my learners and so had to be addressed through the use of materials.  There was unbalanced input from only certain members in the group which led to an uneven exchange and the facilitator was not sure of the understanding of all group members.
The discussion post group session involved establishing a group treaty of expected behaviour including not calling out and all members participating. This was a very interesting observation for me, as a beginning teacher, to see how important behaviour and group work expectations are when teaching in groups.
Here is an example of the format and modelling of the type of maths instruction that our school focussed on delivering last year. I have borrowed this image from my colleague Aireen. I was lucky enough to work alongside Aireen last year in a team teaching environment and she continues to be a wonderful mentor for my development as a teacher. This is how I tried to shape my maths group instruction in 2014.