Over the years, I’ve tried various ways to expand ownership of Computing teaching and to share experience and learning examples. Embedding lead and team teaching builds this into weekly teaching, but it’s my experience that some staff will ‘lean’ on a lead colleague without fully engaging with the topic content. I have to say I’m lucky to work with mainly highly motivated and interested teachers who are keen to get involved, but do encounter fluctuating levels of teacher engagement from time to time.
Why is this? Teachers will often quote time as a factor, but this can also be an cover for other reasons, such as being unsure of how to use certain technologies, or to ‘translate’ what are sometimes considered my/our plans into activities with their classroom/student cohort.
A successful formula is practically modelling skills and resources in team meetings and inviting the team to contribute ideas to the teaching sequence. It’s important to have everyone in the team, teacher, TA and support staff in those meetings to share understanding.
You have to be able to use resources yourself before you teach others. Some staff are more tech confident than others and/or comfortable leaving boundaries of children’s exploration open. Letting students be our guides can also lead to amazing scope and creativity. However, I feel that a basic understanding needs to be in place before we ask children to explore resources. I insist teachers are present in lesson intros and that they reinforce key vocabulary and objectives along with me during lessons.
This term, I tried out a new format to shift the emphasis away from me leading CPD to sharing showcases of the great success stories and teacher adoption that have come out of Computing modules this year. For higher level coding etc. the reason why the subject ‘specialist’ label applies, is that my role is to expand the topic in detail, leading challenge, and in such sessions, team teaching involves teachers supporting and encouraging children to reach their individual achievement levels.
SpeedTeach > The Plan
I selected the areas I thought would be great to showcase, based on new and developing modules this year. Approaching key staff in the teaching team who I felt would be great workshop hosts, I asked if they’d be happy to run a session in specific areas, e.g. podcasting, Book Creator, Early Years phonics. I invited the group by mail to confirm if they were happy to take part and then spoke to them individually to talk through the examples that might be good to share (based on our work over the terms).
Most were enthusiastic, and one year group asked if they could host as a 3 person team – great! The angle of ‘share something that went well/show how your students engaged’ is more appealing than standing up to do a verbal presentation. The dynamic creates a really positive response, everyone asked reacted enthusiastically and we were off !
It did take more time than I expected to set up the SpeedTeach event as each workshop host welcomed 1:1 time to talk about practicalities of how to present to a group, what content they shared and presentation tips. The logistics of finding that time with differing schedules in the lead-up week was tricky for us all, something to factor in when planning such an event.
However, this was time well invested and something I’m more than happy to do. It’s a really rewarding part of being a coach, when you see colleagues taking on a new role, for some this was the 1st time they were sharing Computing successes with staff outside of their year group, and hosting for 2 consecutive sessions. A great CPD opportunity.
I also wanted to include some Y6 students in this switching the balance from ‘Teacher Knows All‘ to ‘We are all Learners’ reinforces a positive message about collaboration and lifelong learning. The 2 groups of 3 students, all girls, volunteered and hosted sessions on Minecraft and Figure. The student-led sessions had the biggest attendance stats, and it was also a super for staff who don’t work with KS2 students to see and hear how articulate they are. A very proud moment, as they proved to be natural teachers, displaying the confidence to be able to work with a large group of their teachers – no mean feat !
SpeedTeach1 comprised 4 rotating sessions across 1 hour, see below. The schedule was sent out in advance, parental permission sought for student hosts to attend the after-school event and a break built in to schedule for them. Staff session hosts ran 2 back to back sessions and were then able to visit a further 2 sessions themselves.
SpeedTeach1 was held in the hall with 6 tables plus iPads as well as an Apple TV + screen session on Showbie in our Media Centre to facilitate people flow. Here are some set-up shots.
Feedback is valuable and post-workshop I surveyed staff via survey monkey, featuring 10 questions for feedback to gauge reactions of attendees and workshop hosts. The survey Qs ranged from logistics of SpeedTeach1 location in the hall, to length of sessions, highlights from sessions attended to what would you like to see in SpeedTeach2 and would you liek to host a workshop session ?
Session Hosts Feedback 2: how was the experience of teaching colleagues and what was the most challenging question that you were asked ?
Showbie Q: How is this different from Edmodo? (More complicated to explain the linear vs organised structures to someone who doesn’t use either!)
Session Hosts Feedback 2: what great ideas do you feel your talk inspired, e.g. new class project ideas from colleagues, etc?
Here’s an overview of sessions attended, and a selection of the feedback.
Hattie’s (2012) theory ‘students learn much when they become their own teachers (and teachers of others)’ and ‘when students become teachers of others, they learn as much as those they are teaching’ (Hattie, 2012: 88-9).
At SpeedTeach1, we were all ‘students’ and several hosts commented that they saw a different side to what they were teaching when teaching it to others. They noted similarities and differences in the types of Qs teachers asked compared to younger learners, The biggest challenge when teaching teachers is that they find it hard to listen and take turns ! They often ALL want attention at the same time, and ask for help before trying things out themselves – a comment often heard in class when encouraging children to become self-directed learners :)!
And finally – when asked:
The Maybe group % is encouraging, I will start canvassing in September and then once we are through our ISI Inspection, start talking about it with the MaybeRs. Along with the Yes group, a cumulative 44% is a good starting point to offer a diverse session mix. Here’s looking ahead to a Spring Term JSL SpeedTeach2.
Hattie, J. (2012) Visible Learning For Teachers: Maximising Impact on Learning. Routledge, NY.