Implications of The Observation or Learning Walk by SLT
to Mixed Attainment Mathematics Classes - Tahir Naeem
A possible solution to this particular area of concern may be found in a report mentioned by Mike Ollerton at the mixed attainment conference June 2017, 'Made to Measure', May 2012 by Ofsted, in particular paragraphs 127 and 128. The evidence of the study of the report supports the fact that for senior leaders whose specialism is not mathematics, gaining an understanding of what the best mathematics education
involves presents a significant challenge. For mixed attainment classes to be successful and for teachers to feel confident to deliver such classes then we need to have on board the Senior Leadership Team. They need to have the right training or indeed be chosen appropriately for their mathematics speciality, if there is no budget for professional development.
How does the observer measure progress in a mixed attainment mathematics class when as John Mason once said, “teaching takes place in time, but learning takes place over time” (Griffin, 1989)? Can the observer see that they may need to follow up with further sequential observations or learning walks? How can learner performance be effectively reported to management in a mixed attainment class?
Mathematics: made to measure, Messages from inspection evidence,
Published: May 2012, Reference no: 110159
''127 - Increasingly, subject leaders and senior staff also monitored provision through ‘learning walks’ (where several classes were each visited for a short time). These have the potential to provide leaders with a quick overview of teaching and learning and can be used for specific checks such as: adaptation of work to different sets/groups of pupils; consistency of approach among teachers; use of talk; and compliance with school and departmental policies, for instance on methods of calculation. However, schools’ records showed that learning walks were frequently concerned with checking generic features or policy requirements such as displaying lesson objectives, having seating plans, and making ‘next step’ comments in marking. They rarely focused clearly on the quality and mathematical detail of learning and progress over time; for instance, how well the activities were leading to the intended learning for all pupils, and whether the approach/resources promoted understanding and made links with prior learning”.
“128. A further positive development has been a broadening of leaders’ monitoring activities to include features such as scrutiny of pupils’ work; questionnaires or interviews with staff and pupils; and checks on planning, use of homework, assessment records and the quality of marking. These activities were sometimes distributed through the school year or they were concentrated in an intensive period of review of the subject. While in most of the schools the systems and structures were suitable, the lack of attention to mathematical detail impeded faster improvement. Sometimes a weakness was identified but then not followed up in the areas for development or linked to professional development. For senior leaders
whose specialism is not mathematics, gaining an understanding of what the best mathematics education involves presents a significant challenge''.
Griffin, P. (1989). Teaching takes place in time, learning takes place over time.
Mathematics Teaching, 12–13.
I had attended the conference having trialled mixed attainment in year 9 and having had successes and learning curves. My biggest learning gain of the conference was getting past the in built I must stand at the front and do an example of a new topic because all learners don't know it. Helen Hindle's workshop showed how all learners can be stretched and there was no lid on learning through the key learning aids being on the table and structured tasks where learners pick their individual starting point. Pupils help each other whilst the teacher works the classroom with teacher questioning to get pupils to their goal. The learning journeys made this very clear to the pupils who were visually able to see their own journey.
The second highlight of the day were the Cre8ate maths resources with applications to real life. Ready made resources that were engaging for all types of learners and encouraged growth and progress, again without being teacher led pupils could achieve their goal. These resources perfectly complemented mixed ability teaching.
The key I learned from all the workshops is how to question for all pupils to achieve!
Thanks you so much ! I now feel fully prepared and I am already using the ideas in lessons.
This year is the second with a new Head of Maths who has a fresh take on setting. We have a new approach to banding and this has opened up the classes somewhat and the spread of prior knowledge is now greater and therefore a field in which these new ideas can be practised. As a result we are designing a new SoW for year 7 with facets of Mixed Attainment Maths ideas added in!
In my classes I now make a big effort to use mindfulness and the power of 'Yet', and my younger students are at pains to ensure they remember to tell me that they don't quite understand yet. We use learning journeys so that they may map their progress and they get quite excited when they can measure their progress for themselves. This worked very nicely with Year 7 when working on probability, and really boosted their confidence!
From the conference, I have also used an idea from Inquiry Maths which my (streamed top set) year 8 loved, as did my bottom set year 9. I feel that a mixed ability class would really flourish with this sort of activity. I have noted on many occasions that those streamed lower down in the sets tend to have better reasoning skills for shape but lack the language to approach questions on higher papers. Time to reintroduce my WordWall! I felt with these separate classes that a meeting of minds could work out really well, but cannot arrange such a meeting due to timetabling.
For most of my teaching career I have been assigned the bottom sets as this is an area of interest for me. I have had a few year 9 classes which have been fairly spread in ability and had a quotient of about 15-20 students. In year 10, these classes have shrunk, in one notable year to 6 students, and these students are then in no doubt that they have been scrapped by the school and probably therefore by society. It was a heart-breaking start to the new year. I am interested in mixed attainment classes particularly for this class and going forwards, the challenges would inspire me to be a better teacher.
I was very disappointed when due to a disaster with the home plumbing, I was unable to attend the Sheffield conference. I feel that this whole movement is one with which I would like to work collaboratively and to share ideas. I would like more info, and more ideas!
(As a result of Mike’s session the woodwork teacher is currently making me a set of geoboards and I can't wait to use them!!!! Thank you.)