As a teacher, I’ve been used to my best-laid plans going awry from time to time, even before the pandemic threw many of them up into the air completely. Sometimes, the unexpected happens: it starts to snow, there’s a drumming workshop happening outside my classroom, the fire alarm goes off, or a student spots a spider!
In these types of situation, I would have to simplify things, and draw the key approaches I’d learned during my years in the classroom. I’d still have to find out what my students knew, uncover any misconceptions they held, and introduce ideas in a way that didn’t overload them, but I might have to do it in a slightly different way to how I’d planned. I would still make sure I checked for understanding, gave students plenty of structured practice, and supported them to develop independence, but it would probably look slightly different to my originally planned activities.
I’ve found that, as I become more experienced, this process has become easier. I worry less about whether I can check for understanding in the way I’d planned to, and think more about how I can respond to the situation I find myself in. This is much more possible when you can draw on sound knowledge of key principles as well as replying on experience.
When teachers were forced to teach remotely for the first time last year, they had no experience to draw on of teaching within a global pandemic, but they could use the principles of effective teaching. The EEF’s rapid evidence review on remote teaching underlined how important it was to prioritise these principles, whatever your remote learning provision looked like in practice
At the George Spencer Academy, teachers and leaders took time to consider the characteristics that make teaching effective within their school, and applied these to their remote learning provision. Shuna Neave talks in this latest video about what this looked like in her remote Biology classroom. She explains how she used Rosenshine’s principles of instruction to help her teach tricky topics, and gives examples of how she implemented this
The video is full of highly-considered practical examples, which demonstrate how resourceful teachers can be when faced with new, challenging situations.