Intrinsic motivation in your students – have they got it?

Standard

What makes the difference between the students in the UK and those in other countries? This week, whilst the PISA results were published I saw a tweet which said some along the lines of “essentially the difference between the countries comes down to intrinsic motivation”. This got me thinking about whether the students I teach are intrinsically motivated and if not, is there anything I can do about it? Finally, does it actually matter?

Is intrinsic motivation important?

The most successful students in a recent exam were those that had emailed me questions and clarifications before the test. They did this independently. They were worried about the exam. They were bothered. They cared. But was that intrinsic motivation? Unless I speak with them about it I detail I cannot be sure. I need to find out why they did this.

Intrinsic motivation is about the learning process that a student goes through, it isn’t about being motivated to succeed to do well because of a possible reward. It is about enjoyment of learning and what it has to offer. It is separate from being academically successful in that a ‘failing’ student can have high intrinsic motivation.

I watched a fascinating clip on the BBC about students in South Korea. They showed some children who essentially were learning form 8am-11pm every day. They were shattered. They went to normal school and then to private school every day. Why? Because they feel it is the only way that they will be able to get a job when they’re older. Therefore this isn’t intrinsic motivation. It’s extrinsic. It is goal driven motivation. They may be hating the process of learning (and why wouldn’t you if you were doing it for over 12 hours a day!). Yet, has this been interpreted as intrinsic?

Could students from around the world be surveyed on intrinsic motivation, to see which countries have got this right? I assume the PISA data doesn’t record this. But it does raise a question……

Is enjoying learning more important than good results?

I did some small research into what has been already researched in this area and found some fascinating results on what develops intrinsic motivation in children.

Here is a summary of what I have interpreted from the data, and the research findings and references are below.

Implications for practice in schools

  • Consider the rewards system. Don’t reward for the ‘expected’
  • Use verbal praise & sharing of learning to reward
  • Don’t compare students with other students as a method of motivation
  • Be enthusiastic……
  • Don’t tell them you’re doing it for the money!
  • Use progression of ‘grades’ through feedback than just a ‘grade’ itself
  • Relate learning to children’s interests
  • Set high goals and measure students against their own goal
  • Give students autonomy

The research……

‘Reward students to motivate them…but not how you think’
Deci, Koestner and Ryan (2001) conclude that tangible rewards do not contribute to intrinsic motivation and in fact they undermine it, especially in school aged children.The problem is that when rewards aren’t present any longer, the reason to do something, if relying on rewards, have gone.(Covington 1998). The kind of “If someone has to pay me to do this, then it must not be worth doing for its own sake” attitude limits a student’s appreciation of the learning itself. It is only the potential reward that motivates.(Covington 2000)

This is supported by Cameron & Pierce (1994) who found that whilst rewards don’t decrease motivation, verbal praise as a reward does motivate. They found that giving a student a reward for doing the ‘expected’ has a negative effect.

In many cases, rewards in school create a system of ‘winning’ or getting more rewards than your peer, so it is a sense of competition that motivates, it isn’t intrinsic.(Covington 2000) Rewards don’t usually reward the process but the achievement. This goes against being motivated to learn over being motivated to achieve.

Covington (2000) however suggests that ‘pay-offs’ should be more things like the chance to share work or explain to others why their work is important. This kind of ‘reward’ is intrinsically linked to the learning, not the result itself or how they’ve done compared to others.

‘An enthusiastic teacher will motivate students’

Patrick, Hisley & Kempler (2000) found that in a small scale (93 students – 80 women & 13 men!) study that enthusiastic teachers did actually intrinsically motivate students. Other studies have shown that an enthusiastic teacher links with effective teaching.

Patrick et al (2000) even posit that the power of an enthusiastic teacher can awaken the ‘dormant’ intrinsic motivation in a student. This of course then assumes that every student has a dormant motivation, which if true, would mean that if we know how to withdraw it, we can make all students intrinsically motivated.

‘Good grades motivate’

Covington (1999) found that even if grades weren’t high it is possible for students to value learning. Covington (2000) also claims that if a student aims to get high grades just because they want to impress or avoid failure then their value of learning will not be intrinisc. However if a student is improving their grades through having feedback and then implementing it, then they appreciate the learning process itself rather than just a grade.

In contrast Covington (2000) highlights that ‘doing well’ can motivate but so can ‘not doing well’ however this again relates to achievement rather than appreciation of the process to get there.

‘Don’t tell them it’s your job’

Some research (Wild et al 1992) has found that students have more intrinsic motivation if they perceive their teacher to also have it. In one study it found that if a student believed a teacher was volunteering it was more motivating than knowing they were paid to do it. This links with enthusiasm. Unless you’re a great actor, an enthusiastic teacher will be seen to be enjoying themselves and thus be intrinsically motivated.

Deci & Ryan (1991) describe a ‘self determination’ theory which says any social context that promotes an individual’s

“Make it relevant/enjoyable for the student”

Covington (2000) says that if you make the learning relevant and enjoyable for the student they will be more interested in it and this has the potential to combat any negative grades achieved. In fact, it is better in terms of motivation for a student to be personally interested and fail than to succeed but have no interest in it.

Covington (2000) actually suggests running a school around children’s personal interests.

“Make them proud of what they do”

Covington (2000) says that a good grade makes a student feel proud and in turn increases their motivation to learn.

“Set high goals”

Covington (2000) says that a student that has a high goal but doesn’t reach it is more intrinsically motivated to improve than one that is compared to others. This is because competing against others is a ‘personal’ failure in comparison but failing to reach a goal about the goal itself. It’s almost impersonal.

Setting challenging work for students (Csikszentmi- halyi, 1988; Deci & Ryan, 1992)

“Let them take control”

Deci & Ryan, 1987, 1992; Ginsburg & Bronstein, 1993; Grolnick & Ryan, 1989; Ryan & Stiller, 1991 all found that allowing students to be autonomous rather than being controlled showed greater instrincic motivation.

“An ‘academic’ home life makes a student more intrinsically motivated”

Gottfried et al (1998) found this to be true in a longitudinal study. In summary:

“Home environment had statistically positive and significant, direct and indirect paths to academic intrinsic motivation from childhood through early adolescence, indicating both short- and long-term effects across these ages. Moreover, home environment was significant above and beyond SES(Socio-Economic Status). The findings revealed that children whose homes had a greater emphasis on learning opportunities and activities were more academically intrinsically motivated” (p1448)

Does it all matter?

Gottfried (1990) summarises  that intrinsic motivation is positively related to achievement, IQ, and perception of competence. Academically gifted children were found to have more intrinsic motivation to learn.

It also links to persistence, enjoyment, involvement and curiosity.
Benware & Deci 1984, Ryan & Grolnick 1986 found that intrinsic motivation has a significant impact on high quality learning.

Covington (2000) summarises

“students are more likely to value what they are learning, and to enjoy the process, (a) when they are achieving their grade goals; (b) when the dominant reasons for learning are task oriented reasons, not self aggrandizing or failure-avoiding reasons; and (c) when what they are studying is of personal interest.” (p24)

References

Extrinsic Rewards and Intrinsic Motivation in Education: Reconsidered Once Again

Edward L. Deci, Richard Koestner and Richard M. Ryan
Review of Educational Research , Vol. 71, No. 1 (Spring, 2001), pp. 1-27

“What’s Everybody so Excited about?”: The Effects of Teacher Enthusiasm on Student Intrinsic Motivation and Vitality

 Brian C. Patrick, Jennifer Hisley and Toni Kempler
The Journal of Experimental Education , Vol. 68, No. 3 (Spring, 2000), pp. 217-236

Intrinsic versus Extrinsic Motivation in Schools: A Reconciliation

 Martin V. Covington
Current Directions in Psychological Science , Vol. 9, No. 1 (Feb., 2000), pp. 22-25

Role of Cognitively Stimulating Home Environment in Children’s Academic Intrinsic Motivation: A Longitudinal Study

 Adele Eskeles Gottfried, James S. Fleming and Allen W. Gottfried
Child Development , Vol. 69, No. 5 (Oct., 1998), pp. 1448-1460

Reinforcement, Reward, and Intrinsic Motivation: A Meta-Analysis

 Judy Cameron and W. David Pierce
Review of Educational Research , Vol. 64, No. 3 (Autumn, 1994), pp. 363-423
Academic intrinsic motivation in young elementary school children.
Gottfried, Adele E.
Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol 82(3), Sep 1990, 525-538
Continuity of academic intrinsic motivation from childhood through late adolescence: A longitudinal study.
Gottfried, Adele Eskeles; Fleming, James S.; Gottfried, Allen W.
Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol 93(1), Mar 2001, 3-13.
What motivates children’s behavior and emotion? Joint effects of perceived control and autonomy in the academic domain.
Patrick, B. C., Skinner, E. A., & Connell, J. P. (1993).
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,65, 781–791.
Advertisement

What if we didn’t ever use grades with students?

Standard

I have already blogged on how I think data should be more about the learner and what’s happening in their learning, the current mindset on grades and also how we could report without any grades or levels. Students are focused on grades and in some cases they mean more to them than formative feedback. My own small research shows this:

Picture2

Students value a grade/level more than formative comments.

This makes me consider,

What if we never give, refer to or report any numbers?

From a secondary point of view, key stage 3 is the simplest so I will consider key stage 4/5.

Most schools use key stage 2 data to look at progress through to key stage 4 using this from the DfE to decide if it is less/as/more than expected progress.

Screen Shot 2011-07-22 at 11.04.39

Teachers and consequently students are under pressure to move their grade towards at least expected. This method relies on teachers knowing what a student needs to do in their work to move on a grade, two grades etc  There is pressure on teachers to ensure the student is ‘on track’ and sometimes the pressure means that teachers add inflated predictions to the data collection system.

Grades seem to have a power to change attitudes and behaviour but not necessarily for the good. Lots of research has been done on the impact of summative feedback over grades.

Kohn sums up the key issues with grading:

  1. Grades tend to reduce students’ interest in the learning itself
  2. Grades tend to reduce students’ preference for challenging tasks.
  3.  Grades tend to reduce the quality of students’ thinking
  4. Grades aren’t valid, reliable, or objective.
  5. Grades distort the curriculum.
  6. Grades waste a lot of time that could be spent on learning
  7. Grades encourage cheating.
  8. Grades spoil teachers’ relationships with students.
  9. Grades spoil students’ relationships with each other

So I propose we consider dropping how grades are used by most schools at the moment and consider the impact of a different model.

What are the alternatives?

  1. Give feedback first, then grades once students have responded to feedback
  2. Give feedback first and the grade a week later
  3. Never give students grades on individual pieces of work but an overall grade at a given time i.e once a term
  4. Never give students grades but teachers record these in a mark-book which isn’t shared with students/parents
  5. Never give students grades until a grade is needed i.e a reference for further study

Phil Race also suggests this process for feedback:

Picture1

Featured in Phil’s book – Making Learning happen

Potential issues with these

  • The grade is still the important factor
  • Some teachers choose give students grades
  • Students don’t know how they are relatively progressing across their subjects.
  • Parents & students might not ‘like’ it. Current mindset is grades matter.
  • Progression can’t be mapped so neatly in an excel spreadsheet or graph.
  • Teachers will have to use exam board criteria carefully and knowledgeably. (an issue?)
  • A current trend in assessment is using diagnostic questioning using multiple choice. How can you ‘not’ report a %?
  • Will it move back to the old APP grid style marking? (Is this a problem?)

Potential benefits

  • Students don’t compare so much
  • They’re always focused on what they need to do to improve
  • Teachers may focus more carefully on what students need to do to improve
  • The converse of Kohn’s list

Possible resolutions

  • Start this process in year 7 so they know no different
  • Diagnostic/Multiple choice
    • Don’t give % at all. Analyse question by question with them for understanding. ( but they will then add up their correct/incorrect answers!)
    •  or use these at intervals during the learning. Only report to students the improvement % not the actual % For example at the start of the course a student gets 2/15 and in the middle 7/15 and by the en 12/15. You would tell them their increase not how many they got right.
  • Use KS2 data to tell students/parents their expected KS4 grade and then use ‘on track’ and ‘not on track’ with students and parents – Isn’t this essentially what they want to know?
  • Use Phil’s process – using marks but student generated

Is it worth ditching grades or instead, refining summative feedback so that grades become less important?

References

Kohn –  http://www.alfiekohn.org/article/degrading-de-grading/   includes a nice list of references for further reading

Phil Race – Making Learning Happen

Reflections from #StrictlyRE – On the edge of something big

Standard

Thanks so much to the NATRE team and everyone who ran sessions. I felt it was a conference at the front of the changes in RE. We are about to embark in a period of change and whilst it may be worrying, it has the potential to redefine how we teach & how children experience religions. We’re on the edge of something big…..

I thought I would reflect on my thoughts on the issues raised,mainly on knowledge and assessment. My thoughts are mainly a result of Deborah, Daniel and Dilwyn’s sessions and previous concerns about assessment without levels. I will, as usual, play devil’s advocate and ask questions. Please do respond to them in the comments.

Core knowledge

It was suggested that, like other NC subjects we should have a set of core knowledge that we expect every child to have at a certain point e.g at the end of each key stage. I agree with this. I think it would help to resolve an issue that secondary teachers have in that children come to us with a wide range of knowledge. If they’ve been in a faith school, their knowledge of a particular religion far outweighs that of those who may have had little/no RE.

However would this core knowledge apply to faith schools? I believe it should.

Assessing the core knowledge

  • Whilst new systems of assessment are up for grabs at the moment, is there a danger that the core knowledge will become like a check list and that proof of the knowledge will come in the form of testing over and over?
  • Will some teachers see the list of knowledge as the minimum and only address the minimum and do nothing more all year?
  • Will some schools aim to whiz through all the core knowledge in one or two days and then have no more RE?
  • Will core knowledge reduce our subject to rote learning of facts and lose the uniqueness of what else it has to offer?
  • How does this work with whole school data tracking systems which I’m sure schools won’t just ‘drop? 
Will core knowledge become a checklist?

Will core knowledge become a check -list?

A hierarchy of core knowledge

I missed Dilwyn’s second session where I think he went through this. Daniel briefly mentioned the importance of knowledge as well. We have a problem in schools the misinterpretation of Bloom’s Taxonomy has been used to perpetuate the myth that ‘knowledge’ is a low-level skill.

Would you say these surgeons were low level with their amount of knowledge?

Would you say these surgeons were low-level learners with their level of knowledge?

However we need to be careful that we don’t think that higher level knowledge is just about knowing more. It is about knowing more, in-depth. Higher level knowledge becomes very specific and focussed.

So if we go this way, will we start a whole new system, that is essentially levels of knowledge?

Were levels in themselves the issue or the way in which they were used? 

Should knowledge be the only thing we assess? 

Whilst sat pondering this I found some suggested models of hierarchy of knowledge. I haven’t yet had time to digest and apply these but here they are for reference. If anyone knows more about these it would be great to hear.

If I think about this in my own practice I have recently been teaching Buddhism to year 9 and have a very able group. I haven’t taught a class like this before so I’ve had to really think about what I can do to challenge them. I decided to focus at the concept of Enlightenment and how it is achieved. We really drilled down on different interpretations of how to gain Enlightenment & then critiqued these views in order to conclude which may be the ‘best’ way to become Enlightened. Students were encouraged to do their own independent research and I offered them some seriously high level, in-depth content. As it was the first time I’ve taught this there is so much I will do differently next time but I think I had an insight in how depth of knowledge on one aspect began to challenge them more than if I’d spent those lessons going through ‘more’ Buddhism with them.

In the next topic I am going to trial getting them to choose their own ‘drill down’ question that they need to research and write an academic argument on. I think I will have a wide variety of outcomes which I will risk being less than if I ‘dictate’ to them what they should do but I’m prepared to allow them to ‘jump into the deep end’.

This leads neatly into…

Academic Rigour

This group have taught me that I need to really begin to focus on what makes a high level RS student from the top down. I think that embedding critical thinking skills (reasoning & assessing credibility) will help us to achieve a high level of rigour.The TES reported that too many children are leaving school without the critical thinking skills that are needed for university. I really believe that this is an opportunity for RS to develop key skills needed in life and in turn help students to create high quality academic pieces of writing.

This idea fits in neatly with the new GCSE and A level draft objectives so developing it lower at key stage 3 seems to be a logical step for us to take.

Draft GCSE

The new draft objectives link directly to critical thinking skills.

Academic rigour – What I’m trying out

I am trialling using critical thinking skills with students to support them in achieving a good standard of academic writing.  I will be sharing some of my findings at #TLAB15  Sorry for the plug!) and will also blog on it.

Daniel Hugill also mentioned those disciplines that are mentioned in most Exceptional Performance descriptors at key stage 3.

‘disciplines and methodologies for the study of religion: history, sociology, psychology, linguistic analysis, literary criticism, and theology’

I really want to investigate what these might ‘look like’ at key stage 3. How can we, in such a small amount of time with the students, get them to use all of these in their work? It seems impossible but maybe now this is the time, to think how we can manage this effectively.

I’m also trialling the use of ‘optional research (homework)’ by putting some recommended articles on our ShowMyHomework system so if anyone fancies some ‘around the topic reading’ they have a starting point. Unfortunately I don’t know how much this is used. It would be great to have a ‘hit’ counter’.

Finally I’m training them to evaluate views and suggest conclusions without using the word ‘I’. some find it odd but I’m trying to teach them that a conclusion should be decided from logical reasoning not ‘just what they think’ or in some cases ‘what they’ve been told (by an adult?)’.

I’m considering how I can create a ‘tool kit’ (sorry for the edu cliché with huge respect to recently deceased Paul) to support students in achieving academic rigour in the study of religions. Is this possible?

Teacher Research & Reflection on Pedagogy

This wasn’t mentioned in any of the sessions I attended but I think it is also what we as a community need to engage in more. If we are putting more rigour into the study of religions then we too must engage in a study of how we are teaching it. Most of us probably do this without thinking. We try something. If it doesn’t work we ditch it or tweak it. Some of us share our successes so others can use it and tweak it. However I feel that with the statistics of how many non-specialists we have teaching our subject and people worrying about resources we are on a back foot with this one.

Do we as a community think about learning? how we teach? rather than asking people for resources for the topic we are teaching? There seems to be a current trend of sharing resources & worksheets rather than sharing HOW we’re teaching. The talented Andy Lewis has shared some research he is doing but in his Head of Year role (who cares!) however there is far less interest in this than if someone offers to share a scheme of work. Those of us that are specialists, do we need to spend more time thinking about the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ alongside the ‘what’?

This post was never supposed to be so long so I’m going to stop. Any comments very welcome.

Exciting times.

Does learning & ‘showing progress’ always have to involve new content?

Standard

A teaching & learning leader told me that to be able to show progress in a lesson you cannot be just dealing with what you already know. There has to be new content. Gaining confidence in something was not acceptable and would result in no progress and therefore the lesson would be inadequate.

I ignored her at the time and carried on teaching as I always have. Of course when observed, I played the game and ensured it happened to be a new content section being observed. I knew she hadn’t actually thought about what she was saying. She was just repeating what the expensive Ofsted consultant had told her. What she actually meant was that, in the opinion of the inspector, you will not be graded outstanding unless everyone in the room can recall something at the end of the lesson that they didn’t know at the beginning.

So why don’t  I believe this to be true?

Firstly she has reduced a complex matter of learning down to one simple outcome. ‘You can tell me something you couldn’t have told me at the start of the lesson’. In a way, it didn’t even really matter what it was or how complex the idea was, just that you could prove they didn’t already know it.

Secondly, she failed to acknowledge that when we ask children what they already know, they’re not always accurate or have the same criteria for ‘knowing’. If I was to ask a student ‘Do you know the differences between the Catholic Church and the Church of England?’ they may respond ‘Yes’ only for me to find out that all they know is that one of them allows divorce. They’re correct but that’s not really just what I was after. It depends on what and how we ask them about prior knowledge as to what they will say they already know.

Keeping with this point, I am convinced there are children out there who have cottoned on to this. They know that if at the start of the lesson they say they know nothing, it will take less effort for them during the lesson to go through what they actually already know than to learn something new. Essentially we are lazy learners and the easy life is much more preferable.

Next I have reflected on my own learning to see if what she said is true. In the past 12 months I have immersed myself into Twitter, blogging and have attended as many of the edu events around the country that I could afford to. I will be honest, I haven’t ‘learnt’ anything new in some of the optional sessions that I have attended. I mean I heard things I’ve heard before. However, I believe that I still learnt from these sessions. By listening to things I already knew I thought about them more, I reconsidered if they were applicable/useful to me in my practice, I patted myself on the back if I felt I was doing it well already and some times I day dreamed and thought through things I wouldn’t have normally had time to think about regarding my practice. In these cases it wasn’t the ‘knowledge’ that was important but my own reflections, how the sessions made me feel and how they boosted my confidence.  Time for reflection has been key to my learning. Cheesy as it sounds I was nourished by being surrounded by like minded people. People that cared so much about education they’d given up their own time and possibly money to be there. That in itself was part of my learning. This would all be ‘inadequate’ using her criteria.

Finally, her reasoning was that unless you could somehow display your learning then it hadn’t occurred. If there wasn’t anything on the post-it note at the end then learning hadn’t happened and the child had made no progress. As we know, this is utter nonsense. Learning does not necessarily happen in neat chunks. Its not always visible. And interestingly the learning that has happened may not be exactly what the objectives said it should be. In my case, in the sessions where I had already heard the content, my learning was probably not as the presenter had planned nor what they would ever know about. It was personal to me.

Many schools have woken to the realisation that this Ofsted myth was in fact exactly that, a myth. In the meantime  it has destroyed the confidence of thousands of teachers across the country, me being one of them. The damage it has done is immeasurable. Should we all write it on a post-it to measure it?

I know the whole progress in a lesson thing is old news but like a bad relationship it has taken me a while to get over the insanity of it all. I haven’t done much reading around this area and maybe should but my instinct is that the answer is ‘no’. Learning is more than learning facts in a 60 minute period that can be regurgitated at the end. Learning is more subtle and in many cases far too difficult to pinpoint. We need to consider individuals and their learning instead of making broad statements about progress. We need to engage with research and theory rather than with expensive consultants who come to ‘tell us’ things*. We should be wary of just accepting things education and be open to discuss learning instead of telling people how to teach. Only then can we genuinely start to reflect on our own teaching and what ‘works’.

* There are some fabulous consultants out there. It’s the way in which schools use them that is the problem.

Strategies to help students with terminal exams

Standard

As a teacher who has only ever taught subjects with 100% terminal exams I have developed strategies to deal with this. I have also had to deal with seeing students once a fortnight and regularly not seeing them for four or six weeks due to holidays or interrupted lessons.

So I thought I’d share some ideas of how schools may start to work with their staff on a coherent strategy to ensure students always do their best in this exam.

  • Practice makes perfect – ‘Mock’ exams – we manage to squeeze in 1 full mock exam before they sit their paper. Maybe schools should have regular practice of this? I believe it should be in the exact location, under the exact same conditions that they will be in in the real exam. It is about the ‘experience’ and ‘feeling’ of an exam that has the potential to make a difference
  • Find out which students have exam nerves. Find someone in school who can run a series of sessions on how to control nerves etc
  • Playing the ‘game’ – exam boards have their own rules and in some cases ‘hidden’ hoops. I teach students these from the first lesson. I believe that taking an exam is about 60% skill of answering the questions in the correct manner and 40% knowledge. i.e if you know HOW to answer the question without much knowledge you will do better than having complete knowledge and no idea how to do the exam.
  • Forewarned is forearmed – I believe students should see exemplar exam papers as early as possible. If they know what it looks like and touch them and see what they’re like, they’re less likely to choose the question they never studied or the question on a text they never read.
  • Homework – The homework I set has a direct link to what is needed in the exam. Is ‘finishing’ a piece of work a good use of homework time? Would it be better used embedding what they’ve learnt in class, to help with the memorisation of the topic?
  • Memory – I’ve been in contact with @davidfawcett27  this week. He has strategically planned his course based on research on how memory works. This includes common sense things like repetition of concepts and using thinking skills to stimulate independent thinking. I THINK THIS HAS THE POTENTIAL TO HAVE THE MOST IMPACT and I really want to start to use ideas in my course.
  • Tracking & monitoring – if we are accurately tracking and monitoring student progress, including across subjects we have a powerful tool to see how a student may perform in an exam. We can then do something about it. The problem is, it must be meaningful data. Teachers need to work together and have guidance on what this means in their subject.
  • Intervention strategies – At teacher, head of subject and whole student level this can have a massive impact. If we have the accurate data we can then do what is needed to ensure the student achieves. If we are doing regular testing, we can easily find out what a student’s strengths and weaknesses are. There can then be personalised intervention.
  • Teacher collaboration – We are the people teaching the students. We see them on a daily basis. We know how they think and how they work. Staff should be given time to discuss and share successful strategies. You never know, one member of staff may have the ‘magic touch’ with a student whilst the rest of his/her teachers are struggling. If this is shared, that student will have a better chance of success.
  • ‘Mock’ results day – I’ve seen this happen in other schools but haven’t done it myself. On a day after a series of mock exams students receive their results in an envelope, in the hall, as they would on the real results day. The idea is that any shock that may happen, happens in the mocks not on the real day.
  • High expectations – I’m really focusing on this, this year. ‘OK’ is not good enough. ‘No homework’ is not good enough. ‘sloppy presentation’ is not good enough. This creates an ethos. If the whole school does this, expectations change and the ethos changes.
  • Stress management – How many schools offer students stress management sessions? drop-in at lunch time? My year 11s are already saying their stressed. They still have 7 months!
  • 24/7 learning – Students work at weird times. For sure when I’m in bed snoozing! However, if we provide them with the facility to work when they want to with a high level of support then this may help. Students can email me anytime ( although I don’t keep my email on 24/7!), we have all resources on our website, staff are using Edmodo, I have a subject Twitter account, I have put help videos on the website for them and I have used podcasts in the past.
  • AfL using exam papers – Towards the real exam, my students are so sick of doing practice papers. They do a paper, I mark it, with feedback, they make improvements. They do another exam, reminding themselves before what they did wrong last time, and I repeat as many times as I possibly can! I keep a record of how they do on specific question types. I can then focus on specific intervention and students can focus on their weak areas in class. I truly believe that no work my students do is summative except for the final exam.

How about using a staff INSET day (or CPD session) to think about these and to share ideas/resources? Now that may have some impact!

Apologies for all the cliches 😉