There is little doubt that the way young people need to learn has changed over the years I have been teaching. I continue to work on how I teach and how the students learn and helping to implement the Middle Years Programme (an IB programme) into KS3 has helped me, in collaboration with teachers, to form our lesson principles. The idea that we all work towards delivering lessons that contain these principles is the main premise and the strength in what we do.
The principles are based on 5 concepts and these are:
- Engagement – we need to ensure that students understand the purpose and relevance of the lesson/s and that we deliver the lessons in a way that students engage with the process.
- Challenge – we should be enabling all students to progress and challenge themselves to push on their thinking
- Inquiry – we understand that students need to become more independent in the way they think. They need to solve problems, reason and find solutions by themselves or by discussing with their peers. We know this is how we will prepare our students for the wider world and to me, inquiry is the centre of our lesson principles
- Assessment for Learning – as a school we have been working hard on assessment and feedback and finding ways to ensure that students are fully part of being assessed and assessing themselves and their peers. Feedback should be constructive, collaborative and purposeful; therefore helping students truly to challenge themselves and therefore know exactly how to progress and become better thinkers.
- Pace – there is a belief that young people need rapidly paced lessons filled with a variety of activities in order to keep them interested. There is truth in this, I believe, but it has concerned me for a while that the idea rather panders to the 'short attention span' myth that students possess. If we want our students to be deep thinkers at times they need time to work on an activity to really form ideas. So it should all be about appropriate pace tailored to fit the purpose and aim of the lesson rather than a 'three ring circus'