I had a great opportunity today. With Yr 11s on their mocks, I had a free hour to visit another school and observe some excellent classroom practice. In 7 years teaching at my school, I hardly get chance to observe other members of the department, let alone going to another school, so I grabbed at the opportunity to spend a really fruitful hour soaking up fresh ideas.
Problem Solving Excellence
Although I only had the chance to go into one lesson, what struck me about it was the problem solving approach. A small amount of practice, with differing levels of difficulty, on rotation, was quickly followed by a combination of transformations challenge. Accessible to all at the start, but quickly made pupils think. Key information was given and highlighted by the teacher, but pupils were allowed to explore first. I know it’s nothing mind boggling new, but seeing it work was eye opening.
Having chatted to another member of staff after the lesson, it is clear it’s the nature of the scheme of learning and the culture within the department which enables this approach. I’m very interested in the mastery approach, but this is not something I can control in my department, being a mere minion, but it is something I can try and influence. The difference in being able to have time to learn, explore and problem solve over a few lessons instead of rattling through each topic per lesson must be invigorating.
Thinking about my classroom
So armed with a bucketful of ideas and having observed a successful different approach, my next step is to see how I can more successfully bring problem solving to my pupils. The more the pupils have access to problem solving, the more successful they will become at it. My difficulty will be squeezing it in to our packed scheme of learning. However, from September I had already started finding and sharing some rich tasks for year 7s, and this has given me new momentum to integrate these into my teaching.