Learning loss caused by the covid pandemic has led to a large number of catch-up initiatives internationally, such as the National Education Programme in the Netherlands, which provides schools with significant additional funding to address the issue. This and similar initiatives by national governments are to be welcomed, though the danger exists that money will be squandered rather than spent effectively. In this blog I will describe some evidence-based approaches to address learning loss.
I The teacher at the core
Notwithstanding some controversy around the term, the evidence that learning loss has arisen as a result of the pandemic is overwhelming, as is the fact that the gap is greatest among pupils from families with the lowest levels of education (Engzell, Frey & Verhagen, 2020; NFER, 2021). Government support to eliminate learning gaps is therefore welcome. However, effective interventions need to put the teacher …
I didn’t always include quizzes in my lessons. Quizzes, I believed, tested something superficial and English is far from being superficial. It seems strange to say this now when quizzing is everywhere.
It hardly feels necessary to state that retrieval improves retention. I’ve said this so many times to our teachers that I might need to stop saying it soon to avoid overstating the obvious.
But Yang, Luo, Vadillo, Yu and Shanks (2020) describe a small study from where the majority of teachers thought the main benefit of student self-testing was to find out what they didn’t know and only a fifth highlighted that testing would be better for retention than re-reading.
It made me wonder if the introduction of quizzes and knowledge organisers and all sorts of retrieval practices are understood or if I really understood the complexity of these things.
It’s been a very long term. We deserve a break. But already I find myself thinking of the challenges that await us in the autumn.
Many of my students had very successful lockdowns. I am proud of them. Next year they deserve a curriculum that builds upon the work they have done in remotely. Others have not been so lucky. I feel for them. They deserve the chance to go back over the work they missed or misunderstood, for you cannot build on sand. So I have been wondering, how can we use the curriculum to give all our students what they deserve?
Chemistry is full of connections and we have done our best to emphasise these in our GCSE curriculum. Below you can see a map of this curriculum, which is based on the OCR 21st Century Science course. The boxes are our modules and the lines…
There is SO much noise in the system about how we respond to the challenges of partial school closures.
I think there are some key principles that we need to adopt to ensure that pupils don’t become the Covid cohort. The biggest risk, as I see it, is that [as a system] we try to do too much, too soon. This could mean we exacerbate the challenges that Covid 19 has brought us. As with issues arising from long term disadvantage, it is not big structural changes that will address these challenges. Structural changes may lay the platform. But it’s what happens in the classroom that matters most.
The following principles, born out of work focussing on long term disadvantage, may help:
1. That strategies to negate the impact of Covid 19 should be intertwined with those to tackle long term disadvantage.
2. Everyone needs to be responsible for the response to Covid 19. Everyone needs to …
Feedback is meant to help students, but too often, it doesn’t. Students may not read it, may misunderstand it, or may not use it. If they clear each of these hurdles, they may still forget it by the next lesson. Meanwhile, giving feedback adds to our workload: it’s meant to be manageable, but too often, it isn’t.
Similarly, feedback is meant to help teachers. But too often, it doesn’t: too many issues are raised, goals are too vague, and there’s too little follow up. To make feedback useful, instructional coaching suggests we prioritise one small goal, practise it immediately, and return to it subsequently.
If teachers need focused feedback, surely students do too. Too often, my comments on students’ work were like an unhelpful observer’s to a teacher: I offered lots of …
As students return to schools, what are the subtle clues we can look for to check student understanding?
In just over a week, all students across the country will be returning to school – something we are all very much looking forward to. However, at the forefront of teachers’ minds will be how we are going to assess what students have understood during remote teaching, so that we can use this information to plan how we will fill these gaps. What we refer to as formative assessment.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in some monumental shifts to practice. Educators have taken a critical lens as to why they teach the way they do and how it can be done more effectively. For virtually every school that is, or will be, implementing some sort of remote or hybrid learning model, you can bet that videoconference tools will play an enormous role. While it is excellent that educators now have a variety of options at their disposal, there is a growing concern that has to be addressed if learning is the goal.
I need to get something off my chest. Have you heard of Zoom fatigue? It is a real thing I assure you, and it applies to Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, or any other similar platform. Facilitating professional learning using video conferencing tools is exhausting. I have experienced this firsthand over the past couple of weeks as I have worked with numerous districts on remote and hybrid pedagogy through all-day virtual workshops. Being put in this position empowered me to critically examine how the day would playout for the educators I was working with. In the end, I went with shorter …
I discovered that a ceramic pot had been broken yesterday. The pot was less than 5 months old. A year ago, I would have been very annoyed with this broken pot. The broken pot would have been taken to the tip.
This year, I didn’t see a broken pot. I saw an opportunity for something called ‘kintsugi’. And I think ‘kintsugi’ is an excellent way of reminding us to appreciate imperfection in our teaching. As a trainee teacher and, indeed, as a PGCE lecturer last year, I wish I had used the idea of kintsugi in my teaching and mentoring. Instead of feeling upset about broken relationships with students, or faulty teaching transitions, or lessons that smashed on impact, I might have embraced each imperfection. I might have encouraged my trainees to do the same.
Let me explain.
We tend deep down to be rather hopeful that we will –…
Earlier this week I was thrilled to be invited by Doug Lemov to take part in one of the online workshops run by his brilliant Uncommon Schools organisation. (You can find out more about the workshops here. ) It was such a great experience to engage with training that completely walked the talk: a workshop about excellent remote instruction, delivered via excellent remote instruction. The webinar was superb in every respect, with thanks to the enthusiastic, knowledgeable trainers Hannah Solomon and Brittany Hargrove and the great material.
The session was set up with a class-sized cohort of attendees so that trainers could model securing full participation and engagement. I enjoyed meeting Destiny from Texas, Melissa from Chicago and Marzia from Bangladesh in our break-out sessions. The use of video examples – a Teach Like A Champion trademark – certainly brought the whole scenario alive. The whole approach made…