Monday, 14 May 2012

Differentiation - is it worth it?

Today I had the last official workshop for one of my Learn IT Centre groups.  I've worked hard to try and accommodate their individual and diverse needs.  I've worked at home to locate errors in pages of code to help a single learner, and researched specific add-ons at the request of another.  I know the project that each learner has produced in pretty fine detail.  In the lessons, I try to 'teach' a skill, and then spend the second half of the lesson doing mini one-to-ones so that everyone gets something they want.

At the end of our class today, I was presented with a small gift and a lovely card.  All the learners had written something personal about what they had gained from the classes, and what stood out was how much they valued the efforts I have made to accommodate each individual learner.

So, was it worth it?  Well, in the words of those infamous X-factor judges.... "100% yes".  This is not about patting myself on the back - but it's more to remind myself that we must never forget that our 'learners' are all individual people with individual needs, and every so often they let you know that they appreciate it when we remember that.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Enjoying teaching

I've had a busy few weeks.  Teaching observation one week, Estyn visit the next.  I've upped my game, there's no doubt of that, and I'm better equipped to include useful ILT, differentiation, classroom management techniques and many of the other elements that make up an 'excellent' lesson.

Now, the pressure is off - at least in the respect of being seen to be doing the right thing.  And yet, my two lessons yesterday were equally effective despite being much less well prepared on paper.  I didn't have PowerPoints, printed activities or videos to watch.  I didn't have group work lined up, with clearly defined objectives, and well stated differentiation.  I didn't write about literacy or numeracy.  I just did it.

The 'magic trick' I did with one group (which went wrong because of lack of clear instructions) proved an excellent way to revisit earlier learning on binary and parity bits, including an example of the reason it can be less effective because of where it went wrong.  The installation of a hardware device that I did with another group (which went wrong because I forgot to include a vital instruction) meant that the learners worked out for themselves what was wrong and resolved it.  Instead of giving diagrams out and explaining them, I doodled on the board, taking on board comments from the students as I went.  The lessons evolved naturally, and the skills that I have developed wove into the lesson with seeming ease.

It's reassuring to have a day when you feel like you've done things right, and your students have gone home having had an interesting and fun lesson, whilst still learning something.  Let's hope there are many more of these.