Confidence to succeed: Growth Mindset

We have been working on promoting a Growth Mindset with staff and students for the last few months. To be fair, the school ethos has always had more of a growth rather than fixed mindset.

It is always quite tricky working on a school priority that is so heavily based on “soft” data, so I was particularly pleased to see the results of some of our work. Following a Learning for Life (PSHE) lesson on the Growth Mindset, about a week later, we asked all students to fill in a card.

The blanks were worded as follows:

“I have made progress in ……..     because I ………. ”

There were cases of “I have made progress in science because I got a 6c”and “I made progress in French because my name was not on the bad side”. Clearly some work needs to be done here.

However, there were also some great answers:

The plan is to display these on a Confidence to Succeed wall, and broadcast them in front of the lunch queue. I guess I ought to ask the History/ Politics team about the place of propaganda. “Did Stakhanov display a Growth Mindset?” Discuss.

(The idea for the cards came from the Growth Mindset conference at Durrington High School last year – thanks to @atharby and @shaun_allison)



School Direct ponderings

Before teaching, I spent two years working for a French company. It was an interesting, brilliant experience; I even took a trip to Barcelona to negotiate with some clients. But it was not what I wanted. I didn’t want to spend my life in the commercial world, doing little good for anyone apart from the company boss.

I have since spent 24 years teaching and nearly always love it. That is until recently when aspects of my job have resembled challenges on the Apprentice. Welcome back to the commercial world!

This brings me to last Monday afternoon. I found myself “selling” my school to people from the local area interested in teaching. I don’t have a problem with promoting my school. Due to the hard work of many and in particular @MarkQui12591531 , our school was recently awarded a Gold Quality Mark in Professional Development. It is a great place to learn for all of us. My problem was the fact that there were about 25 of us, from about 12 schools, in a school Learning Resource Centre, wasting one of our most precious resources – time! Many of my colleagues there were Heads, Deputies or Assistant Heads. We were there for 3 hours. So we are looking at 75 hours. Should this time not have been better spent improving teaching and learning in our respective schools?

I understand the logic. We rationalise that in order to recruit the best in an uncertain market, we need to be involved from the start. I am quite new to the world of teacher training and possibly don’t understand all the reasons behind the move to School Direct, but it all seems rather irrational to me. Lots of teachers around the country are spending time navigating the UCAS website, producing publicity materials, answering email enquiries about whether a degree in African Studies is acceptable to be able to teach Geography. Lots of teachers rather than a few expert admissions officers in universities?

Moving on from Monday, I get back to a few days doing what I’m quite good at – teaching. Thursday evening is spent catching up with Monday’s marking and then – midnight strikes – “ping”  – an email. I open it, “Stop recruiting to school-led fee PE postgraduate ITT courses with immediate effect”. It goes on to tell me how I will be punished if I do not do as “instructed”.


Friday morning, partly recovered from being shouted at by email, I begin to wonder about these wonderful new PE recruits. I am sure many of them are going to be brilliant teachers. I then think back to the PE trainees we have had in our school, and wonder how many of them had been accepted by the start of December in previous years? Is speed of recruitment the best criteria for ensuring the quality of trainees?


I sent an email to my line manager saying, “I don’t want to play this game anymore!” Unfortunately, it is not a game. I just hope that these new rules, in this mad game, do not mean that we have lost the best contestants.



Explain! Describe! Analyse!

I recently helped deliver a Development session on how to teach students to deal with command words. This was interesting as it is not an area that I am very familiar with as an MFL teacher. I was lucky to work with a PE teacher and RE teacher and also used insider knowledge from helping my daughter with KS3 science revision.

We presented this powerpoint Literacy command words.

The final 40 minutes of our session was dedicated to the attendees working on materials and lesson plans that could use some of the strategies demonstrated.

3 PE teachers worked on examples of multiple-choice questions to model good answers.

2 H&S teachers used a version of Slow writing.

2 Technology teachers looked at using the live writing task.

2 drama teachers worked on Slow writing and live writing to help with A level.

Does “implicit” differentiation work? – The conclusion.

As outlined in a previous blog (Lesson study plan) we have been thinking about how good teaching incorporates “implicit” differentiation. We ran a Lesson Study project to examine whether we could identify strategies in use and observe the impact of these strategies on student learning.

A fuller write-up of the project is available here.Lesson study project differentiation 2015 

The conclusions:

Lesson study: 

Pros: All the teachers involved valued the opportunity to observe lessons in other departments and also to receive feedback on their own lessons. The focus on individual students was informative and provided insight into the impact on student learning. The student interviews were informative and, in most cases, helped confirm the conclusions from our observations.

Cons: It was relatively difficult to find time for joint planning and feedback , especially to try to give same-day feedback. We relied on the support of our line manager to cover lessons.

What next: We are convinced that it is a model that is helpful for CPD. One more Lesson Study project has already taken place at school and one of the Lead teachers will be working with schools across the Borough to develop more Lesson Study projects in local schools as well as ours.

“Implicit” differentiation

In all lessons there was clear evidence of students learning with an appropriate level of challenge, without the need for multiple-levelled worksheets.

We observed and noted the student reaction to the following strategies:

Knowing your students – seating plans/ collaborative learning/ directed support

Questioning – thinking time/ think-pair-share/ directed questioning

Feedback – verbal feedback to individuals and class

SEND– directed support following input

Highly Able – challenge for all/ directed questioning

Our conclusions are that “implicit” differentiation, as part of good teaching, can be effective in ensuring all learn at an appropriate level of challenge.

#TMLondon – A newbie’s experience

TeachMeet London was an extraordinary CPD experience. It felt like a live sporting event. At one point I did wonder whether I would have learnt more from the comfort of my arm chair – with the benefit of video replay, but it was important to actually be there.

You could not help but feel inspired by the mood and atmosphere of 200 plus teachers, many of whom were giving up holiday time to come and learn. Everyone was encouraged to get involved by tweeting. As a relative newcomer to tweeting as well, I struggled to type and listen and got a little lost in the plot at times, but it was fascinating to follow contributions from the audience and beyond, including some from colleagues unable to attend in person.

My overwhelming impression was that it is good to be a teacher. I also left wanting to learn more. We spend a lot of time at CPD talking about how to motivate and inspire students to learn. It was great to be inspired and motivated by CPD.

Unfortunately I’m not great at social media. I like to think I’m quite good at multi-tasking, but that clearly does not include the ability to tweet and listen. There are parts of the presentations that I will need to view again, especially to be able to share properly with colleagues in school.

In the meantime what am I going to do? (I will credit these later)

  • use the Questioning Matrix to encourage students to ask questions
  • share the Honda spreeding video for an assembly on life-long learning (a bit tenuous but it will work)
  • investigate the Apps mentioned
  • encourage colleagues to look carefully and spelling and grammar – perhaps trial the use of a Mistakes Auction to help with deal with misconceptions including SPaG
  • investigate Opening Minds – we used to follow a version in school – will it work with the new curriculum?
  • discuss the ideas of Think in Ink (rough books)
  • look at – to add spice to learning objectives and instructions
  • “Never interrupt learning for anyone coming into your lesson..” – guilty and have encouraged others to do it (no more)
  • remember “no magic beans”
  • invest in some lanyards for responsibility roles in collaborative learning
  • look at the videos and re-blog to give credit where credit is due
  • encourage colleagues to attend Enfield TeachMeet

Thanks to the organisers, presenters and the staff and students at Quintin Kynaston school.

I ♥ teaching this …..

I  ♥  teaching this …..

(An idea shown to me about 18 years ago by my first Head of Department.)

Valentine’s Day – Poetry with Year 8 French class

Script: (en français!)

Me: Hello all!

Class : Hello Miss!

Me : We’re going to be doing some poetry today.

Class: Groan!

On whiteboard

Moi sans toi c’est comme ……

L’école sans …

Le ciel sans ….

Une pizza sans …

Une main sans ….

(bague/ professeurs/ fromage/ soleil)

We remember how to use a dictionary: someone confident demonstrates at the front.

Students work out meaning of “sans” first – and work out title.

Then they use dictionaries to match up ends of lines.

We try to write a line together. I usually start with football, to stir up emotions. Today I decided to go with:

Spurs sans ……

….. a student then came up with ……. Harry Kane.

We move onto another exciting topic:

L’uniforme sans …….

….. and take the opportunity to look at how you need to work out the difference between verbs and nouns, by focusing on the word: tie.  A visualiser works really well here to show students how to find the correct translation.

Students then work on their own Moi sans toi poems.

I ran a competition today with 3 categories:

le plus romantique

le plus drôle

le plus original

This added some urgency to the proceedings and some wonderful poems.

The winners today were:

le plus romantique : un papillon sans ailes

le plus drôle : les dents sans plaque

le plus original : un cowboy sans chapeau

Marking = lesson planning = differentiated learning = #ChacePD

I’ve just finished marking a set of year 8 books – and almost enjoyed the experience!

Here’s my (part) lesson plan for Monday morning:

  1. Ask the students to remember the success criteria for the HW task. (Think/ pair/ share)
  2. Ask them to share one that they didn’t meet. (before they get their book back)
  3. Look at 4 or 5 examples (pictures using our visualiser IPEVO) and ask students to suggest what the mistakes are and how to correct them.

Here are the sorts of thing I will show (to replace with visualiser photos)

Typical mistakes:

a) Je suis allè au parc. C’etait amusant

b) Il est allé au Londres

c) Je visité le musée.

We will talk about where they can find out how to correct them, and correct them together on the board.


I double–tick really pleasing aspects of their work (connectives/ not “I”/ extended sentences/ variety of vocabulary). Students will need to explain why I have double-ticked parts of their work. This encourages them to extend their work in a similar way in future tasks.


Some students will have a mini-task to do. Examples:

T1 – write 2 more sentences using new opinions from the book.

T2 – write 3 more sentences changing the pronoun.

T3 (for those absent for HW) – do it!

T4 (for those absent when work handed in) – Try to correct work themselves based on what we’ve talked about.

  1. I will give them their books back and they will spend about 15 minutes looking through their work and improving it using green pens. I mark in red. Students do improvements in green – so that I and they(not SLT or Ofsted) can see what they have changed. The work is individualised and differentiated.
  1. Students have red cards in their planners and put on their desk if they are stuck. I circulate and help and nominate 2 or 3 “experts” from the class to assist as well.
  1. After the allocated time (nominally 15 minutes) students use the visualiser to talk through how they have improved their work.

Monday pm – #ChacePD

We are looking at sharing practice in marking. I will bring along the books so we can look at how the students have responded and discuss how it works in other subjects. A group of 20 Development Co-ordinators will lead sessions on marking in a couple of weeks. Our challenge will be to ensure that this session is differentiated.

So why did I almost enjoy it?

  • I didn’t waste time correcting everything – just indicating where the mistakes are.
  • I know that the students will do something about it.
  • It is clear that they have learnt a lot already (AfL strategies worked).
  • It was clear that many of them had learnt from the previous DIRT(dedicated improvement and reflection time) session, particularly on how to use resources effectively to support their HW.
  • It was very quick and easy to plan my next lesson.
  • I am reasonably confident that all students will be challenged in the next lesson.