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Skip to 0 minutes and 12 seconds One tool I really like to recommend in schools is that of the Golden Lesson. If we love our students to have more ability to risk take and to innovate in the classroom, one of the key things or questions is, is it in the staffroom as well? And quite often, I think teachers can feel somewhat oppressed by an orthodoxy where they feel they have to play safe especially when they’re being observed. Well the Golden Lesson is a lovely remedy for that. And the Golden Lesson is not necessarily an excellent lesson. It’s simply a lesson in which you take a chance with some of the ways in which you go about teaching, breaking your habits. What could you do slightly differently?

Skip to 0 minutes and 54 seconds And it doesn’t have to be the whole lesson at all. It might just be three minutes of a lesson. So what does that mean in practice? It might be trying a little technique that you haven’t tried before. Using different kinds of questions and seeing what that does to the kind of thinking in the classroom. It might be changing the seating arrangement. Maybe you’ve had some doubts about having a circle of chairs and dialogue in a science lesson. But you’re going to give it a go, see if it’s got anything to offer. Or it might be a lovely experiment which I observed a few terms ago. One teacher decided to half their average talk time to see what happened.

Skip to 1 minute and 30 seconds She timed it, had a teaching assistant time it, it was about 33% of the lesson. Halved it almost, but found that the resilience, the openness, the responsibility, the independence in the lesson dramatically changed. What a great experiment. So this is something that the school might do as a whole. Let’s say Wednesday morning at some point everybody does a Golden Lesson. And that could work wonderfully with lesson observations as well. Where you invite an observer and say, look, ‘I’m taking a risk in this way. I’d love your feedback about that element.’ To make it a coaching experience rather than a verdict.

The 'Golden Lesson': Modelling challenging yourself

We have looked extensively this week at ways to support girls in responding positively to challenge. In this step, we look at the importance of education professionals modelling this, by taking on challenge themselves. The Effective Pedagogies for Girls’ Learning report argues:

Girls’ learning is not simply a matter of what happens in the classroom but depends on, and is closely related to, professional learning. How can pupils learn well if their teachers do not see themselves as learners or are not continuously open to extending and challenging their work? How can teachers learn well if the school is not a learning organisation, a place which is constantly challenging itself to do better and extending the skills of all its members?

(Effective Pedagogies for Girls’ Learning, Younger, 2016)

In this video, Will Ord introduces the idea of a ‘Golden Lesson’, a tool for teachers to model risk taking themselves through a lesson in which they try something new.

Will Ord is a nationally known trainer and speaker, specialising in Philosophy for Children, Great Learning, Outstanding Lessons, and School Development. He has been a teacher, university lecturer, Chair of SAPERE, an author, a writer for the TES, and has trained thousands of teachers in twenty countries over the last decade.

After watching Will Ord describe Golden Lessons, design your own ‘golden lesson’ to teach this week. Try something new and reflect on the impact of it with your learners, then come back to this step and post about your reflections on the experience in the comments below.

If it isn’t term time in your part of the world or you are not currently teaching, plan a lesson to deliver when you return. Tell the other learners what innovation you plan to try.

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This video is from the free online course:

Girls' Education: Teaching Strategies That Develop Confidence, Resilience and Collaboration

Girls' Day School Trust