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Reflect on your learning with Jane & Yeasmin

Now is the time to take a moment to reflect on what you’ve learnt this week.
JANE WINTER: Hello everyone, and welcome to our first video diary for differentiation for learning. I’m Jane Winter, and this is my colleague Yeasmin Mortuza. And we’re both mentors on the course, and have been thoroughly enjoying reading your comments. Please keep them coming. And I’m going to pass over to Yeasmin, who’s got a comment from Clarissa to talk about.
YEASMIN MORTUZA: That’s right. Thank you very much, Jane. Clarissa, thank you for your comment which came early on in the course, where people were giving their various descriptions of differentiation, what they thought it was before had actually taken on the course. I thought Clarissa’s definition was really good, mainly because it’s really broad. I think differentiation is a broad subject. And what I liked about Clarissa’s explanation is that it draws from a broad range of resources. So, she talks about planning for different groups, and she refers to a broad range of teaching techniques. Hands on, peer revision, individual reading, et cetera. She talks about a range of assessing students as well along the way.
And what I like about her list of assessment tools is they range from the informal to the formal. So yes, it’s OK to give them quizzes, it’s OK to give them tests as well, but you’re probably not going to do that every lesson. So, important to be picking up as much information as possible to help the teacher make useful decisions. So, things like talking to them, or eavesdropping on them, that type of informal source of information is just as important as quizzes and things like hinge point questions. And also, then how you react or respond to the evidence can draw equally from that broad range of teaching pedagogies. So, thank you very much, Clarissa, for your comment.
I’m going to hand back over to Jane to the next comment from– I’ll hand over to Jane.
JANE WINTER: Hello. Thank you, Efstratia for your comment. I hear you loud and clear. Quite frankly, how could you meet the needs in such detail of 300 and 400 students a week when you see them for one hour each? You’re expecting too much of yourself. So don’t worry, that’s not what differentiation is all about. It is about meeting everybody’s needs, but it’s not all on your shoulders. Because if you did that, who’d be doing all the work in the classroom? It’d be you. And who should be doing the work? It should be the students as well. It should be a team effort, shouldn’t it? It’s all about setting up the right routines and strategies.
It’s about encouraging children to take responsibility and make choices. And when you get that right, the differentiation should begin to look after itself. And it is not about you having to do all that work. Even if you never went to bed you wouldn’t get it all done, would you? So, thank you for raising that. I think you’ve said what a lot of teachers are thinking there, Efstratia.. So I think you’ve got a comment from Tina now, Yeasmin.
YEASMIN MORTUZA: I have indeed. And I think the last comment– and hopefully all the comments all the way through– illustrate that we do like to answer some of these deeper questions and deal with these queries that do come up in topics like differentiation. So it’s really important that you’re honest, and really looking at their own practise and sharing it in an honest and transparent way. So, thank you for that. So, Tina raises an issue about– well, a thought rather– about making mistakes. And all throughout the course we talk about how it’s OK for students to learn mistakes. And we want to create a culture where they take that risk and it doesn’t feel like a risk.
It feels like a normal part of learning. But Tina also mentions– particularly in secondary school, I would say– that we’re also preparing them for the world of work, and outside world, which may not be so forgiving. And mistakes may be perceived in a completely different way in the outside world. It could be costly. Mistakes can be costly. So in this case, I would say that one way of looking at it is maybe to think of the mistakes as two types of mistakes. Maybe when we talk about mistakes in learning, maybe they’re not mistakes at all. They’re part of the learning process. A mistake implies wrongdoing or an error, whereas in learning, there’s no wrongdoing or error.
This is the steps that they would go through in order to get secure understanding. And so maybe that’s one of the things that we can portray those steps as essential in learning so that we remove that fear of consequence. At the same time, we can talk about, well, what do you do in the outside world when we do make mistakes? When some of it runs parallel to mistakes made in the classroom. And this is, well, yeah, there may be consequences. So we have to face the consequences. And I know that Jane is going to talk about that in the next slide.
So, it’s important that the students actually know how to do that, and that we were able to give them the confidence to take on those consequences, if you like. But actually, there shouldn’t be any, because they’re not in the workplace. School is a dedicated learning environment. So if you think about even in the world of profession, there’s usually a training period before they go on to do something. So pilots, for example, would use simulators. Doctors, surgeons would practise not on live bodies before they go on to do the real thing. So there is a training phase. And the training phase is where those mistakes can emerge risk free.
So it’s important that we nurture that environment and make it clear to them that this is a place where you do your learning. And it’s very, very important that you feel able to disclose what you understand without any fear of consequence. So, thank you very much Tina for raising that point. I’ll hand back over to Jane for the next comment.
JANE WINTER: Yes, thank you for your comment, Ruth. I love this. And I think it is so important. Ruth says she always owns her mistakes. Slightly contrary to the last slide, in that we’re saying, actually, everybody makes mistakes, even experts make mistakes. Back to that example of an airline pilot that Yeasmin talked about. Yep, they practise in the simulator and try and make sure that they don’t make mistakes. but they accept that actually, mistakes do happen, so they have lots of procedures in place to try and embrace it. So if a mistake happens, the plane doesn’t crash. The same in hospitals.
Now, all the forms are signed and little procedures are to go through before a patient goes down to the operating theatre. What side the operation is going to be on is marked on in black pen, and forms are filled, and everything is done in triplicate. So that if someone makes a mistake, someone else can pick it up, because mistakes are part of being human. We’re not machines, we will make mistakes. And so, Ruth, this is so powerful. We’ve got to show children that yep, mistakes happen. And what you do when you make a mistake isn’t try and cover it up, it’s own the mistake, say sorry, maybe give a little bit of explanation. I’m sorry I got cross yesterday.
I shouldn’t have done it. I was really tired, my baby had me up all night, or whatever. But own the mistake, and do what you can to correct it. If children aren’t ashamed of the mistakes, and can carry them there’s less like to be repercussions. Again, in hospitals, if people start to cover up mistakes, it can actually lead to more problems than if everyone was open in the first place. So, thank you so much, Ruth. This is such an important part of education, which is often missing. Because sometimes we don’t feel secure enough to admit that we were wrong because we’re in a certain role, and we haven’t got that confidence. So, great, great comment there, Ruth.
Thank you very much. And I think you’ve got something from Begoña now, Yeasmin.
YEASMIN MORTUZA: Indeed. Thank you very much, Begoña, for your comment and comments throughout. So, this particular comment that you made, Begoña, to me it looked like a description of a career progression, if you like. Going from what less experienced teachers might do with regards to differentiation through to what a more experienced teacher would do. Jane and I, we love doing these courses, because we think the materials are so rich and so powerful. And every run through we go through, we do ourselves as mentors, we come out learning new things from the experts and from our peers as well. Differentiation is a career-long process. It’s not a quick fix, a one hit wonder.
It’s not something you go on an inset programme once and you come away, and OK, presto, you can now differentiate. Differentiation is a big deal. It’s really about the very core of good teaching and learning. And so from that point of view, it is actually, I believe, it is a career-long development process. And so, it’s very important that teachers look at it that way so that their development of it is an ongoing process. And so not to fear it, not to be put off by it, and to manage the learning of differentiation in manageable chunks, and allow for that teacher’s progression curve to develop as well.
And so it’s perfectly fine for a newer teacher to be taking baby steps in differentiating their resources or their approach to their lesson plan. Then just building it up along the way. And so how a less experienced teacher would differentiate would of course look different to how a more experienced teacher would do. And I hope that that goes some way to alleviating some of the anxieties that often come up on courses like this. Because differentiation is a big deal, so let’s bite off manageable chunks and develop at a realistic rate is what I think it is. So, we’re giving this title flexibility. So, want flexibility for the children, but also flexibility for ourselves as well.
But, thank you very much, Begoña, for your comment. I’m handing back over to Jane for Ross’s comment. Over to you, Jane.
JANE WINTER: Thank you. Got a couple of comments from Ross. And the first one, he’s worried about student self-esteem, and whether those that are given less challenging tasks, it’s going to affect their self-esteem and how they feel about their confidence. I would actually say the reverse is true. If you respect students, let them choose their level of challenge, give them the information they need to make the right choice. No, it does not affect their self-esteem. They’ve got more self-esteem than being given a task that’s too difficult, which they can’t do.
It does affect you. If you’re struggling, you feel horrible. It’s about creating that classroom culture where what you’re looking at isn’t correct answers, but level of challenge. Even with my four-year-olds, they used to choose their own maths challenges or maths activities. And if they came to me and they’d got all the questions correct, I’d be, did you challenge yourself? And then somebody else who chose a really, really easy simple stuff but it was right for them, they’d be so proud because they got it right. They managed to work– it meant that the children that were struggling didn’t always have to work with an adult.
They could choose a task that was easy enough that they could do by themselves, and where they could learn. And that is a lovely feeling, isn’t it? Even as an adult, I belong to a running club. I’m one of the worst runners in our club. I cannot tell you how slow I am. And when we have interval training, they do say, well, we’re going to run. We’re going to do 600 metres, and we’ll do it eight times, and we’re going to do in this time. And some of you may choose to actually stop at the lamp post. Then they’d say, Jane, we mean you. You’re so slow, you’re not going to run as far as us.
Then they let me choose. And I must admit, once or twice I thought, no, I’m going to try really hard, and I’m going to get all the way to the pillar box. And then I do feel horrible because I just get further and further behind, and I do feel bad. If I stop at the right space for me where I’ve chosen, I can enjoy the session with everybody else, and feel that I’m achieving and learning, and I can measure my progress. I’ve got a special watch that shows how fast I’m going. And if I’m a second faster than I was last week, they’re really chuffed.
Even though there’s some people who are loads faster than me, and would think they were still asleep if they ran at my speed. Respect students, focus on the challenge, not on getting things right. And let them take responsibility. And Ross has got another question as well, or another comment that he made. And he was talking about grades. And he was thinking if you’re giving grades for papers, and some students have got easier work than others, would they end up getting higher grades? I’ve got 10 out of 10. Well, I only got 8 out of 10. But it was actually hard to paper. Remember, we’re focusing not on right answers, we’re focusing on challenge.
So the question isn’t, did you get your questions all right? Did you get your questions all wrong? Did you challenge yourself? Did you learn something? And again, it’s about classroom culture. There was actually some research about this. And they gave with different groups of students, some students they just gave a grade. A, B, C. And when they gave the work back, they found that students didn’t learn from their mistakes. They weren’t able to build on their successes because they were just consumed with the grade. They felt really proud if they’d got an A and didn’t think they needed to do anything else. If they got a D, they were really dispirited and really didn’t see why they should bother.
Another group of students they gave constructive feedback to. And they found that those students were able to learn from what they’d done, and build on their successes, and correct their mistakes in the long term. Great. A third set of students they gave grades and constructive feedback. And with those students they found it was just the same as if they’d given them just grades. The constructive feedback was sort of masked out by the way the ego is involved with the grades. And the students focused on the grades, didn’t focus on the feedback. And so they didn’t really learn from their work. So, do you have to give grades to students?
Let them just concentrate on what they’ve done and what they need to do to get better. And I don’t think that’ll be a problem for them at all. So, that’s it I think this week. I think I’m handing back over to you, Yeasmin, for some final comments.
YEASMIN MORTUZA: Indeed. So, just want to say a big thank you for all of your comments coming through, and for giving us permission. If we do ask you for permission, do look out for those. We’d love to share your comments so that others may learn from the thing that you’re thinking. So please, do look out for those. If you’ve got any questions that you’d like to pose to our lead educators, who are Christine Harrison, Dylan William, and Andrea Mapplebeck, do post those on the Q&A page by the end of this month, the end of January. So the experts will have a video recorded response by round about mid-April Jane and I will make–
JANE WINTER: Mid-February.
YEASMIN MORTUZA: Beg your pardon mid-February. Thank you, Jane. And our next video diary will be towards the end of week four. And all in all we’ll have three video diaries for you. So, keep your comments coming in, and we look forward to reading them online. Thank you.

Having worked through a number of steps in Week 2 of the course we would like to encourage you to take some time to:

  • Reflect on your learning so far
  • Celebrate any Eureka moments you may have had
  • Consider any implications for you in your classroom

Reflection grid

Take a look at your reflection grid for this week. Add to your reflection grid based upon your understanding of the course, discussions and classroom practice this week.

Make a note of any outstanding questions, as you can take these to the Q&A session.

  • Step 5.2 – post questions before 6 February 2020.

Having thought about these points we would like to encourage you to share your reflections in the discussion below.

Mentors video diary

Your mentors will reflect back on the first two week’s key themes and your comments. You can use this to catch up on the course discussions and see if you missed any of the highlights so far. The first video diary was recorded on 16 January. A transcript will be online soon.

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