Rydal Penrhos Daily Notes – May 11
Day 36 – 17 pupils, 8 staff
Today I spent some time in each online (and offline!) classroom at school helping pupils with their learning but also observing how they are learning.
The general rule was; the older the pupil the more time they spent working on their own. In fact, the youngest pupils (aged 4 and 5) didn’t want to work on their own at all and much preferred to discuss their tasks and work out answers together, giving excited shrieks as they discovered the answer and rushed (quite literally) to the teacher for affirmation.
A year older and the pupils still chose, at all times, to work together but this time they were less needy of the teacher and more resilient in working through problems together.
They didn’t ask for help until they had worked through all possibilities with their unifix cubes and weighing scales! Onto 8 and 9-year-olds and somehow the system has leapt to a default of try it on your own first and then check with a friend to see if they have the same. There was still an element of cooperation but quite a bit more sitting looking stumped before seeking assistance.
The exuberance of trying, and not worrying if it was wrong, has gone; now there is self-doubt creeping in…perhaps it matters if my answer is wrong!
Forward to 12 and 13-year-olds and we find total individual learning, quiet and on-task but not seeking help from each other very often, generally not asking the teacher for help and quite a few delaying tactics creeping in such as doodling, going to the toilet and good-old-fashioned gazing out of the window!
When work is finished it is more of a sigh than a celebration. Concern that what has been done might not be correct, might not be good enough. Teachers are pro-actively asking pupils if they need help, checking their understanding, but pupils are less likely to instigate these exchanges.
We are a forward-thinking school praised for our pupil voice opportunities, pupil leadership and pupil confidence and yet still our pupils succumb to self-doubt and waver in their self-belief. I am sure this is all part of the much wider picture of ‘growing up’ but as educators (and parents) we are always thinking of new ways to get back to the early forms of learning…the ‘give it go’ and ‘we can do this together’ approach.
Why does our education system lead towards individual exams when we actually need our workplaces to be full of people who can work well as a problem-solving team?
Well that was all a bit heavy for a Monday afternoon! I think tomorrow I’ll go back to joining in with the unifix and avoid too much observation of learning! Food for thought though.
Mrs L Davies
Head of Prep