Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Criteria for a quality Classroom.

This wall display, seen in a year one room, indicates to visitors that the teacher values student's questions, their 'prior ideas' and doing art work to a high standard - simple stuff but effective.

The following was a 'list' I prepared a few years ago to define quality teaching. I have seen a number of schools that include it their 'best practice' books so I thought it was worth sharing.

Looking at it it seems to sum up the ideas that I feel are important and I am sure many teachers will agree with all, or most, of the points. I have added a few recent comments.

A quality classroom, or school, is one:

1 Where students are expected to set and achieve their own goals and who are able to show continual quality improvement in all their work.

2 Where teachers negotiate with their students what is expected and 'illustrate' those expectations by 'scaffolding' , modelling, demonstrating and 'thinking aloud'. I would add today that this must not be at the expense of individual student creativity which makes teaching an artistic endeavour.

3 Where students understand that quality is more important than quantity and where the need to do do their 'personal best' has been internalised.

4 Where students study topics in depth
to ensure understanding rather than trying to cover too many things superficially. Studies are best focused on achieving fewer things done well.

5 Where both teachers and students are aware of the strategies involved in any activity and students can express, not only what they are are doing, but why and how. Today this would be called meta cognition.

6 Where teachers negotiate criteria with students so they can self assess their own quality improvement
and set new goals as necessary. I would add, today, that it is important to ensure the criteria are open enough to allow student individuality and creativity.

7 Where classrooms are well organised so as to allow both intensive teacher interaction and independent student activity
. Paradoxically creativity thrives best in emotionally safe and predictable rooms where risk taking is encouraged.

8 Where room environments not only illustrate quality student thinking and creativity across the curriculum but also show the processes involved
. The classroom walls express the 'message system' of the class

9 Where class/school values are clear and the norms for communal behaviour owned by all. The concept of making the 'best choice' in any situation and then to consider possible future actions 'next time' is an important understanding.

10 Where the school and teachers ( and the students themselves) selectively monitor student progress using agreed indicators. Care must be taken to ensure that data collection does not eat up the time and energy necessary for creative teaching.

11 Where the expectation is for all staff members to review themselves against agreed school expectations to ensure teacher professional development is in line with the schools vision and goals.Once again individual teacher creativity must always be valued as much as is possible.

12 Where the expectations and values of the school are not only shared by teachers and students but equally importantly by the parents and the wider community. Real strength would be realized if groups of schools were to agree to work together, to share expertise and ideas, but to still value the individual creativity of each school. Harmonious diversity.


For Action plans to achieve the above.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Old Friend

Once again you have succinctly stated what is so important in the learning process. If only schools would read what you wrote and then had the %#@@ to do this and to hell with all the summative assessment that seems to be how success is now judged.

Keep up the good work it makes me believe that perhaps this will come about over time.

Anonymous from up north

Bruce said...

Great to have you back old friend!

One day all will be well again - well that's the dream that drives me. A bit Don Quixote I guess - forever tipping at windmills.

I agree we need principals with ##0&#!!

Did you note the link to my publications on my blog?

Anonymous said...

A great list but how many schools really value students' questions and concerns and, in turn, really encourage students to use their own 'voice' in whatever expressive field they have a 'gift' in? A quick look around most primary rooms will show that most of the work that students complete is at the request of their teacher's concerns and planning. Little of it is really creative! Colourful but not creative! Your 'warnings' in italics reflect more the reality

Bruce said...

I think many teachers would be suprised to learn that their rooms were not that creative but I fear that it is the truth - too much, so called 'creativity', is predetermined by teachers to the point that the students 'voice' and 'identity' is too often overwhelmed.

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