As far as my work as a teacher and teacher trainer is concerned, I believe in challenging students and having high expectations of everyone in the classroom. This is coupled with appropriate support and guidance, which is then differentiated to meet pupils’ and students’ needs. To support my learners I provide relevant and specific praise and feedback, engaging and interesting tasks and activities, sound guidelines and instructions, solid question and answer sessions and clear, practical examples or modelling.
However, challenging students is not an easy task. Every part of the lesson must be prepared and planned to offer the opportunities for learners to engage but also to benefit from scaffolding.
The photo demonstrates an example of a lesson challenging students with the help of a video and a question and answer session. The resources consisting of the lesson plan, worksheets and transcript of the question and answer session can be downloaded from here.
This lesson was delivered as a demonstration of an effective question and answer session on the topic of pluralism, which is rather difficult to teach in the voluntary religious education centres. In this case I showed how all pupils are expected to benefit from the same learning, rather than having minimal expectations of some. Differentiation lies in the support provided within the question and answer session and on the support sheets provided, but the expectation is that all students will understand and learn the difficult concept of pluralism.
My challenging students actually happened on a second level, as the class consisted of all adults training to teach in a religious education centre, and I did not expect them to play the role of their own pupils, so that the concept was certainly more debated than it would have been in a class full of teenagers. However, the challenge for the adults was in the analysis of my demonstration, where I expected them to reflect on what I did and why. Student feedback highlights the success of this lesson.