What does good teaching and learning look like at St. George’s Cathedral Catholic Primary School?
Good teaching and learning is what we aim for in every corner of every classroom every day here at St. George’s Cathedral Primary School!
There are so many strands of teaching and learning all woven together in an intricate web but at St. George’s we believe that at the heart of all good teaching and learning is relationships.
Within a school there are lots of different kinds of relationships and they all matter:
Relationships between colleagues engaged in professional collaboration and a network of support for each other.
Relationships between teachers and support staff.
Relationships between staff and the parents and the wider community.
One of the most important relationships is the one between teachers and pupils…
These relationships take time and effort to create. It is about staff knowing each child as both a learner and as a person.
It’s about eating lunch together, dancing together at the disco, having conversations in the playground and enjoying school traditions together such as the Friday Morning Sports Workout or the Christmas Fair.
It’s about teachers knowing what children find hard and what’s too easy; what lesson types make them come alive, knowing how much encouragement and support they need to get started without forming a learnt dependency, and knowing which friends they should sit near so they will be motivated to achieve their best. We know that effective behaviour management is all about relationships too.
By knowing our children back to front and inside out teachers can plan the right lessons through careful assessment for learning – both during and after a lesson. We can challenge children with questions to move their learning on. We can use targeted questions rather than hands up – for example, asking one child to “give us a multiple of 10” but another for “a multiple of 7 that is also a perfect number”…. We must always remember that teachers are only as good as the questions they ask! We need to know the child to know the next question so that children are never stopped in their tracks – rather that learning here is a constant journey, moved forward by effective questioning.
Know the child – know the task!
We can only differentiate for our children when we know them inside out. We differentiate by giving the whole class rich activities and ‘low threshold high ceiling’ tasks that everyone can access yet the possibilities for where the lesson goes are endless – depending on individual ability and the questions asked OF them and BY them. We look for depth of understanding: the new curriculum is all about depth before breadth!
We know children’s personal bests and we encourage them to aim for this, not compare themselves with others. We have a strong culture of PBs – achievements at all levels are celebrated by the whole class.
Effective feedback and reflection by all
Good relationships allow for an honest and open dialogue between teachers and pupils so that meaningful, effective and personal feedback (both written and verbal) can be exchanged.
Teachers can use pen-in-hand marking (where they write and comment on children’s books in the lesson there with the child rather than looking at a book at the end of the lesson).
We love our lessons!
For great teaching and learning to take place lessons need to be fun, active and exciting – rooted in real life experience and working towards meaningful outcomes. Children can’t learn letter writing without sending their letters off and hopefully getting a reply! We cannot study Shakespeare in London and not visit the Globe, and we can’t learn life cycles of plants without planting seeds in pots at in our classroom.
Classrooms should be filled with talk, laughter and engaged children who take pride in their work and are open to new challenges. Good teaching and learning creates a collective sense of wonder and curiosity about the world in classrooms between teachers and pupils.
Teachers need to have strong subject knowledge, and if we don’t know about something we need to be keen and willing to learn about it. We need to share a sense of curiosity with the children about the world around us. We love asking questions and finding out the answers.
A culture of error – good mistakes!
Good teaching and learning will only take place in a classroom where a culture of error has been created: an environment in which mistakes are celebrated and acknowledged as the way we learn. The most powerful weapon in our teaching armoury is the phrase ‘good mistake’.
Children make good mistakes when we can see what they did – we can understand their error. For example “7 x 2 = 9”. Often good mistakes are the common misconceptions. Teachers can use these or ‘borrow’ this celebrated good mistake to teach the children something and teach away from the good mistake. They can use mini plenaries to bring the class together and show the good mistake. They can make their own and see if children can spot what they have done. This is far more powerful than just telling children the misconceptions. Outstanding teachers plan for the good mistakes and seize upon the teachable moments that arise from them. Good teaching and learning can only take place in a supportive classroom where children are encouraged to takes risks, have a go and fail.