Open Classrooms So Far- Hannah Tyreman

door So today was one of those days. A Monday. A missed train. A mediocre lesson (I think I stressed them out a bit with the 6 book challenge…and then they kept getting confused by my instructions). I even forgot all about my green door hanger! I mean, I’m part of organising the thing! It took a lot for me to step away from the marking this afternoon and venture out for a while on a green door hunt but as per usual, like most CPD I THINK I don’t have time for, it was seriously worthwhile! So far, I’ve seen Noel Wood’s lesson where there was a great example of planning and of differentiation. He had got the students setting targets and placing them on a Padlet target wall, before he’d clearly placed the learners in groups or pairs, completing different tasks to maximise their learning and challenge them accordingly. They each had a piece of metal they were working with but there was incredible collaboration going on between them. I questioned the learners and they were ALL happy to tell me about the maths elements of their work, how the machines worked and how it fit into what they were making. I was amazed by their confidence, their autonomy and Noels’ apparent hands-off approach to what was a seriously smooth-running session. It kind of made me want to be an engineer! photo (48)

I then wandered through many corridors, realising fast that learners take a lot of breaks in this College! I had seemingly chosen a bad time of mid-afternoon!
I then found Dave Johnson in lesson, which is always a pleasure and I’m hoping to return on Friday when he works with LLD/D learners. I spoke to one of his learners who was given the chance to show-off the work he’d completed. He was visibly proud and could talk about all the steps to achieve the wonderfully painted door. He had been for an apprenticeship interview the previous day and I was incredibly impressed by how articulate he was about both his learning and his future. I am always astounded by how calm Dave’s workshop is. It’s so peaceful and such a lovely environment to learn in. It really is remarkable that a practical workshop can run so calmly.
I ended up in Sue Edwards’s classroom, a place I have wanted to see for some time. She was talking to the learners about their experiences of stress and techniques that might help them to overcome it. They were also discussing the current decision making that was taking place over their possible futures. She asked the class what they thought would happen if they didn’t make that decision themselves. One learner was very clear what the answer was- ‘Someone else will make it for you!’ Sue also made fantastic use of a visit from a member staff there to drop something off. He was a previous STEPS student at the College so he’d been able to share his learning journey and career pathway to date. She couldn’t have planned it better! My one takeaway for everyone from her session was that she stated that you can’t be stressed if you’re laughing at a dancing purple hippo.
I’d be inclined to agree with her!
I think I might take some of my learners on my travels next time so that they can reflect too. I saw a colleague who had taken some of her learners out and about and the insights they had made into sessions was incredible! I’m hoping she’ll blog them but a couple of statements stuck with me in particular-
‘Getting the students to think about the answers they have gave, to be more confident about their answers they have given.’
‘Activity on the board, ready for them to come in so they are not sat there doing nothing’
Perhaps we should be handing over the reigns to our learners to conduct lesson observations more often?
Anyway, I hope many of you get the opportunity to take 15 minutes out to take a look at what your colleagues might offer to your day and to your teaching practice. Why not take a colleague with you? You can pace the corridors letting off steam about your day and then reflect about your learning together after a visit to a green door classroom. This 15 minutes can seem like a lot in an already packed workload but the experience will hopefully be a valuable one for you.
And if you work in a school or College where Open Classrooms doesn’t currently exist, then here are some reasons why you might start it.
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