Teacher MOT: Making connections (full article)

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By Huw Thomasheadteacher and writer

Reassess the way you engage with your class

Group of adults

‘Only connect’, the rallying call of a character in EM Forster’s Howard’s End, serves as a good motto for teaching. Gone are the days when we saw our class as a room full of empty vessels into which we need to pour knowledge. Our understanding of the way children actively construct their own learning has highlighted the need for us to make connections to, and within, this process. In the second part of my ‘Teacher MOT’ series, I will explore the benefits of reevaluating the way teachers engage and connect with their class.

Clarify to motivate

From the outset of a lesson, we need to be explicit about what we are going to do and how we will know we have got it. These are sometimes called ‘objectives’ and ‘success criteria’ or WALT (What Are we Learning Today) and WILF (What I’m Looking For) – although I do like to use the word ‘goal’ a lot. What’s vital is that lessons start with a clear depiction of what they will focus on, exposing children to the path ahead. This both secures children and also enables them to navigate their own learning. Try to keep objectives short and succinct, with a particular focus on enabling children to check their own learning as the lesson progresses.

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