Student Leadership, Student voice

Student Perspectives: The Value of Being a Teaching and Learning Ambassador

Aliza Babar – Teaching and Learning Ambassador and Sarah Bonnell School Student

Working as a Teaching and Learning ambassador at Sarah Bonnell School has truly been an enriching experience. Being able to represent students and explore our experience of learning has been a fantastic opportunity to develop our understanding of what makes an effective lesson and how to incorporate the feedback we receive into all lessons.

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As a Teaching and Learning Ambassador, our goal is to ensure all students are working to the best of their abilities and are working effectively when in the classroom. We achieve this through our learning walks, where Teaching and learning Ambassadors are able to observe learning for a brief period of time and have the opportunity to communicate and engage with the students, in order to investigate what environment and what resources they work with best. Importantly, these learning walks are highly confidential between the ambassadors and the teacher teaching the lesson. The entirety of the process is revolved around the students only and not the teacher teaching the lesson.

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Every academic year, the newly selected Teaching and Learning Ambassadors undergo a series of training sessions to ensure they are confident with the process. The series of training sessions that I had participated in were held at Rokeby School, where students from Rokeby School, Lister Community School and Sarah Bonnell School had the exciting opportunity to collaborate and explore some of the key components to effective learning. The sessions were mainly student led, which allowed there to be a much more collaborative atmosphere. Throughout the sessions, we created a ‘learning record form’ which we use to collate our feedback during our learning walks. The experience was definitely helpful as a lot of the knowledge that I carry with me now is a result of those weekly training sessions.

Overall, being a Teaching and Learning Ambassador has helped develop my confidence and how I feel during lessons, and has given me an insight into the development of teaching and learning across the school. It has been a really positive experience for me.

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Collaboration, Diversity, Multimodal Learning, Student Leadership

Multimodal Learning: Inclusion, Collaboration and Identity

abstract blackboard bulb chalk
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Nick Bentley – Lead Practitioner for Inclusion and Drama

As is the case, I’m sure, with many colleagues, I often like to take a step back and think about how far I’m meeting my own conception of the teacher I want to be. My initial step was to buy a huge stack of certificates and stickers to celebrate my students’ learning, and my second step was to buy and wear a rather frivolous neck-tie (we could consider the merits of authentic role-modelling on another occasion). A rather more meaningful moment of self-reflection came as I thought about my lessons. Are they meaningful and joyful? Are they challenging and collaborative? Do they facilitate student independence and celebrate young people’s diverse identities? In thinking through these questions, I returned to the notion of multimodal learning.

    Multimodal approaches to learning recognise the reality of the physical and social spaces which classrooms are, broadening the terms of what learning is and how it happens. The kind of tools I have found to be helpful have included images, video-clips, sounds and music. Concrete objects and props can be combined with art, text and discussions, to not only open up mediums of learning, but also to diversify the ways young people can demonstrate their understanding. Drama, collaboration and teacher-in-role can engage students’ imaginative and lived experiences in relation to the world, across the curriculum. Our school has recently embraced Google Drive and Google Classroom, with exciting potential for the impact of technology on learning.

    I would suggest that multimodality in the classroom can promote inclusivity as it removes barriers to learning by offering various pathways to engage with the lesson; it can equally promote challenge by encouraging creative thinking amongst learners. Through its celebration of the social resources of the classroom, it promotes collaboration and communication skills. By championing young people’s different interpretations – when used meaningfully, multimodal approaches should include diverse representations of ethnicity, sexuality, religion and gender and identity – it can celebrate young people’s diverse identities; by sharing images of different groups of people, exploring multiple identities through drama and discussion, and representing diverse individuals through art. Importantly, it can bring a sense of energy, engagement and excitement ot the classroom. I certainly wouldn’t say I have become my perfect self-identity as a practitioner, but by employing multimodal approaches, I have taken a step closer to becoming the kind of teacher I have always hoped to be.

Student Leadership

How Flipped Learning can change your classroom

Rabiah Mahmood

Over the past few years, the idea of ‘talk-less’ teaching has garnered much attention and we are encouraged to adopt it as standard classroom practice for many reasons; it reduces teacher talk, emphasises to students the importance of them working as hard (if not harder) than the teacher to facilitate their progress, increases student engagement and allows us to spend more time circulating the classroom and assessing the strengths and needs of our students.

To get to this point, lessons need to be planned in a way that allows students the opportunity to seek information for themselves, to use their prior knowledge to advance with the information they are provided with in lessons. This is where flipped learning comes in; if the information students need to know can be given to them before the lesson, this will allow us to spend more time with them in lesson on the application of theory, practical work and exam practice, as opposed to using that time to introduce key concepts to them. Using this approach has allowed me to spend the majority of my contact time with students doing exactly that – being in contact with them, communicating with them personally and individually, clarifying any confusions and misconceptions, explaining ideas on a 1-1 basis to personalise each student’s learning experience and build relationships to promote a positive learning environment.

So, how can you share with students the information they need to know outside of the lesson?

If the resources students use in lessons are accessible to them outside of school, for example, a textbook they can take home, buy themselves, or better still, access for free online, they can be encouraged to pre-read the upcoming lesson and make notes to prepare for the lesson content. To provide some structure, the task can be scaffolded by constructing comprehension style questions to ensure students are able to access the fundamental ideas within the information they are pre-reading. These do not need to be extensive; a few key questions can be enough. These can be uploaded on to Edmodo in advance of the lesson for students to complete in their own time, or shared with them however you would prefer in advance of the upcoming lessons.

Another way that students can be prepared for a new unit of work is by asking them to define key terms they will be expected to use and apply; again, a simple table with the key terminology can be constructed to ensure students are provided with some structure and this will become a glossary within their notes, which they can reference any time they need. They can also be asked to enhance the task creatively by drawing images to help them understand what the key terminology means or by using it in a sentence. To stretch students, they can be asked to apply what they understand by answering textbook questions, and to differentiate, a different version of the information can be provided to support students with the task, such as a website aimed at a lower key-stage or watching a video instead.

Using the flipped learning approach will allow more in-class lesson time to be dedicated towards ensuring students have a richer learning experience, will involve our students more directly in the process of teaching, learning and assessment, and it will, hopefully, change your experience as a classroom practitioner for the better, as it has mine.