Making a success out of success criterion!

I recently blogged about my worry that success criteria were becoming just another ‘tool of transmission’ -allowing children to be passive recipients of teaching rather than active agents in their own learning. Sadly our socio-cultural constructions of teaching and learning mean that the transmission model  is the default to which both pupils and teachers will revert to if they are not reflective about the learning process (or feel over loaded). This is why teachers need to be continually reflective about their practice and certain that the more time given to children understanding their learning will always result in better results  – even better coverage of the curriculum too!

To this end, I unpicked what was going on with the success criteria in my class and bounced back after the Easter break ready to shake up a few things. I tried to marry the need to engage pupils with learning goals and steps to success with the need for energy and agency.  Here I shared the learning question, but spent a few minutes discussing what success would be like, then I asked the children to arrive at three very short phrases, or even three words, to remind them of the steps to success. I specifically asked them not to write full sentences, but after discussion to think of these words or phrases that would remind them of how to be successful or what success looked like.

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The results were immediately plain to see for all. The children had to engage and be active here, they  had to think about their own learning journey. Importantly, did it work?  Yes it did!  For me the progress was evident straight away and we only spent two lessons on rounding and then moved on because everyone was on track. For some children, I made sure me or my TA discussed it and used their words to scribe in three points – but even my level 1 writer and mathematician wanted to write ‘numberline’  and ‘halfway’ himself and this clearly made him feel much more in control of his learning and he was rounding two digit numbers independently in no time at all.

I’m going to keep going with this and see how it works across the other subjects – children need training in these things don’t they. Some of them moaned a bit at first (see they like being fed everything if you’re not careful) but then  they felt the results too. By the third day they were having a go quite happily.  They definitely needed to discuss the  success points briefly as a class first and share some ideas about what three things to put, but following this there were high levels of engagement and importantly ownership.

Anyway, would love to hear thoughts on this.. or better ideas that are out there.

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