What’s the problem – AfL or subject knowledge?
We often think we know the answer to this but it’s actually not laways easy to tell. Maybe a class teacher is asking closed questions, not because they don’t know how to use AfL, but because they are scared of the answers they might get or don’t know it themselves. Perhaps a class teacher gives a next step that is too hard because they’re not sure how much progress a chil can make, rather than because they don’t know what the next step is.
Help is at hand. Here is a three point plan to identify the problem AND start solving it.
1. Ask a teacher to record a variety of questions (3 maximum) they are going to ask in a lesson.
2. Ask the teacher to then give two answers themselves: a) the correct one and b)the one they expected to get
3. Record children’s responses and then the teacher’s response to that.
This will tell you about both their subject knowledge and understanding of AfL. If a teacher knows the answer (or gives you a five minute monologue on the various possible answers) but had expectations that are too high, low, or just innacurate then the problem is AfL.
e.g. Year Six Question: How does the decline in worm poulation affect a thrush?
Answer: It means there is less of one energy source and so the thrush might have to diversify, travel further, move to a new habitat or its popoluation might start to decline
Expected child’s answer:It might die
This is a very basic answer and expectations might need to be higher.
If a teacher is tentative about the answer, has very specific expectations of what the child must say or is not able to deviate from the plan, the problem is subject knowledge.
e.g. Year Two Question: What is the next step in the instructions for making toast?
Answer: Next, slice the toast
Expected child’s answer: Slice the toast
Actual child’s answer: Cut the toast
Teacher response: Not quite, it is toast but it’s not cut. It needs to be slice. We have to use a time connective aswell.
OR, it’s a bit of both but at leats now you know and can work on one thing at a time.