As we pass the halfway mark in Term 4, we begin to turn our focus to the year ahead. While much of this focus tends to be devoted to planning the curriculum our students will access, it is a perfect time to focus on the pedagogies within our classes, and consider how we can leverage the ‘art’ of teaching to have the greatest impact on student progress.
There are countless pedagogical choices available to any teacher in any class on any given day, which is one of the things that makes pedagogical planning so complex. However, there are five pedagogical superpowers that Maths Pathway teachers can use to elevate their teaching from good to great, and ensure that every lesson is a high impact lesson for every student.
The benefits of explicitly teaching a concept to a small group of students go well beyond the differentiation of content. Smaller groups allow teachers to make use of the pedagogies that better support student participation and understanding, and provide more opportunities for students to engage in peer discussion and modelling. Teachers who engage this superpower think beyond what students will learn when planning their explicit teaching, giving equal consideration to how they will teach it.
Setting and communicating expectations for students is one thing - monitoring whether or not they are being met successfully is another thing entirely! It can be challenging to keep students on track when there are multiple learning modes happening at once, with different expectations for different students. Maths Pathway teachers have a superpower that gives them eyes at the back of their head - the ability to easily monitor and track exactly what students are doing with their time in class - and use this data to deploy the pedagogical strategies that will help ensure all students meet the expectations that have been set, in every class.
Student agency goes beyond simply providing students with choices in the classroom - it involves coaching students to recognise and seek out the opportunities they have to influence their own learning trajectories. Teachers making use of this superpower engage in discussions that support students to think about their own thinking, and learn about their own learning, in ways that progress them towards their own learning goals.
While ‘growth mindset’ is a term that might be familiar in most classrooms, many students still view success as being tied to academic attainment, or the completion of a set of tasks. Teachers exercising this superpower unleash the true potential of their students’ growth mindsets by celebrating the progress of each individual student in all aspects of their learning, including the behaviours and processes that contribute to success.
When students are not successful at mastering new learning, it might be natural to focus on more targeted content delivery as a solution. However, it is important to also consider the context of this learning - that is, the social, emotional, behavioural, procedural and cognitive influences that can determine whether a student experiences success in any given learning opportunity. Teachers utilising this superpower recognise that access to success goes beyond the content of the maths itself, and ensure that they are supporting their students to develop effective behaviours, strategies and mindsets alongside their content knowledge.
So, as the year begins to wind down, take an opportunity to reflect on your own use of these superpowers, and consider how they might be harnessed by your team to ensure that every student gets the maximum impact out of every learning opportunity. You have much more than curriculum at your disposal!