Sorting The Essentials
What are the essentials?
That’s a pretty good question! And, if we can answer it then we must make sure we are spending time focusing on them.
When I talk about The Essentials I am referring to a list.
They include 5 to 10 things that we really want learners to experience in our lessons.
They should experience some of The Essentials each lesson.
They should be experiencing all of The Essentials at some point during each half term.
Developing The Essentials
As a department we spent time (about 2/3 weeks) at the start of term discussing and developing them.
They had to fit on one side of A4.
We wanted something that would bring clarity and a bit of focus during the craziness of day to day teaching in a busy school.
They should in some way help communicate our vision and values.
They should help develop culture.
They should bring a degree of clarity.
Have a look at the last set of essentials my department were using.
Remember, The Essentials are what we wanted the learners in our classroom to experience on a regular basis.
I am sure you will want to change it, tweak it or completely bin it and start it again.
I have been a fan of Tom Sherrington’s work (AKA @teacheread) for a long time now. I am planning on writing about his blog in more detail soon.
I came across his 10 silver arrows a few years back.
I updated The Essentials so that they incorporated some of his arrows.
My departments Essentials tended to change slightly each year.
Ideally they will be sharpened up without major changes.
You want them to be seen regularly and consistently.
Eventually becoming part of the departments DNA.
The Essentials were…
Displayed in every classroom.
Discussed in some way during each department meeting.
The final page of every set of minutes.
The Essentials proved to be an excellent reference point when writing schemes of work, improvement plans, self-evaluation and learner questionnaires.
They have also proved useful when having discussions regarding lesson observations, learning walks and work scrutiny.
They are a useful personal checklist.
Am I spending our time wisely? Am I delivering the lessons I want to deliver?
During a busy week use them.
Pause. Reflect. Respond.
What are your essentials?
Below is a link to a word doc.Download it. Amend it. Re write it. Feedback is very much appreciated!