Welcome (Barry Green, Director of AIMS South Africa)
Barry Green welcomed all the teachers to AIMS and gave some background about the institute.
Marie began by explaining that the main purpose of the meeting was for teachers to get know one another and begin to form a ‘cluster’. She said that she and Ingrid had gained a lot of insight into the overall make up of the cluster and that she wanted the teachers to begin to feel part of the whole.
She then showed a slide for each school with pictures of the teachers involved in the project.
What we’ve done
Marie briefly explained that this term we observed the teachers teaching an ordinary lesson and a research lesson. We wrote a report about each lesson we observed and the teachers received a copy of all these reports.
A short video montage from the lesson observations was shown and the teachers discussed it in pairs before sharing comments with the whole group. Teachers identified strategies they had seen other teachers use which they would like to use in their lessons. Some teachers shared that they had noticed that even though the videos showed classrooms across a very wide range of contexts, ‘teaching is still teaching’.
Ingrid explained that two MAP lessons which align with the pace setter for the second term had been identified. She also explained that each teacher would be asked to teach at least one of these lessons and that if neither of them was applicable then another lesson could be found or created. The teachers were given a copy of the lesson plans and the card sets and spent a few minutes looking at the lessons.
Ingrid and Marie are attending a project meeting in the third and fourth weeks of the second term and so most lesson observations will only take place from the fifth week of term. Some observations have been set up in the first two weeks, however.
Marie mentioned that it might be possible to have a cluster meeting during the exams at the end of the second term. This might allow for a longer meeting.
Issues arising this term
Adapting and adopting
Marie explained it is well recognised that it is difficult to teach a lesson designed by someone else. She said that many teachers had also commented on this challenge. She explained that in most cases teachers adapt lessons but that this has its own challenges. She talked showed some examples of how teachers in the project had adapted the MAP lessons.
The teachers then discussed what to be aware of when preparing to teach a lesson designed by someone else. Many teachers agreed that there were moments in the lesson when they felt they didn’t know what to do next. They agreed that it was important to prepare thoroughly and go through the lesson plan in detail.
Some teachers suggested that it would be helpful to meet with other teachers to discuss the lesson before teaching it. Marie said that it might be possible to arrange such a meeting, especially for teachers who had no other teachers at their school involved in the project.
Starting from scratch
Ingrid explained that Jonathan had finished teaching exponents by the time the research lesson was scheduled. The next topic he was teaching was patterns. Ingrid and Marie had identified a lesson on algebra which they then adapted, with Jonathan’s input. Jonathan then shared his experience of being part of the process of redesigning a lesson, explaining what he had done, how the students had responded and how he had felt.
Recording what’s happened
Marie explained that some teachers had expressed a desire to have a record of what happened during the research lessons to refer back to in future lessons. She shared some examples of how different teachers had done this and suggested that teachers should think about what to do next term.
Marie explained that although the research design did not require data on students’ views about the FaSMEd lessons at this stage, both the research team and the teachers had been interested in understanding more about what students thought. This term two ways of collecting information about learners’ views had been piloted – interviews and short questionnaires. She showed an analysis of the data from one class’ response to the questionnaire and examples of quotes generated from an interview.
Teachers agreed that they would be interested in their students’ responses and there was a general consensus that it would be better to use the questionnaire. It was also suggested that a question regarding what students still didn’t understand might be added to the questionnaire.