When we were told that we were to be getting our own classrooms this year, I was so excited to get stuck into creating some displays and making my classroom the best environment for my students. I was most excited to have classroom routines that I could keep up and not gradually forget about (mostly due to being consistently late to my next lesson after the casual sprint from the JLV to the SLV). So, like the keen bean that I am, I came in for a few days in the summer holidays to set some things up. I started my first display board, which I know you will have all read about in the Maths department Mojo Moments published earlier this year. I was focussed on changing the mind set of students so that I could finally hear the back of flippant comments like “eh, how can she just do everything and I can’t?” and “I give up. Too hard” and create a more positive learning environment for everybody involved. I thought this may be something that had an effect at the start of the year and would fade out, but the students have really surprised me. I still have students hear a negative comment from one of their peers and they turn around and patronisingly quote a phrase from the wall which they should use instead. I realise that the students are mostly saying this in jest, but it has had a really positive impact on students’ mind set. I rarely hear any of the phrases which I was so sick of hearing last year anymore and students always have somewhere to get an upgrade question to extend or challenge their thinking. Time well spent.
Change your mindset display
I also, I suppose quite controversially, spent some time in September creating little laminated CLV shields with the names of each student from my Y11 class lovingly typed out on top and laminated for good measure to start my Y11 shrine (my students actually still call this wall their shrine…). I popped the shields up in the different columns indicating where their most recent assessment placed them in relation to their target grade. I’ll admit, it wasn’t a pretty sight at first, but what has surprised me most is the motivation that has come from having a paper shield with their name on stuck on the wall underneath a sign which says ‘more than two grades from target’. It has had a really positive effect on my higher attaining students, but my PP students responded really well to this too. I have students who attend Maths club every week religiously because they are “going to move that bloody shield eventually”. After every assessment, I allow 5 minutes of carnage to erupt in my classroom as the students run to the back wall to proudly move their shields – Kira Shieber even videoed the occasion and sent it to other Y11 students! The students are proud of their shield now (have a look at how far the classes have come in the photos!) From a teacher’s point of view, this also allows me to be constantly aware of how students are performing and a quick glance to the back wall reminds me who my key focus students are.
This all sounds very well and good, but then we had the CPD training delivered by Trish and Elaine. I thought I was quite good at updating the displays so that they were constantly relevant to the topics and lessons that I was teaching and the students that I was aiming to impact, but, where is the students’ input here? Did I have their work on my walls? No, it was all my bright ideas. I went away that evening and thought about how I could incorporate their work into my displays without having a display that I needed to constantly update (e.g. work of the week). My idea, was to create a wall of revision ideas. I would start off the wall, with the generic revision materials that we as Maths teachers find ourselves constantly bleating on about in the week leading up to assessments, but then I would ask students for their ideas too. The result is in the picture below! I stuck up my pieces but then students would tell me how they made use of the revision cards, or the revision tab on Frog so I added in some top tips. A few students have contributed their own revision materials which I have scanned or photographed and put on the wall too with a little caption from the student themselves. I have included a pouch of blank revision timetables for students to take too, to help them organise their revision across all subjects, which have gone down a storm.
How do you measure the impact this has? My Y11 students have performed better than they ever have in the latest assessment. I attributed this to us having finished the course and revision season kicking in, but students have commented on how they used ‘Emily’s strategy’ with the revision cards, or ‘Kira’s notes pages’ which they find really helpful.
So there you have it, a display with no fuss, which is easy to install and update, with a positive impact on student’s work and achievements.
– Lyndsay Jubb