Reflective teaching is a beautiful thing. It allows us to unpick many aspects of our performance in order to see how we can improve going forward. We want to be the best practitioners we can be right? I find being my own biggest critic is one very helpful way of deciding how and where to move forward with my teaching.
I recently finished reading the ‘Six Thinking Hats’ by Edward de Bono (Pick it up from Amazon HERE) and this has inspired me to reflect on my own teaching using them. Before, I used to look back over lessons and had a whirr of good and bad points swirling around my head with a variety of reasoning behind each one. It was often cloudy and confused. I struggled to reflect clearly. The whole principle behind this book is to use the hats to ‘run better meetings and make decisions faster’. I have found that using them in evaluating my TEACHING has helped me immensely. I hope you find this Podcast and Blog useful and can see/use these ideas for YOURSELF!
Below are the explanations behind each hat: Alternatively, for a brilliant overview of the book and meaning behind the hats, check out THIS PODCAST by Omar Zenhom (E.p 33). It certainly inspired me!
The principle here is that as I reflect on a lesson, I ‘wear’ each hat in turn (the order of my choosing) and look at my session from ‘that point of view’ for a few minutes. Below is a breakdown of how I have used the hats to reflect on one particular football lesson I delivered to a KS2 class inside a small village hall earlier this week. The majority of what I have written below is often a conversation in my own head or jotted down in mind map format in my notebook.
I often start with the RED HAT and look at my feelings towards the session.
RED HAT – My first overriding thought about this lesson is happiness. I am happy because the children all left the session with smiles on their faces. This immediately tells me that they had FUN and ENJOYED what we were learning (this is often a main priority of mine). I was pleased at the attitude and behaviour of the group as a whole and this helped with the flow of the lesson. I do have a slight inkling of frustration about the structure of the lesson as the space was too small for the large class size, thus forcing me to have parts with half playing and half sat peer assessing.
BLACK HAT – I don’t want to over use this hat, but it helps me to pick out any negatives from the session. I was disappointed that some children had to have spells on the side of the hall due to space restrictions. One boy in particular was struggling with some of the basic dribbling skills and I perhaps didn’t differentiate his task well enough. This could have prevented him from making as much progress as he otherwise could have. I will need to address this next week.
YELLOW HAT – There were many positives to take away from this session. Not least the thanks and smiles from the children as they left at the end of the session. The children were given a great opportunity to assess each other. They used detailed sentences to provide in depth feedback on turns and areas for improvement. This helped deepen their understanding of the activity and allowed me to see clear progression. The children enjoyed the challenge of improving on areas their partners suggested ‘trying to win recognition’ for their efforts. In this respect, the smaller space had both positives and negatives. I used demonstrations well in the lesson and ensured I stayed consistent with my praise to motivate the children. I had high expectations of the children and this seemed to be evident in their enthusiasm and desire to do well.
BLUE HAT – This was my second lesson with this particular KS2 class. The block of work is going very well so far and the school are pleased with my delivery. They have had lots of CPD with me before and are receptive and welcoming. So far I have worked on dribbling skills and ball control with some success. I need to progress onto passing activities with this class but will make a point to revisit fundamental dribbling each session and use this time to intervene with anybody I feel is getting ‘left behind’.
WHITE HAT – I have had several conversations in person with the class teacher and liaised via email. She is very happy with the lessons so far and commented on how useful it is to see a variety of warm ups and small competitive challenges to enthuse the children. I know that if weather remains poor in the coming weeks I will be remaining in the indoor space so I need to have contingency plans for indoor lessons.
GREEN HAT – Green is for growth. How can I improve this session for next week? Firstly, I will be better prepared to cater for the child who struggled more than the rest. I will give him a smaller football and modified versions of the individual activities I set. In paired or group work, I will position him with some of the older and more mature members of the class to provide him with guidance and support. I need to progress on to basic passing and movement type activities. If I need to be inside again, thus revisiting a peer/self assessment lesson format, I will make use of my iPad (Coaches eye) and GoPro camera to allow children to analyse from different perspectives.
So there you have it. A small breakdown of how I evaluated my lesson on Monday afternoon. Depending on how the lesson unfolded, this may be more or less detailed. I occasionally use the hats to reflect on the behaviour of a child if it has been particularly bad. It is all too easy to let the ‘red hat’ take over when you are frustrated with the behaviour of a child. I find it very useful to look at the situation from other perspectives and find it helps me deal with a particular child when I teach them again.
So now it’s over to YOU! Have a try at using the six thinking hats yourself. It takes practice, but you will be seeing situations more clearly than ever before you know it. Let me know how it goes, and I’ll catch you next time ‘Under the Umbrella’.