Daily Archives: August 18, 2010

Getting the balance right

In a meeting with our teaching and learning group last year, we discussed how much time in lessons is spent actively involved in independent learning as opposed to teacher directed.

We decided that at some stages (beginnings of topics etc) and in some lessons, a strong teaching input was needed. At most other times however, it was felt students benefited from being more actively involved in their learning.

To gauge how much time in lessons was generally teacher led/student passive and how much time students were active we decided to chart a lesson. Using a simple time chart (a sheet of paper with a horizontal time line through the middle. Above the line, teacher led, below the line, student active) the children tracked the lesson with a pencil going above and below the horizontal timeline minute by minute as appropriate.

The results showed that much more time than necessary was being spent with the teacher talking, not enough time was being given over to the active learning.

What did all of this tell us? Well firstly it surprised the teacher how much they spoke. It made it clear to them that student engagement didn’t rely on them in a didactic role and that we often overestimate how much we need to say before real, authentic learning can begin.

This experiment would work equally well if a teacher were to film their own lesson and play it back in private using a similar time chart. What it does is help teachers recognise whether or not they have got the balance right between teacher led and student centered learning. It can be a very useful took in shaping classroom practice.