Observation discussion - effective explanations
Teaching techniques to focus feedback on
To have planned and practised effective explanations.
In the previous term, teachers learnt about effective explanations and how to prevent working memory overload by:
- breaking down complex ideas or tasks into smaller steps.
- combining a verbal explanation with a relevant graphical representation
- using worked or partially completed examples
Observe your teacher delivering an explanation. You can focus on one specific area outlined above or multiple areas depending on the needs of your teacher. For example, if your teacher is really struggling with breaking down complex ideas or tasks into smaller steps’, then this should be your sole focus. However, if they are confident with doing that but could improve just slightly, you may want to focus on this area and one other.
Praise, probe and set precise actions
The following practise should be focused around the outcomes of the probe and precise actions, so that it is specific to your teacher’s developmental needs. However, below are some practise ideas based on the online study materials to support you if needed.
Plan and practice ideas
Work with your teacher to support them in developing area(s) of effective explanations.
If focusing on breaking down complex ideas or tasks into smaller steps using ‘Name the Steps’, you should ask your teacher to consider the following questions:
- What knowledge am I assuming the pupils have?
- Why have I chosen the steps that I have? Would it be beneficial to break them down further?
- Even after breaking down the concept, am I introducing too much in one go and risking overloading my pupils? If so, what can I do?
If focusing on combining a verbal explanation with a relevant graphical representation, you should ask your teacher to consider the following points:
- Which part of their explanation would benefit from a verbal explanation and relevant graphical representation?
- Which image would be best to use and why?
If focusing on using worked or partially completed examples, you could ask your teacher to consider the following points:
- Is the strategy that they identified the most effective?
- Has the strategy been broken down into explicit steps that will help to reduce working memory load?
- Can you teacher explain why they have chosen that strategy and those steps?
Key questions and talking points
- Why is retrieval practice so important?
- How can you ensure retrieval practice is effective?
- Why is it important to teach information in small steps? What resources can you draw upon to support you in doing this?
- How can you make the steps in a process memorable for pupils? E.g. Name them, use mnemonics, link to memorable stories
- Why are worked and partially completed examples useful? When might you use them?