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Drama’s powerful pedagogy: Building a picture of effective drama practice for the primary classroom

Read preview. Synopsis In this provocative book, David McNamara argues that a 'teacher-centred' approch to teaching in the primary school, especially in the later years is actually in the best interests of the children - that the teacher must be seen to have ultimate responsibility for what and how children learn. He attempts to define the distinctive professional expertise of the primary teacher - the application of subject knowledge within the special circumstances of the classroom - and to show how this expertise can be articulated to establish a body of educational knowledge which is both derived from practice and practically useful to others.

At a time when increasing emphasis is being placed on the role of the practising teacher as a mentor in intitial teacher education, this book will help teachers at all levels to define their own role in the creation of educational knowledge. Read preview Overview. Baylor Business Review, Vol. Teacher A later comments that: I think lessons should be led by pupils. I am there to expand their education and learning not to fit them into a mould.

This principle closely mirrors that of participatory pedagogy indicating that teacher A already had the potential mindset for the project, if not the practical knowledge of how to get to a point whereby pupils could, in reality, lead lessons. Among the comments, there were many that highlighted a misconception about the term pupil voice: Some lessons lend more easily to this than others.

Primary Gifted and Talented - Classroom Practice

Pupil voice is often a challenge in Mathematics, however I am developing this further by ensuring we have lots of discussion when reasoning Teacher A. It is not so much about giving pupils a voice or chance to speak but listening to pupils via numerous media and acting on the information or enabling pupils to act.


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They mainly focused on the school council SC : Pupil B — The SC are special like pupil A said because they have a role in school… they do like assemblies and stuff just to show like… stop bullying and stuff. Pupil C — I think the SC make the most of the changes, you can make little changes because of your behaviour, be kind and that would help the SC.

Int — Does the SC or your teacher ask your opinions? Pupil A — I never really get asked. When asked about their learning in school, they had quite a debate about whether group or individual work was better, agreeing that in fact everyone preferred a different approach. The use of tools such as lollipop sticks to ensure all pupils are engaged or have the opportunity to contribute were perceived and promoted by the Senior Leadership Team as one form of whole class collaboration. However, on discussion with staff and pupils it is questionable whether their use actually improved learning or whether the innate sense of competition and influence of peer pressure created a stressful atmosphere; some pupils thriving though for others a developing sense of dread which could lead to a paralysing of their thinking.

This quick movement between topics was felt to have a negative impact on them even though they did state they were now enjoying their new topic too. They provided a number of examples where they were participating, such as selecting their class reading book or adding questions on topics they are given.

Many schools are aiming to move towards a more creative curriculum, which blends the various curriculum subjects in a more holistic manner. Whether that reduces the amount of learning or pressure of the core subjects on pupils is not reflected in these comments. Global learning practice aims for the transformative learning experience, and I felt it was highly significant that the teachers were part of the research and design in the same way as I ask pupils and teachers to be equal partners in teaching.

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This is hoped for both teacher and pupil. Instead it aims to provide a framework for how both pupils and teachers approach teaching in the classroom. Teachers expressed concern during the second teacher twilight that pupils would decide the topics of the curriculum or opt out of learning. It is clear that schools cannot deviate from the prescribed curriculum and expectations, however, it was clarified that how a school or class teacher approaches that curriculum can be decided.

Both of these factors can be engaged within the restrictions of the curriculum. In point of fact, I consider it vital that pupils understand their own responsibility for achieving learning goals and their own accountability in the process: something which has, to my mind, become increasingly neglected within our current education system.

I will definitely deploy elements of choice into future teaching practice Teacher A. The feedback was very much teacher-framed in that all pupils had a set of questions to reflect on, which resulted in very similar responses around who they had in their working group, working with friends, and smaller or larger groups. Although the teacher feedback is very positive and indicates a change of practice and approach, I recognise that these were very small steps in terms of moving towards full participatory pedagogy and understand there is a need for further support, training and collation of examples and ideas for creating a fully participative classroom and equitable teaching approaches.

As a new approach to teaching there must be an allowance for impact both positive and negative as all participants work through the process. I consider that engagement is a significant factor in the success of any new approach, and without pupil support the pedagogy would go nowhere. As Beista argues, democracy cannot be taught but needs to be experienced, felt and reflected upon, therefore our classrooms must be democratic in order to aspire to democratic teaching and learning.

There were some concerns from the teachers about changing their approach to the teaching in class, however, their reflections indicated their change of opinion: I thought it would be quite stressful but it was much easier than I thought… you have an easier time as a teacher as they [the pupils] want to do it. Increased confidence, self-respect, competence and an improved sense of responsibility have all been reported by young people who contribute in school.

Schools also report increased motivation and engagement with learning. The pupils were really motivated; they seemed to want to do well, especially during the reflection bit with their peers. The whole choice idea… they [pupils] had more ownership and were more engaged. When the teachers were asked what they had learnt from the process, they commented: Children feel more invested in their learning when they have taken ownership.

This is very positive feedback from the teachers, and to some extent indicates a potentially transformative experience whereby the teachers will change their practice and approach. However, only further follow-up evaluations and reflections would be able to prove this claim.

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The thoughts from the pupils are somewhat more varied, with much debate on whether or not they enjoyed working in groups, pairs or on their own, though they did confirm they were pleased to have the choice, even if they made the wrong one on reflection. I wonder if their responses were more reserved as the change in teaching approach was not so marked for them; they were still essentially following teacher-directed activities but with a choice of activity and working method. How that would affect the teachers — would the positive feedback continue or recede — would be a very interesting further study.

The evidence suggests that the participatory pedagogy framework raises pupil motivation and engagement with the potential for opening a space for pupil voice, in this instance the opportunity to make their own choices and learn from those. With more time, development and practice, it could be hoped that this engagement and motivation could be harnessed and nurtured into co-agency and a belief in their own ideas and opinions especially on their own learning.

In order for any school to really engage with new approaches or skills the support of SLT senior leadership team is crucial: Being allowed [by SLT] to have a go was really helpful, we could be creative and really have a go. Realistically, there would need to be further study and research into this approach with willing and supportive SLT backing.

I must admit to a fundamental flaw in a key aspect of this research, which has been spotted and acknowledged during the reflection process. However, the same should have been conducted with the pupils themselves. I would suggest that methodologies such as Philosophy for Children P4C embody this framework and support the teacher towards a transformational move to a facilitator of learning. Further research into the links between the P4C approach and participatory pedagogy would be highly beneficial. This could be with a variety of age groups to begin to explore the potentials of participatory pedagogy at each key stage, or with educators with a range of teaching experience.

Much more research and creative design is required to provide teachers with example and specific approaches of participatory pedagogy for use in the classroom; these would need to be trialled and reflected upon critically to ensure their effectiveness. I hope this paper initiates a re-thinking of the fundamental structures of our classrooms, schools and society.

David Mcnamara, Classroom Pedagogy and Primary Practice - PhilPapers

Some may question whether this is truly required within our school system and believe that pupils already have adequate pupil voice. The school in the study was recently Feb inspected by Ofsted, and one comment within the report stands out: The group of Year 6 pupils who spoke with a member of the inspection team said they sometimes feel that adults do not listen to them. However, other evidence shows that leaders provide opportunities for pupils to express themselves through, for example, the school council.

The quote is illustrative of the perception of pupil voice or participation within education in England and also indicates the great challenge involved for those of us who wish to see a true change of mindset and pedagogical approach. From those classrooms the pupils will begin to make the real changes that will impact beyond the classroom, school and into society itself, because children are part of society, now and in our future. This is very informal — it will become clearer as we go along as to why.

Which is the least? Are schools?

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Is your classroom? Do we need to be? Ladder 25—30mins o Introduce the Ladder of Participation — sort the statements and descriptors and place on the ladder. Classroom practice? Curriculum planning? What are your thoughts? Where on the Ladder? Planning for next term 25—30 mins o Time to plan ideas and approaches for next term from various stages. Think small at first maybe and build up — give it a go. Teachers trust pupils to engage and make meaning from their learning experiences; pupils trust that teachers respect their autonomy and capacity to learn.

Pupils informed, learning prescribed or designed by teacher alone, outcomes predetermined Teacher designs the learning activities, creates the learning activities and informs pupils with expected outcomes for all. What did you feel at the time? What do you feel on reflection? Learning: What have you learnt? What next? Innovation Fund 2 — Participatory pedagogy Reflection journal Reflections overview Please provide reflections on the past 6 weeks of the project: Some suggestions — What has most surprised you?

What has been challenging?


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Published 30 June From: Department for Education. Related content Influences on students' development from age 11 to 14 Pre-school and early home learning: effects on A level outcomes Influences on students' development at age 16 Collection Effective pre-school, primary and secondary education EPPSE. Explore the topic English key stage 2 Maths key stage 2.

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