Reading 94% (national average 79%)
Level 1 writing 84% (national average 70%)
Level 1 Maths 82% (national average 55%)
Ian: What current job are you in? What Sector?
Sean: I am teaching apprentices at the moment. I teach functional skills.
What are the functional skills?
English and Maths at Level 1 and 2, and in some cases, there will be ICT at level 2 as well.
So, you are using the HOW2s to teach all those students?
Yes, that is correct. I’ve also taught in post-16 colleges and prisons.
Did you use HOW2s when you were working in colleges and prisons?
Looking at your current job, what impact has using HOW2s had on helping you achieve your results?
I think it has had an enormous impact and to understand that I wouldn’t mind talking about the types of students I teach at the moment. So, I’m teaching people who are to become lorry drivers, or predominantly that is what they are coming to do – to drive LGVs. As part of their apprenticeship, they are pretty unhappy to discover that they’ve got English and Maths to complete up to Level 1 and attempt Level 2. The ages can range from 18 and upwards, and a lot of the students I have are students who say that they have had a horrendous time at school and can’t get on with it. One of the HOW2s I get them to use is “Capturing Progress”. I get them to talk about how they feel in certain areas and how they can improve upon them. They tend to get quite a low score to begin with, but as soon as we’ve done about 10 minutes and they understand that area in, say maths, if they originally put down a low score and now they’ve put down a high score, they’ve already bought into the lesson. I can turn around students as quickly as that with one HOW2 and get them interested in the class. So HOW2s have been quite vital for my results.
Brilliant. So, are you saying ‘buy in’ is essential to get results?
What improvement do you see in the student’s engagement and motivation? You’ve covered it previously, but could you go into more detail about that?
Yes, of course. Well, it’s the buy-in. The buy-in is huge because they are all quite surprised that they have to do the English and Maths. So I usually get the quote like “I’m here to drive a lorry mate, not do English and Maths!”. And, of course, I talk with them to try to win them over to see the benefits of doing it. But using the HOW2s, I can get the buy-in to it quickly.
Are you saying that using these techniques is very different from the experience that they’ve had at school?
I’ve never been a school teacher, so I’d struggle to comment on that, but they say that they feel more included. So, with the “Capturing Progress”, we again adapt it and use “Negotiated Learning Goals” to work out what order our lessons are going to be in because it highlights all the main areas that we are going to cover. So, when they see pretty high scores against all the main areas, they know that they’ve covered everything they need to pass the test.
Could you give me some examples of other techniques that you’ve found useful?
One of my favourite ways to end the session is “Reverse Snowball”. It creates an opportunity for the whole class to have discussions, which I find is fantastic and, as well as getting the main points from every single group and person onto one sheet, I’ve used it in such a way that I then go on to photocopy these sheets that the whole class have come up with, and they use it for their coursework.
So, that is “Capturing Progress”, “Negotiated Learning Goals”, “Reverse Snowball”; what others have you used? What techniques do you use the most?
I use “Mini whiteboards” an awful lot. I use them to check for understanding, make sure that everyone is involved, recap on previous sessions, and preview understanding of forthcoming content for really complicated things in functional skills — like checking spellings. I also use “Clarifying Objectives” and “Smooth Transitions” to ensure they know what to do and understand what to do and how to do it before moving to independent learning tasks.
Did you find that you imagined yourself as the teacher when you used the HOW2s to learn new techniques?
Yes, I assume that is what everyone does. I tend to picture not only myself but also my students. I tend to imagine the students that I have had in the past that I found most challenging and then plan the activity as if they were in my session. If it works for these situations, it will work for all of my students.
How many times did you need to go back to learn a new technique before you felt confident teaching it in front of a class?
To be honest with the infographics, I quickly pick the techniques up. I have on occasions gone back to clarify that I was doing it correctly, but the first time around, I tend to pick up a lot of the information.
So, did you feel pretty confident when you were looking at the visuals that you could commit it to memory?
Yes, absolutely. The only one that I needed to spend more time on was “Coded Feedback”, and that was because we were making one up for a computer-based system.
What about adapting the HOW2s? Did you ever look at a HOW2 and think yes, I could use that, but I would need to change step 2, for example?
Yes, I have adapted a few things, especially in making up resources. But, again, going back to “Capturing Progress” and “Reverse Snowball”, I’ve made up my resources to use them in a way that suits my students’ context.
So, how do you find your students when you are using the HOW2 techniques? Are they, for example, relaxed, interested in what you are proposing to do? What was their experience of your new teaching technique?
Interested, of course, but wary at the same time. They were a bit unsure and didn’t see the point of it, to be perfectly honest, particularly with “Capturing Progress”. But once you’ve explained to them the purpose of this, you get the buy-in very, very quickly. So, I feel that they do work well and pick it up as long as you take the time to explain what you hope to gain from each activity.
Do you feel that students had learned more through these techniques than in your previous experience when you didn’t have the HOW2s?
Once again, I feel that they have learned more, and from a teaching point of view, I think it is easier to demonstrate that they are making progress using HOW2s.
Thanks, Sean. It’s been a pleasure meeting you.
You are very welcome. It’s been great meeting you.