Aim: To develop a collaborative departmental approach to making connections between different areas of the Mathematics curriculum in order to deepen students’ understanding.
Background: The Mathematics faculty was graded Good in the 2014 review. However, with more demanding curriculum changes imminent, it was felt greater collaboration could increase the percentage of Outstanding lessons and improve students’ conceptual understanding.
Year 1: An extensive literature review was carried out and ‘making connections’ was established as an essential part of successfully understanding concepts. The Collaborative Connected Classroom (CCC) model was developed which exemplified the different aspects which would be evident in a classroom where there was effective teaching for deeper understanding. Another literature review explored methods of effective CPD so that the CCC model could be effectively shared and implemented by staff.
Year 2: The research findings were disseminated among staff and followed up by several CPD sessions where a range of tasks were shared to exemplify the theory, giving practical examples for use in the classroom.
Year 3: Colleagues were encouraged to explore aspects of the CCC model, both in terms of using resources and tasks that had been shared with them, and then to carry out their own mini action research projects on a specific area of the curriculum using the ideas from the CCC model to underpin this development. Teachers gave presentations of their research results to the faculty. A teacher development model was constructed that considered teachers moving through phases: awareness, guided exploration, independent exploration, independent development and finally the transformation phase.
Evidence: Learning walks, faculty review, book scrutiny, staff interviews.
Impact: The first strategy from the CCC model that had the biggest impact on teachers was the use of similarities and differences; three teachers transformed their everyday practice, using the strategy regularly and reporting on the success learners were having as they engaged in deeper conceptual discussions. The second strategy which had widespread use from KS3 to KS5 was the use of multiple representations with 139 counts of evidence of it being referred to or used in some form. The final area where practice was changed for several teachers was the development of teaching fraction procedures using visual images to help learners discover the procedures themselves. In-depth action research followed for three teachers in this area of study.
Faculty review at the beginning of the study graded 12% of lessons as Outstanding, at the end of the study 26% of lessons were graded as Outstanding.
Reflections: Building trust and relationships is essential for colleagues to work together to develop their own practice without fear of them making mistakes which would be perceived to impact negatively on the performance management cycle. Sustained CPD is necessary to engage teachers fully in the change process.
Teachers valued the subject-specific CPD and the fact that it was ‘in house’ meant that teachers could see it working within their own context. The full study, when published (March 2018), will be available linked to the researchers ORCiD which can be found at http://orcid.org/0000-0003-2454-0215.
Contact: Nicola Trubridge Mathematics AST, firstname.lastname@example.org