What happens when the labels run out?
Last week I had the chance to speak with a group of teachers about planning and progression in early secondary.
We talked about what did we want to see our weans progress in? And we laughed about the long list of things we need to evidence progression in: productive skills, receptive skills, higher order thinking skills, are they effective contributors? Responsible citizens? Successful learners?effective communicators?
Are our learners 3rd level developing?consolidating?secure? Are they working toward 4th level……
We are so desperate at times to put learners into categories, groups, nice neat labels to make it easier for us as teachers to categorise.
I showed the teachers a picture of my daughters do recounted the story of the baby labels.
I fed my daughter myself and she didn’t hit any of the targets on the wee graph I was presented with for babies. My health visitor was beginning to put pressure on me to stop doing it myself but I knew there was nothing wrong with my daughter and I was desperate just for that wee bit longer to persevere. I was just getting to know her, get used to being a mum and I was trying my very best. My wee lady was not hitting the target weight for bottle fed babies therefore rather than help or support I was under a huge amount of pressure to get a quick fix.
I stood my ground and was referred to a feeding advisor who was just wonderful. She asked me how I was feeling? How did I think my daughter was?
Lo and behold, someone trusted my judgement about my own daughter and. It’s she and I thrived.
As predicted she turned into a wee pudding of loveliness and hit the dreaded targets in her own time.
The teachers in the room knew fine well the point I was trying to make.
How often have we been under pressure when children don’t hit targets set by people who don’t know them? Targets that don’t reflect a learning journey of diversions and alternative routes? And perhaps targets that don’t meet the needs of the learner or teacher.
I often have discussions with teachers about setting and group work. Why set so early? How do you group in class? What’s the rationale? ( we might try to dress it up but we know it’s very often as it makes our life easier)
Back to the chat with the teachers. We unpicked the big messages from national bodies, translated them into something we could actually work with and agreed that what we most wanted was the best for our students,
There’s a lovely label.
The Best.


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