Our Approach to Teaching
At Trinity Academy, all staff (including teachers, pastoral and learning support staff) work closely together to get better in three key classroom processes: Teaching, Learning and Remembering. We do this through incremental coaching (each member of staff is coached by another), co-planning (all staff within a department meet once a week to plan together) and whole-school professional development.
We believe teaching is a highly skilled and complex process that is built on routines and relationships. All teachers follow our centralised behaviour policy to a high level of consistency – this provides children with a calm and purposeful environment to learn. Our teachers are considered subject experts who can command the attention of a whole class and provide instructions with absolute clarity and precision. Our students show they are attentive when a teacher is addressing the class. They do this through an active listening technique called SLANT (‘sit up’, ‘listen’, ‘ask and answer questions’, ‘nod to show you understand’ and ‘track the teacher’). Teachers think deeply about how to present new subject content in ways that make it ‘stick’ in the minds of the students. We encourage the use of high-quality textbooks in lessons and expect teachers to guide students through the learning process, rather than expecting students to discover things for themselves.
After being introduced to new content, our students are given the opportunity to think deeply about it – it is through this act that learning happens. Often this will involve extended periods of writing, during which, working in silence is the norm. Activities are structured to stretch high-attaining students, and scaffolded to support those who are more likely to struggle. Teacher feedback is predominantly given verbally to the whole class, rather than through individual comments written in books. Students frequently correct their own work in green pen. Student discussions, called ‘Turn and Talks’ are highly structured and designed to improve oracy.
We are guided by the belief that understanding is actually remembering in disguise. In other words, we understand new information by connecting it to existing knowledge, which is only possible if we remember the things we learn. We know that learning something once doesn’t mean it can be remembered easily. It takes time and repeated practice to commit new knowledge securely in long term memory. Students begin lessons with ‘Do Nows’ – generally a series of questions that mix both recently and more distantly acquired knowledge. Teachers also explicitly link any new knowledge to existing knowledge and introduce it in manageable chunks. Our assessment cycle also promotes remembering. Wherever possible, assessments are cumulative in nature and students are explicitly taught how to prepare for them.