On the 13th-14th October, I attended the Direct Instruction Corrective Mathematics at Avonbourne Academy in Bournemouth. Kevin Surrey and Suzy Cudapas delivered the training, it was brilliant, and I have much to share about it soon. Firstly, I wanted to share a few thoughts from Visiting Avonbourne Academy.
At break time, teachers attending the training were invited out to watch lineup. Lineup is when teachers ask pupils to stand in a straight line in silence with their peers for their next lesson together. Its purpose is for pupils to quickly transition from the playground, through the school and to their classroom. Lineup takes place in the morning, during break time, lunchtime and at the end of the school day. What I saw was a quick 6-minute turnaround from pupils speaking to their peers in the playground to an empty area with pupils already in the school building.
Many great schools do the same lineup, such as Michaela Community School, The Totteridge Academy, Great Yarmouth Charter Academy (GYCA), and many more. I have also been on many school visits where I’ve seen line up but not as effectively or purposely as I saw at Avonbourne Academy. What is an effective and purposeful lineup?
Firstly, teachers who have a lesson the following period should escort pupils to their classroom. I saw this to be the case at Avonbourne. The Assistant Principal (AP) stood up on the podium, silence fell amongst pupils, and they automatically formed a straight line with their classroom teacher walking up and down. The AP said, “Everyone’s eyes tracking me”, which means watching the speaker with your eyes. Many schools teach the term ‘SLANT’, which is explained below, and T in SLANT is usually taught to pupils explicitly to ensure they face the speaker. Result: Pupils were facing forward in a straight line and listening to the AP.
There are different variations of SLANT, here are two:
Ask & answer the questions
Nod your head
Track the Speaker
|Sit up straight with arms folded
Ask and answer questions
Track the speaker
Secondly, I noticed that lineup was purposeful because pupils had an equipment check. It took 1 minute. How? Pupils had a clear pencil case which meant that teachers could check pupils were equipment ready quickly. At Avonbourne’s lineup, teachers walked up and down the line checking pupils’ equipment. At Michaela, we would take lineup as an opportunity to chant poetry or rolling numbers (Times Table Rockstar chants).
Once pupils were ready and the equipment check was complete, the classroom teacher said, “Turn and face, please. Pace and purpose. Follow me!” Every teacher said the same thing, which showed consistency in teacher language across the school, which meant that pupils behaved consistently with all their teachers.
One classroom teacher noticed that whilst they were walking towards the school building, a couple of her pupils started speaking. She stopped the line and addressed the pupils saying, “We will do it again.” They went back into a straight line in the playground and walked into the school in silence.
The teacher demonstrated a Teach Like A Champion strategy called ‘Do it again’, which requires students to immediately repeat a task that was not completed to the teacher’s standards. The strategy is used when students cannot complete a task their teacher has already explained how to accomplish.
At the end of lineup, there was a mixed reception from the visitors. The majority, including myself, were pleased and impressed to see the calmness and purposefulness of lineup. Some commented that they felt it was too ‘regimented’. I guess it is regimented, but alternatively, it means that pupils can go into their classroom peacefully, equipment ready, and their behaviour is reset to be engaged to learn after a period of play.
Thirdly, the lineup I saw was a consistent routine that the school had for two years. Pupils know what to do, so do teachers, and when standards slip, teachers ask pupils to try to line up again to the standards set.