Rows vs Groups? Have your cake and eat it with creative planning.

Global Lessons on Learning

rows-vs-groupsReading time: 9 minutes.

It was my third year of teaching and I remember struggling to get my year 4 class to focus consistently. There wasn’t any particular bad behaviour, only low-level disruption that I couldn’t quite nail.

Eager to try something new, I arranged my tables in horizontal rows facing the front. It worked: behaviour rapidly improved. On the second day, the deputy head walked in and saw the layout. Obviously not happy, she pulled me to one side and said ‘that’s not how we do things here. That looks appalling to anyone that walks in – it looks like we don’t do collaborative learning, and we do.’

Nearly a decade on, it still raises my blood pressure thinking about that episode. Did she have a point though? Is there anything we can learn from what the best performers in world education do?

Although PISA isn’t the best way…

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I teach
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