Diamonds are forever, aren’t they?

Shapes, lesson plans and rocks – diamonds are everywhere, even when they shouldn’t be! The good and bad points of a diamond.

  
Firstly a rant. This is a rhombus. We insist upon teaching our children technical terms which they will probably never use outside of school in all sorts of areas, particularly phonics, so why not a rhombus?

The problem starts early, my 2 year old has a wooden peg puzzle with the above shape labelled ‘diamond’. This is then reinforced in Reception & Key Stage 1, I’m sure it isn’t every teacher but I’ve seen the posters on walls. It wouldn’t be so bad if it even looked like a diamond but surely a diamond shape should be an irregular pentagon? 

  

So when I teach quadrilaterals I have to ban the word diamond and retrain the children to call it a rhombus. So please, if you teach young children, design resources or make peg puzzles – don’t call a rhombus a diamond. Rant over!

But that isn’t the only way diamonds are taking over my life – the diamond lesson plan is our schools chosen model for creating an Assessment for Learning environment. Over the past year or so I have taken it onboard more and more, applying the theory and making it work in all different subjects. I have to say I like it! For the first time I can see differentiation working properly because it is flexible, I feel like teaching is focused and learning is accelerated.

I have been in teaching long enough to recognise a fad, this isn’t one – it makes sense, it helps children and it uses teacher’s time efficiently. So what is the catch? It needs a teacher!

I’ve got a cynical feeling that at some point in the not too distant future there will be a move to water down the qualifications and the cost of teaching staff but to apply an AfL model you need a real teacher. Someone who can devise a challenging lesson, manage differentiated teaching inputs, asses on the spot and plan ‘in the moment’. In addition they will need to have the time to carry out further assessment and give immediate feedback before the next lesson whilst also planning an equally sparkling diamond lesson for the next day, building on the learning achieved today.  I’m not sure an hourly paid instructor would fancy that?

Whilst the diamond lesson generally gets a thumbs up from this teacher, it is still hard work. Is that work made a little bit easier because you feel like it is having an impact? Yes! Plus, it could just be the saviour of the profession.

Look out for future posts about how to make the diamond lesson work in a primary school.

So will I be buying diamonds for Valentine’s Day? On a teacher’s wage – I don’t think so!