Creating a culture of excellence 

Inspired in part by Shaun Allison and Andy Tharby’s book “Making Every Lesson Count” the key word for my department and for my students at the moment is “excellence”. I want to ensure that pupils fully understand what it means to produce an excellent piece of geographical work and that we fully understand how to get them to that point.

My first aim has been to change the language in my classroom when it comes to completing work so that pupils no longer feel that work is just something to get through but instead see the wider picture of practice making perfect. Last month I created a simple poster for the front of my room which said “Don’t tell me you are finished. Ask me is it excellent yet?”

I didn’t mention this new instruction but immediately they picked up on it and started using this question. This has led to pupils getting immediate feedback on work as soon as they feel they are completing it and being given highly targeted suggestions for improvements.

I feel the use of the word “yet” is also key here as it helps to develop that growth mindset and expectation that all work can become excellent given time, care and attention.

My next steps in creating this culture of excellence will include;

  1. More live modelling of how to produce sophisticated geographical writing.
  2. A Head of Department log where examples of excellent work can be recorded and praised.
  3. A wall of excellence. A corridor display showing annotated examples of excellent work.
  4. Time in department meetings to share strategies that we have tried in our own classrooms to encourage this culture to thrive. Including honest discussions of things that have not worked yet.

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