Close the Gap has become a calling cry for all advocates of AfL. Teachers have had the high quality CPD cover questioning and written feedback. We plan the interventions that we are going to make and name the students that we’re going to press. At every stage of the lesson we are constantly thinking back to “closing the gap”.
Has it worked – for me and our school — a definite YES. Exercise books look nothing like they used to. They are now a true reflection of the progress a learner has made, and the marking is a dialogue between the student and the teacher. Attainment has risen.
Is this correlation or causation? Strictly it’s correlation as I can’t imagine a situation where we would withdraw close the gap to see what happens – but the powers that be insist in calling it causation. So close the gap has improved our attainment.
But, and I acknowledge that I over think things sometimes, I wonder if we’ve closed the gap too much and we’ve managed to shut out “unintended learning”.
David Gessner over at www.onearth.org has written a piece on how we (man, people, humans) always look to “fix” and “improve” things – in his words to solve the “hunger” that we feel. Not actual physiological hunger, but hunger as a metaphor for “dissatisfaction”.
In his blog, David explains how, when building a timber “shed” he found a gap at the top of the door, BUT chose not to fix it as he was looking to be satisfied with imperfection.
Consciously, not lazily. I decided this was one time I wasn’t going to give in to the constant need for “improvements.” I decided that, just this once, I didn’t need more or better. — writes David Gessner
What happened next was that some wrens flew into his shed and made their nest there. If you read the article, you can see that they are doing well.
David then comments:
But right now I am enjoying a different sort of prize, and I can’t help but think this is a prize I’ve won by not doing something.
This is what made me think
By planning my lessons in so much detail and making sure that I have all the questions ready to “Close the Gap” am I closing the Gap on unintended consequences, or as I’ve said – unintended learning? Am I stopping Wrens from nesting in my shed?
My lessons don’t twist and turn as much as they used to, going off on tangents fuelled by the questions, mistakes and ignorance of my learners . Now, I’ve planned for those moments when I need to ask a higher order question to move the learning on – but on in MY direction. My lessons (mostly) end up where I planned them to.
Are my lessons ruined by Closing the Gap – definitely not, but I wonder if I have “closed the Gap” too much?
Do you let Wrens into your lessons?
Are you closing the Gap too much?