Meta Teacher Challenges – Working Walls and more….

Metateacher Challenge - Workng Walls - Reflect Growth

On the Tenth of November the Co-create group met, once again, to reflect on our teaching practices. This time our venue was the Microsoft Innovation Center in the city as well as our virtual space.  Reflect Growth are one of a small cohort of start ups, recognised by Microsoft to be disruptive innovators in our respective fields.  We’re honoured to be part of the Microsoft family in this way.  It’s great that they want to support innovation at a local level in South Australia and it’s even more wonderful that we can use their awesome facilities to  help empower local educators with the work we’re all doing 🙂

Meta Teacher Challenge One RE

Meta Teacher Challenge – Where the conversation is at!

Teachers had spent time considering how we might use Working Walls during last term’s MetaTeacher Challenge.  As a result, this session was framed around how we could use our classroom walls more effectively; as an aid to increasing learning opportunities and student agency.  A couple of the gang really went for it and tried out different methods, some online, most on the ‘real’ walls of their classrooms.  @markeetarp@jolanta and @jess-heysen agreed to present for us and share their stories, their reflections and, most importantly, what they had learnt.

What are working walls?

In simple terms, a working wall is used to indicate on a display board the starting point and learning outcome for the lesson unit being taught. You then record the journey between the two points on the board.

Mark Hitchen – TES

It’s a pedagogical tool that is very prevalent in the UK. In fact it’s something that the inspectors are working on with the team at @kell_elizabeth ‘s school (in the UK). I’m trying to pin her down for a video interview so she can share some of the strategies that they’ve found useful.  I’m really glad that this is something that is growing in use here in Australia too.  Working walls are a tool which ask you to STOP displaying beautiful, ordered, ‘final’ pieces of work and instead showcase a learning journey, as it happens in your classroom.  You start with the goal,  share where you’re at before you begin –  their current or prior knowledge, you showcase the learning as it happens and then share the end point or outcome you’ve all achieved.  There are many ways to run a working wall and, as we’ve discovered throughout the challenge, these different walls can be used to elicit different types of learning journeys and challenges.

Questions - Working Walls

Meta Teacher Challenge – Working Walls Reflective Questions

Before they presented I shared this document with them (feel free to use this too).  I went through our now tried and tested, Teaching Quality rubric and found plenty of opportunities where a “Working Wall” might help us to demonstrate a particular teaching standards, or more importantly, as a deep questioning of our own practice as a teacher and learner.  Interestingly, by going through this process I discovered that this one, pedagogical tool had the potential to cover twelve different Aitsl Standards (as well as 10 of the separate criteria in our  Reflect Growth rubric).  Imagine if we could have a way to easily identify that, just by teaching and sharing practice? Oh wait…. that’s what we’re making isn’t it ;)…

As the ladies presented to the room (and the virtual space too), it became really apparent, really quickly, that they’d attacked the challenge in completely different ways.  I love it when that happens.  There was such a rich opportunity for developing and growing through experiencing the learning through different eyes.

@marketarp‘s walls were used more as a scaffolding tool.  As a way for students to see their progress, to refer to information throughout their unit of work and to gain feedback from their peers as they went.  I loved how her class had used the windows and invited other classes to give feedback using post it notes, how the walls had created spaces where students were measuring themselves and taking ownership of their learning and the progress they made.  Surrounded by constant visual reminders she even told us about how she was able to abandon and more ‘traditional’ test on statistical numeracy because the children were so happy to share their knowledge using their walls and the conversation.

@jolanta ‘s class had really enjoyed the space to own their ideas and develop them.  She shared how their thinking had grown and developed, had deepened as they were given a physical space to share their thoughts, review them and grow them further.  They really valued this opportunity.

The Headlines

I picked up the following key, repeating themes as I watched and reflected on my own practice.

  • Learning is messy. Embrace it! It was hard for all of us to let go of the idea of ordered, neat, pretty displays and embrace the chaos of mess of learning.  Have you see my working wall?

  • Working walls are powerful!  Each teacher had used working walls to achieve many different things for themselves and their students.  Assessment, modelling, scaffolding, non-verbal communication, collaboration, empowerment.  This pedagogical strategy can be used in a hundred different ways – and sometimes all at once

  • Students need to access it, all the time, anytime.  They need to be able to reach it, to touch it, to read it and to build it themselves.

  • Students love this!  Every class loved their wall.  There was some discussion about how one group of students didn’t really respond well until they were given a certain way to work.  They prefered chalk pens on windows to post-its on walls.

  • Working walls remind students that what they learn in English still applies in… well every other subject.  If those sentence structures are in your face.. if your learning is proudly being displayed and shared and you an see it then you’re going to proudly use it in all areas of your working day.

What would you add to this list?


MetateacherChallenge1- Reflect“Meta teacher Challenge 1”  by Jess Heysen was shared via Twitter.


Pictures in the Image Carousel taken from presentations given and freely shared by @markeetarp, @jolanta and @jess-heysen

All other images used are owned by Reflect Growth and are shared under Creative Commons License NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International


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