You are here: Home > Headteacher’s Blog > Dude, Let’s Go Bowling

Dude, Let’s Go Bowling

Last week I led a staff meeting at which we had a lengthy discussion about Walt, Wilf and Tib. These three are not the new arrivals in Year 6, nor are they our team of reading dogs. These days, most teachers are quite familiar with Walt, Wilf and Tib, who in actual fact are acronyms relating to how we approach the important business of teaching.

One thing that is guaranteed to confuse teachers new to the profession is the difference between an activity and a learning objective. When faced with the daunting task of managing a class of 30 children, there is a tendency to think about what on earth the children are going to do, rather than what are they going to learn. And then there’s the problem that children in the class are all different, with different strengths, abilities, languages and interests. There are so many things to think about.

I was introduced to Walt, Wilf and Tib 20 years ago at a training session led by Shirley Clarke, a lecturer and researcher at the Institute of Education. These three really helped to demystify the process of planning, teaching and assessment, and made sure my teaching was focused on furthering children’s learning rather than simply entertaining the class and keeping them busy.

So who are these three?

Walt stands for ‘we are learning to’, which is the starting point for planning a lesson, and ensures the teaching is objective led. Tib, ‘this is because’, gives the children a reason as to why it’s worth their while engaging in the lesson. In my experience, people are much more likely to engage in something if there’s a good reason for doing so, unless of course it’s sudoku. Wilf stands for ‘what I’m looking for’, which is the success criteria, or a description of what a successful piece of work might look like.

Then there’s the tricky business of differentiation, or adapting the lesson to make sure it meets the needs of all the children in the class, challenging the experts and supporting those that, for a range of reasons, might need a bit of extra help. There’s a bit more going on than simply giving the class something to do – you can probably understand why those new to teaching can find this a challenge.

To simplify things, in the training session I talked about something everyone was familiar with: ten-pin bowling. This is an activity where the ‘Walt’ (or objective) is to knock down as many pins as possible, whilst the ‘Wilf’ (or success criteria) might be to use the correct grip, keep a straight arm and focus on the front pin, and the ‘Tib’ (reason for doing it) could be that being ok at bowling might avoid potential embarrassment in social situations. Whilst the Walt is the same for everyone, some players might need a bit of support, perhaps the ramp, or, rather embarrassingly, the bumpers (technically cheating), but it might be some extra encouragement, coaching or practise. And the really good players might work on developing their technique, like that funny curvy thing you see done by middle-aged men who bring their own ball.

I’m not sure if my training session helped to demystify the complex process of teaching well, but importantly, the next Inset day might just finish up at Bloomsbury Lanes.

William