Co-Creating Success Criteria


By Susan Cowell

Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn
—  Benjamin Franklin

I have been meaning to write this blog for a few months now and was spurred on by some surprising replies to a Tweet by @shirleyclarke_ in November.

In my mind, the most important aspect of what Shirley is saying here is that the more that teachers can involve children in the formation of what they are learning, the more likely the children are to learn.

Although some Tweets seemed to be backing Shirley, there were a few teachers who seemed to be focusing on the act of typing the success criteria, printing them out and sticking them in each book. Personally, if I knew that my child was being asked to spend even 5 minutes of their precious contact time with their teacher with a glue stick in hand, I would be questioning how this is helping them in their learning process.

As @HCPS_Head tweeted in response:

“I don’t think many children will sit there thinking, ‘Why have we co-constructed SC when it was already stuck in?’ Process is the key part”.

Involvement is the key. The more responsibility a learner has in the learning process, the more emotional attachment they will have to what they are learning.

Practically speaking and returning to co-constructed success criteria specifically, @MrsTopCat75 suggests that a more useful method would be to co-construct as a class on the board and keep referring to the success criteria throughout the lesson. I have seen this and it works fantastically to involve pupils in the ‘how’ they can gain a better understanding of the learning objective through ownership and also ensures that learning takes place immediately with no time wasted.

So why is there so much pre-occupation with typing and sticking success criteria into books? If less time could be spent typing and gluing, would teachers have more time to provide verbal feedback to the children or coach them through how to apply their success criteria?

By involving children in the construction of success criteria, they will not onlyremember, but they will also gain a depth of understanding. This should help them to peer/self-assess and apply this new knowledge to other areas of the curriculum independently. Perhaps more importantly, the role of a teacher is not only to teach a child through a curriculum, but to prepare them for life where they will no longer be supported and told what or how to learn.

Recommended reading and useful links:

There is a great book about emotional learning by Andrew Curran called ‘The Little Book of Big Stuff About the Brain’. Similarly, if you have not already, I would advise looking into Cognitive Load Theory, which is the science behind the process of learning in schema.

In ‘The Learning Power Approach’ by @GuyClaxton talks about ‘learning by design’. This is the concept that creating ownership and buy-in for pupils increases their independence and better prepares them for life. @beckycarlzon ‘s Learning Power Kids explains this brilliantly and gives practical examples.

By Susan Cowell –