This whole-school initiative was probably the least effective in many ways, perhaps because the onus was on the students rather than the teachers. The idea was that students should focus on trying to take a risk, being brave and challenging themselves to have a go, even when not 100% sure of an answer. This is indicated through crossing their fingers if their hand is up, or writing ‘RR’ in the margin during written work.
Positive comments were such that students attempted the harder questions, enjoyed the perceived low-consequence for ‘wrong’ answers, and were supported by encouragement from teachers. Other teachers did not find that it made any difference. There may have been some confusion and mixed messages as we had previously tried a ‘no hands up’ day so I should have addressed that in the staff briefing, and student info slides. No hands up was to encourage teachers to think about the types of questioning they use, and to encourage think-pair-share and other techniques. This was supposed to be used whether or not hands were up, and to encourage less brave students to contribute during whole-class question and answer sessions.
Disappointingly, there were some students who did not seem to know anything about it. Tutor time is extremely busy, so perhaps it is not surprising that it may have slipped some tutors’ mind. Further initiatives of this sort will need to be re-thought in terms of logistics to maximise impact and discussion between staff and students.