A common challenge I hear from teachers in my literacy role, is that of getting pupils to read for understanding. It seems that all too often, pupils are able to read the entirety of a text without taking in its meaning or being able to do anything with it afterwards. So why does this happen and what can we do about it? Continue Reading
The idea of ‘mastery teaching’ has been an educational buzzword for some time, but what does it really mean and what can every teacher learn from its principles? Continue Reading
Time effective strategies to make sure that feedback always leads to learning
I ran an inset today with a colleague about giving ‘Feedback with Impact’. We deliberately avoided the word ‘marking’ because there are so many ways to communicate with pupils about their learning. We wanted to focus on ‘Impact’ because feedback is only worthwhile if it leads to learning. Continue Reading
On Thursday night I gave a talk to parents on effective revision techniques as part our Year 11 Revision Evening. The aim was to illustrate some basic principles relating to memory and how these can be utilised to improve recall and retention. This is a summary of the content. Continue Reading
“Memory is the residue of thought.”–Daniel Willingham
When considering the factors leading to pupil progress, it is tempting to over complicate the issue. Whilst teaching is doubtless a complex art (or is it a science?), can learning really be attributed to one crucial variable: the amount of time that pupils spend ‘thinking hard’? Continue Reading
I have been thinking a lot about the issue of written feedback, partly as I’ve been running inset on this topic to a few different audiences. As schools tighten up on assessment, there are inevitable concerns about the sustainability of their strategies and policies. Continue Reading
On Friday, I was privileged to attend the Festival of Education at Wellington College for the second year in a row. With a packed programme of speakers, it was a fantastic opportunity to engage with a range of issues and theories in education today.
I usually find it helpful, after any full day of inset, to try and distil all of my thinking into just three points. As well as providing focus for future work, it is a great means of revisiting my notes and deciding which points should become priorities and which are not worth additional time and energy. So here are my three takeaway points from Friday’s event:
1. The basics?
In a talk about ‘Great Teaching’ (full slides here), Tom Sherrington put forward the idea that most teacher development would be best served through a focus on ‘the basics’. We spend a lot of time focusing on shiny new strategies and ideas that we hope will inject energy into our teaching, but how often to we seek to develop the things we do every day? In a separate session, Alex Quigley (https://huntingenglish.wordpress.com/), made a similar point drawing on the Pareto (80:20) Principle. The skill he mentioned that most struck a chord with me was explanation. Explanation is something that teachers do every day, but how often do we reflect on, share and seek to develop the quality of our explanatory skills?
2. Sharing and Observation
Listening to Rob Coe reflect on his ‘What Makes Great Teaching’ report from 2014, I was reminded of his research into the limitations of lesson observation as a judgemental tool. Equally, this led me to consider the importance of peer observation when used formatively. One the things I really enjoy about my current role is being able to see lots of good practice around the school and use this to develop my own teaching. It is easy to forget that not many teachers have the same opportunity to do this. I thought a lot about ways to build the capacity for teachers to engage in peer observation and hope to encourage more of this in the near future.
3. Importance of high quality training
In the final talk of the day, Philippa Cordingly (http://www.curee.co.uk/home) spoke about creating an effective environment for teacher learning. We spend a lot of time thinking about how pupils learn, but less often apply the same principles to teachers. In fact, according to an extensive meta-analysis by Viviane Robinson (Read Curee’s summary here), promoting teacher learning is the leadership activity which is most likely (by a considerable distance) to result in improved pupil outcomes. As well as thinking about how we lead effective CPD at Kennet, I also feel inspired to think about my own pedagogical learning in the knowledge that this will have an impact on the difference I make to the pupils in front of me.
Watch this blog to see what other teachers took away from this event.