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The Teaching X Factors #ThursdayThunk

Just before half term we had the pleasure of hosting Professor David Hopkins, at the Trust, who led us through an “instructional round”.  By the end of the day we had developed a series of theories in action about the teaching we observed across Years 5, 6 & 7.  I’ll blog in more detail about this on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Gian Luigi Perrella via Flickr cc

A theory of action is an attempt to link cause and effect; that is, if a teacher does x then we would expect y to happen.  Like a number of theories– defined by Google as a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something – we may not have definitive proof that they are right; rather they are the best supposition we can currently make.  They interest us and help us move our thinking and behaviours forward.

What would your X factors, teacher behaviours, be if you want to enhance pupils’ learning?  Here are some we produced by the end of the day:

When teachers self-consciously and precisely plan and deliver lessons employing a logical development of knowledge, including the use of technical vocabulary and addressing misconceptions, through a thoughtful and progressive cyclical sequence of explanation, reflection/application and discussion then …

When teachers consistently use learning intentions that contain a condition, action verb and a clear link to success criteria, which are embedded in an overall curriculum narrative then …

When teachers purposefully set learning tasks, congruent with the logical development of knowledge, that are clearly defined, enquiry orientated, well scaffolded, differentiated in terms of support and challenge in the Zone of Proximal Development then …

When teachers consistently and purposefully develop a wide range of questioning techniques (mainly higher order but appropriate closed questions) that are both “democratic and targeted” and respect wait time then …

 When teachers use feedback from students e.g. through questioning, whiteboards, to assess the level of understanding and respond through the use of supplementary activities e.g. guided pupil discussion and specific intervention then …

When teachers strategically and consciously group students for tasks and peer assessment and use a variety of co-operative group structures (PIES) or as parts of responsive teacher directed learning then …

When the school and staff have high expectations, develop a language for learning including on displays, scaffold the teaching and learning tasks and give specific feedback, positive praise and reinforcement, then …

Do any of these chime with you?  Which ones or aspects grate?  The X factors are important as they dig into our underlying beliefs, which drive our behaviours, and ultimately what we value and prioritise in the class room.  Better to get them out and scrutinise them closely; changing what needs to be changed and strengthening what has greatest impact on our pupils.

#ThursdayThunk is based on something I’ve been thinking about, discussing, working on or has been topical that week.  The thunk is designed to be bite sized and will deliberately be kept short.  It will take one small issue or an aspect of something much bigger.  The intention is for it to be read in two/three minutes as you’re busy running around at the end of the week or relaxing on your day off.


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