Being Scientific About the Art of Teaching.

Let’s not get hung up. Don’t don a lab coat. Put the microscope away. Bin the Bunsen burner. I’m not asking you to become some kind of Einstein-esque experimenting guru. Rather, what I am asking is for you to work out what didn’t work in your practice last week and then use the web to find ways to avoid it happening again. In the current fervour of educational improvement there is so much written evidence to draw on that to sit on our laurels is to do a disservice to those that rely on us i.e. the kids.

Flashback ten years: it was acceptable for kids not to learn if they were quiet and unobtrusive. Three part lessons were the way forward. Starters, mains and plenaries (read desserts) were the only way kid could learn.

But since then teachers have been blogging. Sharing good practice. Letting one another into the secret. Spilling the beans so to speak.

When I became a novice, great teaching was like a hidden secret. Certain gifted individuals were able to pull it off, but the majority probably couldn’t. Sometimes these individuals became ASTs; they had access to a sacred knowledge that the rest of us could only aspire to. HoDs pointed us towards them: “watch this and aspire to it. You won’t ever be able to do it, but please do aspire!”

But good old democracy took over. Hattie and Wiliam published their stuff. Suddenly it wasn’t rocket science anymore. It became accessible for every educator. Tell them what they need to know; give them the means to succeed; show them an example to aspire to; make success criteria explicit and provide a variety of routes to make it happen.

Twitter and the blogging sites have meant that the practice of teaching and CPD have truly become accessible for all of us in the profession. Suddenly we can learn not only from our own experience (which often doesn’t happen anyway due to a lack of dedicated deliberate reflection time) and from those “gurus” who visit on training days bandying about “the silver bullet”, but from the true experts themselves, those who teach 20+ hour per week and who are the real gurus. The future of the art and craft of teaching have never looked so rosy.

Clearly I’m preaching to the converted here. So, if you can, try to introduce a colleague to Twitter and blogging this coming week. It may be that the experiences they have in the classroom could be just what somebody hundreds or thousands of miles away needs to inspire and improve their own practice. You could probably learn from them yourself.

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About Andrew Warner

Mostly English teacher, AHT (T&L/literacy/CPD) & bibliophile. Irregular examiner, MTBer, armchair anthropologist & bassist. Fascinated by language & behaviour.

3 responses to “Being Scientific About the Art of Teaching.”

  1. davidjterrell says :

    Reblogged this on David J Terrell and commented:
    As I have been blogging about “teaching science insights” this blog comes handily to my rescue.

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