“When teachers stop learning so do students”
This was the strap line to TKAT’s Advanced Pedagogy Network Meeting and for good reason. The basis of the Network is to support and collaborate with schools across TKAT in an unwavering commitment to develop teaching. So on the 23rd November Heads and deputies along with other leaders of learning from across TKAT met at Debden Park High School to collaborate on how they develop teaching and learning. The forum allows busy leaders to take “time out” in order to consider how they are developing teaching; to pick up ideas and to contribute their expertise and experience to their counterparts in other schools.
Across the Trust schools are developing and tweaking their pedagogical models. Although all schools are at different points and have different contexts there is much to learn. Some schools are using or introducing the Accelerated Learning Cycle others are using Talk4writig as a framework to improve teaching and learning, others have created their own model or a hybrid of of many.
Following on from the themes of the Advanced Pedagogy Launch conference ( read a review of the event here:Connected Minds: The Power of Teaching at TKAT’s First Advanced Pedagogy Conference) the Network gives a forum for people in the same boat to consider and hopefully answer some of the questions below: (in no particular order, and not exhaustive)
- How do we develop teaching when things are so busy and we are faced with constant change?
- How can we keep teachers interested in developing their teaching (especially if they are ‘good’ teachers) ?
- Why is it so difficult for teachers to change their practice and how can we as leaders help them?
- Are our school structures aligned efficiently to developing teaching? How can we be sure and how can we change this if we need to?
- Which aspects of teaching do we need to improve?
- How do we measure the effectiveness of teacher development?
The Network meeting kicked off with some thought-provoking “What if…” statements. In the mad busy world of school developing teaching can sometimes be lost. So “What if…” :
Discussions occurred around the statements validity and appropriateness. Some were dismissed but many were latched onto with many saying they could and would do this is their school immediately. After all what’s the worst that can happen?
The general consensus was that if you are serious about developing teaching (and who isn’t?) you have to clear the way to increase dialogue about it. These “What if…” statements will aid this. In addition people added how they attempted to “keep the thing the thing” from rewards and well being fairies to focusing meeting agenda’s on teaching.
Having talked about some tried and tested methods for developing teaching and considered some new ideas on how to inspire teachers the group then went onto consider in more depth how their school develops teaching. The “Leading Learning Matrix” was used to help colleagues reflect and think, it also helped frame discussions and collaboration about how closely school structures are aligned to developing teaching.
The matrix is a useful tool to use regularly with leadership, middle managers, staff and with some modifying students! It helps everyone see how teaching and learning is developed and embedded (or not) in the schools structure, processes and consequently staffs mind-sets.
Once reflection on school processes had been partially exhausted a short presentation by Dr Andrew Hogan from Debden Park High School sparked more discussion and thinking about how we develop “Meta-cognition” in students. It can, if done properly yield huge result for students learning, and it tops the table of things you can do to raise achievement:
The discussion hurt heads and everyone was thinking but in the end Dylan Wiliam summed up meta-cognition perfectly:
It is certainly something which we will revisit as a network, because no matter which pedagogical model you are using this can and should be incorporated.
The final part of the meeting was a reflection on how, during the longest term of the year when everyone gets caught up in the day to day do those who are leading learning keep people focused on developing their teaching. Examples from around the room were taken, including The Mills use of teaching “Top Trumps” an adaptation of the Trade Cards where teachers use these in meetings to spark conversation about teaching and learning. Another example this time from DPHS was a “Teaching and Learning” Bulletin sent out every two weeks, just a two sided A4 sheet full of hints, tips and most importantly examples of great pedagogy from the staff in the school. Another example was to have a sign in your office which states “If you are talking, We are going to talk about learning” so that at the start or end of a conversation you have to talk about one of the “Trade Cards”
The Network meeting ended just before for 4pm with everyone full of ideas and thoughts on how to constantly develop teaching in their schools.
The next meeting is at The Mill Primary School on the 11th Jan 2017 which amongst other things will involve some lesson observations to see how The Mill are developing the Top Trump Cards.
Many of these themes on how to lead learning and develop a culture of learning are covered in this superb book by John Tomsett. In particular chapter 12 “You can’t just wish to be better” has insights into setting up and sustaining effective teacher development.