Teaching Teachers

At some point many of us will be involved in the training of other teachers, whether it is a formal part of our role or through involvement in a project, such as via the Maths Hubs, or as a mentor or even by just being an experienced member of a department. I have been reflecting on this recently as I have been lucky enough to deliver some training sessions to the PGCE students at two of our local universities.

The EEFs recent Guide to Effective Professional Development has been really useful in outlining the mechanisms that we need to focus on when delivering CPD. These mechanisms are worth repeating here:

Build knowledge
Managing cognitive load • Revisiting prior learning

Motivate staff
Setting and agreeing on goals • Presenting information from a credible source • Providing affirmation and reinforcement after progress

Develop teaching techniques
Instruction • Social support • Modelling • Monitoring and feedback •Rehearsal

Embed practice
Providing prompts and cues •Prompting action planning • Encouraging monitoring • Prompting context specific repetition

However, what has interested me particularly about delivering training to PGCE students recently however has been the practise of teaching the trainee teachers in the same way that we would teach the children in our classes.

As James Kendrick from Brighton University introduced my session he began with a countdown from 10 to get the room of 35 students to stop talking and pay attention, in just the same way as I would do for my classes in school. This is a really effective and simple behaviour management tool, and by the students seeing it being modelled in their sessions, this is normalising the technique for them and making them more confident about using it in their classrooms. I wanted to use mini whiteboards in my sessions, and at Brighton this is part of normal practise so they already had all of the equipment ready and were used to using them. As a visiting speaker, I made sure to make explicit my own rules for mini whiteboard use as I started my session – what to write on them, when to hold them up and how, thereby modelling to them how important it is to provide clear, unambiguous instructions on the behaviours that I expected to see. During the session I also modelled other techniques that I would use with my classes, for example asking them to think for a minute, then share their thoughts with the person next to them for a minute, before I took feedback. As they are right at the start of their teaching careers I needed to be mindful that the students were novices, and to be careful not to overload them, but I hope that by consistent and repetitive use of these techniques by both myself and the university staff they will get a head start on how they could work in the classroom.

In Kieran Mackle’s appearance on Craig Barton’s Tips for Teachers podcast he also mentions this: Tip no. 2 is “Treat the act of teacher development like teaching” and this really chimed with me given my experience above. Although we have a wealth of good research now on how to help our students learn, we often forget to put these same techniques into practise with our colleagues. Kieran uses the explain, model, practise cycle when he is working with primary teachers in his role. He will provide more support to new teachers and gradually fade this as they become more experienced in the same way that we might use faded worked examples with students.

His Tip no. 3 also links: “be explicit when modelling for colleagues”. I think that this becomes really powerful with teachers that are more experienced and are looking to tweak their practice. In The Teacher Gap, Allen and Sims talk about “Small actionable teaching assignments” and how making these small changes can have a big impact. At Durrington we have been using instructional coaching for a couple of years now, both with our ECTs and with our recently qualified teachers, and this year we are expanding this to use with all staff. Ambition Institute defines instructional coaching as a way of developing expertise through deliberate practice of a series of sub-goals to move towards a target. This is much the same way that in teaching we might break down a task into a series of small steps. I think that there are many benefits to using this technique with teacher improvement. We all know that giving generalised feedback to students such as “you need to revise more” is not very useful or actionable compared to “you need to make sure you use your flashcards to learn definitions for 15 minutes each day”. With teachers we have the added benefit of de-personalising feedback – much better to work on “using Pastor’s Perch to start students on their independent tasks” than being told “you need to settle the class better as they are taking too much”.

So next time you are involved in teaching teachers, at whatever level, do not forget the wealth of expertise that you already have in teaching students, and draw upon this to help get the best possible outcomes.

Deb is a maths teacher at Durrington High School. She is also a Maths Research Associate for Durrington Research School and Assistant Maths Hub Lead for Sussex Maths Hub.

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Weekly Round-Up: 23rd September 2022

Blog of the Week

Prior Knowledge and Learning New Information: The Rich Get RicherDr. Althea Need Kaminske

A really interesting insight into the world of experimental cognitive science. Although not from the classroom, some useful guidance on how prior knowledge supports learning.

Class Teaching

Driving the Durrington WayBen Crockett

Assistant Director of Durrington Research School Ben Crockett explains how an initiative to reinforce culture and routines at Durrington is being threaded through curriculum areas.

Research School Blog

New Director, Same DirectionChris Runeckles

Chris Runeckles looks forward to the coming year and the training offer at Durrington Research School

Other Useful Links

DMAT is looking to grow!

We are looking to grow our trust and are interested in speaking to like-minded schools.  

  • In light of the white paper are you exploring academisation?
  • Do you want to join us and write the story for a growing multi-academy trust?
  • Are you interested in utilising the expertise of our own Research School and SCITT to enhance teacher development and recruitment in your school?
  • Are you looking for a trust that is respectful of retaining a school’s unique characteristics and autonomy, as well as being committed to collaborative working?

If the answer to the above questions is yes, then come along to our forthcoming MAT information evening on 29th September to hear more.  Click here for further details and to register a place for the event and here to find out more about DMAT.

Deep Dive Days 2022-23:

This year the Durrington Research School is offering a range of one-day workshops on EEF guidance reports and evidence reviews.  You can book your place here.

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Weekly Round-Up: 16th September 2022

Blog of the Week

4 Questions to Use When Checking Students’ Knowledge and UnderstandingInner Drive

Fitting perfectly with our current whole-school teaching and learning focus, this blog and accompanying graphic gives some great advice on questions to check for knowledge and understanding.

Class Teaching

Driving the Durrington WayBen Crockett

Assistant Director of Durrington Research School Ben Crockett explains how an initiative to reinforce culture and routines at Durrington is being threaded through curriculum areas.

Research School Blog

New Director, Same DirectionChris Runeckles

Chris Runeckles looks forward to the coming year and the training offer at Durrington Research School

Other Useful Links

DMAT is looking to grow!

We are looking to grow our trust and are interested in speaking to like-minded schools.  

  • In light of the white paper are you exploring academisation?
  • Do you want to join us and write the story for a growing multi-academy trust?
  • Are you interested in utilising the expertise of our own Research School and SCITT to enhance teacher development and recruitment in your school?
  • Are you looking for a trust that is respectful of retaining a school’s unique characteristics and autonomy, as well as being committed to collaborative working?

If the answer to the above questions is yes, then come along to our forthcoming MAT information evening on 29th September to hear more.  Click here for further details and to register a place for the event and here to find out more about DMAT.

Deep Dive Days 2022-23:

This year the Durrington Research School is offering a range of one-day workshops on EEF guidance reports and evidence reviews.  You can book your place here.

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Weekly Round-Up: 9th September 2022

Blog of the Week

The What and Why of Routines in School Culture – James Dyke

In this post James explains the value of routines in school culture. He also deals with why routines support effective school culture and instruction

Class Teaching

Driving the Durrington Way – Ben Crockett

Assistant Director of Durrington Research School Ben Crockett explains how an initiative to reinforce culture and routines at Durrington is being threaded through curriculum areas.

Research School Blog

New Director, Same Direction

Chris Runeckles looks forward to the coming year and the training offer at Durrington Research School

Other Useful Links

Plus a couple of links from our final T&L bulletin email (in case you missed it on Sunday)…

DMAT is looking to grow!

We are looking to grow our trust and are interested in speaking to like-minded schools.  

  • In light of the white paper are you exploring academisation?
  • Do you want to join us and write the story for a growing multi-academy trust?
  • Are you interested in utilising the expertise of our own Research School and SCITT to enhance teacher development and recruitment in your school?
  • Are you looking for a trust that is respectful of retaining a school’s unique characteristics and autonomy, as well as being committed to collaborative working?

If the answer to the above questions is yes, then come along to our forthcoming MAT information evening on 29th September to hear more.  Click here for further details and to register a place for the event and here to find out more about DMAT.

Deep Dive Days 2022-23:

This year the Durrington Research School is offering a range of one-day workshops on EEF guidance reports and evidence reviews.  You can book your place here.

Posted in General Teaching | Leave a comment

Driving the Durrington Way

While the fond memories of no-school Sundays or simply having a coffee in peace may remain a little painful, there is something amazing about a school churning back into motion at the start of a new academic year. As always, this first week back has been a great opportunity to reflect on the successes of last year and the summer, however it is always a time of evolving and re-establishing the important processes, routines and procedures that ensure the smooth running of any school.

One thing that has been talked about and referred to relentlessly since we returned at Durrington last week, is the “Durrington Way”. This initiative is being led by John Fuller, one of our Deputy Heads, and is an attempt to distil exactly what our core expectations are in regards to student conduct in school and perhaps most importantly what is means to be part of our community. The “Durrington Way” is intended to drive and shape our approach to expectations and routines in and out of the classroom at Durrington, leaving no “grey areas” of interpretation of what being part of “Team Durrington” involved. The “Durrington Way” is split 5 sections titled as follows:

  • We show kindness, aspiration, perseverance and pride in all that we do
  • We are kind and show respect to each other
  • We maintain a calm and purposeful atmosphere
  • We take responsibility for our own learning
  • We make a valuable contribution to the school community

John has led on this from the end of last term, and the Durrington Way has featured heavily in start of term INSET, staff meetings and student assemblies. It has been great to see staff and students respond to its implementation, however as with any project there is always the nagging fear of how do you sustain it and ensure it reaches every corner of your school. I think such concerns are particularly pertinent to strategies such as this that run the risk of being seen as quite abstract or something done outside of the classroom (i.e. during social times) rather than within it. As such it has been a pleasure to see the great work curriculum teams have been doing in discussing and then explicitly explaining to students how the “Durrington Way” will look in their subjects. This keeps the initiative at the forefront of everyone’s mind but also ensure a united front from leadership, pastoral and curriculum areas to drive the “Durrington Way”. Below are just a few examples of how some of our subject areas are making the Durrington Way very concrete in their areas:

In Maths the team have begun all lessons with a consistent presentation entitled the “Durrington Way in Maths”. The presentation repeats the expectations shared students first assembly, but goes onto to give concrete examples of how students in class and book work will reflect the “Durrington Way”. The team are keen to ensure students take responsibility for their own learning, telling students that they will be expected to take their books home after each lesson to support with their homework, but that they are responsible for ensuring they have their book with them at each lesson. The team also clearly outline to student the justification behind their expectations, for example when explaining how students are responsible for quickly entering the room and immediately beginning to the do now retrieval tasks on the board, all teacher within the team modelled and explained Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve. Students were also asked to stick into the covers of their books a small document (see below) outlining the Durrington Way expectations in Maths so these can be referred back to in future lessons

The Science team have done something similar, again sharing a consistent presentation to all classes – again focusing on the concept of students taking responsibility for the own learning by explicitly modelling how students can use knowledge organizer and checklists to regulate their own learning. The presentation also showed exemplary examples of past work clearly annotated with how it had met the expectations of the department and demonstrated the pride taken in the work by students.

In Geography students have also been shown examples of excellent work from previous years to set the bar, while also being guided through a “Durrington Way in Geography” document outlining the routines and expectations of students before, during and after lessons. Sam Atkins, Head of Geography, has aligned these expectations with out KAPP principles. For example, clearly outlining the importance of respecting the classroom environment and others under the banner of “Kindness” and the need for high quality presentation and organization of work under the theme of “Pride”. Once again, this document was taking centre stage on the front of student books so it could be regularly referred back to in future lessons.

Of course, it will take more than just a presentation at the start of the year or a Durrington Way checklist being stuck into books to ensure that the ethos and culture we want becomes embedded – however it is good way to start. Perhaps most importantly it builds a narrative to students that the “Durrington Way” is central to how our school wants to work, it is not just something that is said in assemblies; it is at the core of every lesson they go into. If we are to drive the “Durrington Way” forward then it cannot just be driven by a few voices in year group assemblies, it must be present at assembles, tutor time, social times and subject lessons (which is where students spend most of their school day).

By Ben Crockett (@BenCrockett1)

Assistant Director of Research School

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Weekly Round-Up: 17th July 2022

Blog of the Week

5 Teaching & learning studies we read (or re-read) this yearBradley Busch

In this really useful blog, Bradley summarises findings from five research papers and explores their implications for classroom teachers.

Classteaching

Re-VisionDeb Friis

Deb shares how she is re-thinking revision.

Research School Blog

Eight things from five yearsShaun Allison

Departing Research School Director reflects on what he has learnt after five years in role.

Other Useful Links

DMAT is looking to grow!

We are looking to grow our trust and are interested in speaking to like-minded schools.  

  • In light of the white paper are you exploring academisation?
  • Do you want to join us and write the story for a growing multi-academy trust?
  • Are you interested in utilising the expertise of our own Research School and SCITT to enhance teacher development and recruitment in your school?
  • Are you looking for a trust that is respectful of retaining a school’s unique characteristics and autonomy, as well as being committed to collaborative working?

If the answer to the above questions is yes, then come along to our forthcoming MAT information evening on 29th September to hear more.  Click here for further details and to register a place for the event and here to find out more about DMAT.

Deep Dive Days 2022-23: Booking Open!

Next year the Durrington Research School will be offering a range of one-day workshops on EEF guidance reports and evidence reviews.  You can now book your place here.

Thank you for reading, commenting and sharing this year.

Huge thanks to all the brilliant bloggers, who have shared their thoughts and made it possible to keep going with this.

Have a great summer!

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Re-Vision

This may seem like a strange time of year to be talking about revision – all the exams are over and we are looking forward to the end of term. However listening to a recent podcast on Craig Barton’s Tips for Teachers made me reflect on our use of the word. Julia Smith (@TessMaths) is an expert in teaching GCSE Resit maths students and she makes the point that “revision should start at day one of a course, not at the end”. She talks about revision being a “re-visioning of the maths”, meaning both trying the ensure that students see the maths differently but also by clever use of resources which help them to make connections and tie elements together. Julia is dealing with students who have already experienced “failure” in maths as they have not achieved the grade 4 in Year 11 that is required for them to drop the subject. They are often the same students who struggle to remember the basics as soon as they leave the classroom and Julia advises that we discuss revision with them all the time, going through how, what, when and where to revise, as well as who to revise with. She also suggests that sometimes gimmicks are good, and she introduces a project management tool called the Pomodoro technique to her students, which is basically using a plastic tomato kitchen timer to keep focus for short periods.

My go-to resource when discussing revision with students has to be https://www.learningscientists.org/ which has a great selection of useful resources and videos aimed at students. This great overview video starts with explaining why spaced practice is better (“the key is consistent, short study sessions over time”) and then goes on to summarise six science-based strategies. This will be a great way to start the year for both my form group and my classes in September. As well as videos the site also has some fabulous printable resources including posters, bookmarks and even stickers:

In maths we are using the bit of extra time that we have now to make Key Facts cards for all of our topics. The idea is that they can be used by teachers in a number of ways, for example for low stakes quizzes at the start of the lesson, or as flashcards that the students can make themselves and use at home. We have concentrated on facts and definitions rather than techniques or methods, as we find that some of our students are at a particular disadvantage because they are not fluent in these basics. I am hoping that I can drip-feed these to my Foundation class throughout the year so that they see their revision as manageable and ongoing, and combine using these with the other strategies.

At Durrington we also have designated sessions during Period 1 (our Form time) which our KS4 tutor groups use for revision. We have a different core subject focus each half term. Twice a week the students use the half hour in the morning to make flashcards from information provided and they then test themselves and their friends on the material. At the start of year 10 we use the material from the Learning Scientists website mentioned above to train the tutor groups on the best techniques for making flashcards and how to use them effectively, as well as explaining spaced practice and interleaving.

So even though exam season is at last well and truly over, revision will be the first thing we talk about at the start of next term with our students as it really makes sense to do so, and I am also preparing a pack for my year 10s to do over the Summer. As I said to them, if I was training for a marathon I would not take six weeks off in the middle, I’d at least make sure I did a quick run round the block every day!

Deb is a maths teacher at Durrington High School. She is also a Maths Research Associate for Durrington Research School and Assistant Maths Hub Lead for Sussex Maths Hub.

Find out more about the ‘Deep Dive Days’ being offered by the Durrington Research School next year.

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Weekly Round-Up: 10th July 2022

Blog of the Week

Motivation and learning: what comes first? Daniel Muijs

A really useful review of the research looking at the relationship between motivation and learning.

Classteaching

Resetting ExpectationsZofia Reeves

Zofia shares three ways the Durrington maths department are planning to reset expectations.

Research School Blog

What have we learnt about tackling educational disadvantage?

Implementation case study:  Harbour Primary & Nursery School, East Sussex

A new Research School Director for Durrington

Other Useful Links

DMAT is looking to grow!

We are looking to grow our trust and are interested in speaking to like-minded schools.  

  • In light of the white paper are you exploring academisation?
  • Do you want to join us and write the story for a growing multi-academy trust?
  • Are you interested in utilising the expertise of our own Research School and SCITT to enhance teacher development and recruitment in your school?
  • Are you looking for a trust that is respectful of retaining a school’s unique characteristics and autonomy, as well as being committed to collaborative working?

If the answer to the above questions is yes, then come along to our forthcoming MAT information evening on 29th September to hear more.  Click here for further details and to register a place for the event and here to find out more about DMAT.

Deep Dive Days 2022-23: Booking Open!

Next year the Durrington Research School will be offering a range of one-day workshops on EEF guidance reports and evidence reviews.  You can now book your place here.

Posted in General Teaching | Leave a comment

Resetting Expectations

A dramatic shift in the approach to teaching occurred as a result of the recent pandemic. Now that we have returned to a state of normality, it is a good time to reflect on ways we can reset expectations in our classrooms and ensure we are reintroducing aspects of our practice that were not possible to uphold during the pandemic. Our maths department have highlighted three areas that staff should prioritise in September including a refocus on live marking, higher and consistent expectations on book presentation and a smaller reliance on teaching from your desk.  

Understandably, we have become acclimatised to a separation between the teacher and students as a result of needing social distancing within classrooms. Many teachers, myself included, have gotten out of the habit of circulating the classroom as much as we used to. There are many reasons why not always teaching from the front has a huge benefit. For example, it may be that you have set the students on a deliberate practice task and wish to observe them working from the back of the classroom. Quietly observing without jumping in and helping them allows them to develop their own independence in the task and allows you to see what they are doing without being an obvious presence at the front. I sometimes situate myself at the back of the classrooms and set up a “help desk” where students can come and ask me for help but I am still able to see the whole classroom whilst I work with them 1:1.

Similarly, it is really important that we return to frequent live marking as this is a fantastic way of assessing the understanding of a class, and delivering instant feedback to students. One of the huge positives of socially distant teaching was that many teachers developed their use of mini whiteboards to assess understanding without necessarily having to circulate the room. It is important that we continue to develop this formative assessment strategy, as well as returning to our habit of live marking.

Another aspect we highlighted for improvement was general presentation of books. Our hope is that students will take great pride in their books and view them as personalised revision guides. This is only possible if the teacher holds the highest expectations on the class’ presentation. This is where circulating the classroom goes hand in hand with book presentation. By not situating yourself at the front of the classroom at all times, you are able to regularly check in on students’ books and give them feedback on how their work is laid out. We are also going to introduce a system where we monitor the books of every student at regular intervals and put sanctions in place if students are not meeting our presentation expectation. In turn, it will be a fantastic opportunity to praise those students who are taking huge pride in their work. We have suggested that placing books under the visualiser for the whole class to see would be a great way to model what we are looking for and give opportunities to praise individuals.

September is always a busy, but motivational month for teachers. It is a chance to reflect on your practice and refocus your priorities. The difficulty is always retaining consistency across the course of the year. Departments should prioritise allowing time in the term to do regular book checks for every student to maintain the high expectations throughout the year to ensure they become imbedded.

Zofia is a Maths Teacher and Research Associate at Durrington High School

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Weekly Round-Up: 3rd July 2022

Blog of the Week

What is the link between feedback and teaching? Tom Needham

Tom explores the important links between practice, feedback and how they fit into the teaching cycle.

Classteaching

Dispelling the Challenges of WritingFran Haynes

Fran shares some brilliant strategies to support pupils with spelling.

Research School Blog

Three blogs this week:

What have we learnt about tackling educational disadvantage?

Implementation case study:  Harbour Primary & Nursery School, East Sussex

A new Research School Director for Durrington

Other Useful Links

And finally…

DMAT is looking to grow!

We are looking to grow our trust and are interested in speaking to like-minded schools.  

  • In light of the white paper are you exploring academisation?
  • Do you want to join us and write the story for a growing multi-academy trust?
  • Are you interested in utilising the expertise of our own Research School and SCITT to enhance teacher development and recruitment in your school?
  • Are you looking for a trust that is respectful of retaining a school’s unique characteristics and autonomy, as well as being committed to collaborative working?

If the answer to the above questions is yes, then come along to our forthcoming MAT information evening on 29th September to hear more.  Click here for further details and to register a place for the event and here to find out more about DMAT.

Deep Dive Days 2022-23: Booking Open!

Next year the Durrington Research School will be offering a range of one-day workshops on EEF guidance reports and evidence reviews.  You can now book your place here.

Posted in General Teaching | Leave a comment