Great Teaching – Great Teachers

great teacher quote We spend a great deal of time talking about great teaching at DHS – not outstanding or good teaching, but great teaching. It’s a regular topic of conversation between Andy Tharby and me.  We’ve come to the following conclusions:

  • There’s no prescribed ‘right’ way of teaching.
  • If it gets the right outcomes for the students, then it ‘works’.
  • There’s a great deal to be learnt from those teachers who have truly mastered the craft of the classroom, such as Mr Clarke & Pam McCulloch.
  • There’s a large number of myths around, about what works.
  • It’s worth combining the wisdom of these great teachers with the research evidence base about what makes great teaching.
  • From this wisdom and evidence, there appears to be some firm pedagogical principles that appear to contribute to great teaching.  We’ve summarised them here:

expert pub We’ve then tried to come up with prompts for each of these pedagogical principles to encourage teachers to reflect on and refine their practice.  It’s worth stressing that this is not a checklist – it’s too long for that and teachers would struggle to do everything in one lesson!  Instead they have two aims.  Firstly, they explain what we think is important about each of the six principles.  Secondly, to support teachers. So if a teacher wants to develop an aspect of their practice e.g. explanation, they could use the ‘explanation’ prompts to support their own self reflection. Here they are:

6challenge 6explanation 6modelling 6practice 6questioning 6feedback So, 6 simple principles that teachers are encouraged to translate into their own classroom practice – a ‘tight but loose’ approach to teaching – that’s what we’re aiming for.  We would be interested to know if you think we’ve missed anything in these prompt questions?  If there is, please let us know via the comments box on this blog or via twitter.

In 2015, Andy and I are going to examine this idea of ‘great teaching’ further.  We plan to work alongside the most effective teachers in our school (based on examination results over recent years) and find out what it is they do, day in, day out – via interviews and observations.  The findings will contribute to our understanding of what makes great teaching and will be shared widely.  If you’d like to get involved in this ‘Expert Teacher Project’ at your school and so contribute to our overall findings, please contact us:

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14 Responses to Great Teaching – Great Teachers

  1. I look forward to reading further posts about this initiative. I am interested to know why you are only going to speak to teachers with excellent exam results.

    • Teachers do many great things but ultimately (at secondary level) we want students to leave with the best set of exam results possible – to give them more life chances. That’s what great teachers do.

  2. bt0558 says:

    I thought this post was a really constructive summary and I love the graphic with the 6 rows. This could be something to do with the fact that you ideas resonate very closely with my plans for teaching starting tomorrow.

    I was a little daunted by the 43 (I think I counted correctly) bullets which for me were a little overpresciptive, especially given the statement “There’s no prescribed ‘right’ way of teaching.” at the start. I think there are a few questionable value judgements in the detail (AKA the devil) as so were actually about “ways of teaching”.

    Having said that, I think your ability to go through the whole thing without using the words Direct, Traditional, Progressive and cognitive load is to be admired. You come across as an eclectic sort of a teacher which again is for me one of the keys to good practice.

    I will watch this one as it develops. Are you happy for me to use the graphic as it is shown here with my students with the copyright information there. I will make it clear that you are the source.

    Thank you in anticipation

    • Thanks for the response – happy to share. So feel free to use. It’s not meant as a checklist and I wouldn’t want teachers using it as such – not feasible to do everything, every lesson. But if you are looking to develop an aspect of your practice e.g. explanation, the questions for explanation would be worth looking at to support self-reflection. That’s the idea.

  3. Pingback: Great Teaching – Great Teachers | Class Teaching | eladata

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