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:
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:
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: