Tonight’s 15 minute forum was led by English Deputy Leader, Jo Grimwood. Jo led an EduBook Club group last year on Matthew Syed’s ‘Bounce’ and used this 15 minute forum to go through the key messages from the book, and explore the implications it has for teachers.
Natural talent is a myth – you’re not born good at something, you work hard to become better at what it is you do.
Syed was the English number 1 table tennis player for many years and competed for Great Britain in two Olympic games. He attributes his success to four key things:
- His environment and opportunities – he grew up in an area with an excellent table tennis club.
- Practicing/training with people who were much better than him.
- Having an outstanding coach.
- PRACTICE – both the quantity and quality of practice.
Here he is talking about this:
Which of Syed’s secrets to success do our students have?
- Environment – yes, as they are fortunate enough to live close to and so attend an excellent school.
- They work alongside people who were much better than them (models- teacher and student/learning from top achievers)
- Having an outstanding/expert coach – they’ve got you, their brilliant teachers to push, nudge and challenge them along the way!
- PRACTICE- do we provide them with enough opportunity to do this well, in terms of quantity and quality? This is probably the area we need to focus on the most.
What does perfect practice look like?
- The goal should always be excellence/mastery. Even if some students won’t get there, that should always be the aspiration
- It has to be purposeful and focused. As explained by Vince Lombardi in the quote above, there is no point in practicing something poorly – you’ll just get the same poor performance. We need to make sure that they are practicing with precision…because practice makes permanent.
- It has to be challenging- practicing something easy again and again has NO impact. It might make you feel good about yourself, but if there’s no struggle, there’s unlikely to be much learning.
- The best results come from those who WANT to practice and do it well.
- GROWTH MINDSET is needed- failures must be seen as part of the path to success.
Jo then finished the session by summarising some of the key things that teachers in her book group took away from the book:
- High expectations are the key- excellence is the goal. Students will (usually) live up to (or down to) our expectations of them.
- Recognise that success looks different for different students – and so celebrate the small successes with them. This requires us to get to know our students.
- We must build time in for frequent practice/repetition (and not just with the fun stuff. It’s often the difficult things that need practice). This links to this input from Andy Tharby on INSET day.
- Students have to ‘get it’ before we move on (otherwise they’ll be practicing poorly).
- In order to help students move on we have to know them really well. What is it that each student needs to practice?
- Motivation = progress = success…. and that success, then builds motivation. Build in small wins for students.
- If it’s not working, do it differently. What works for some won’t for others.
- Give students the bigger picture, but show them how each success will help them get there.
- We learn by seeing excellence from others (mixed ability groups really work).
- Growth mindset is vital – from teachers and student – they will get there (eventually).