Learning from our most successful teams

Today’s INSET day had a very clear focus – ‘Getting better at getting better’.  The quotes above were shared, because they summarise what it means to be a teacher at Durrington:

  • Regardless of our experience, we are all committed to getting better at our job – as teachers and as leaders.
  • We use evidence from research to make sure we are focusing our time and effort on what is most likely to improve learning.
  • We do all of this because our students deserve no less.

In order to support our ongoing improvement as a school, we turned to our most successful curriculum teams and considered what is it about these teams that make them so successful?  The following seemed to be common features.

  • Through strong leadership they have a sense of belief and pride that they can be world class.  This manifests itself in a clear vision for the future and a moral duty to provide the best possible educational experience for our students.
  • They have the highest expectations and standards, in terms of what they expect from all aspects of their work.
  • There is a strong sense of collaboration.  They want to learn from each other and there is a strong sense of everybody moving in the same direction.  This is most evident in how these teams approach their fortnightly ‘Subject Planning & Development Sessions’ (SPDS)
  • The leaders of these teams are not afraid to be candid with team members.  When something is not as it should be, they will have a conversation with the colleague, but most importantly, support them to address the issue.  Time is not wasted either not addressing the issue, or giving a mixed message!
  • There is a collective responsibility to be the best, driven by a sense of moral purpose – a good education opens doors for students, so let’s make sure we give them every opportunity to get one.
  • They look after each other.  If somebody is struggling, this will not go unnoticed and help will be at hand.
  • They talk about teaching and how to get better at it…a lot!  Again, this is why they use SPDS so well.
  • They monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of their CPD (SPDS).  They don’t just hope that it is making a difference, but look to see if what they are discussing and sharing as a group of teachers, is making a difference to student learning.
  • They are outward looking.  So, they will look at other high performing teams in their subject, as well as the research evidence and use this to inform their practice.  However, they are selective with this.  They don’t simply try to implement everything.  Instead they think about what is most likely to have the biggest impact in their context and then implement this.
  • They implement carefully. More on this here.
  • They analyse and evaluate their performance forensically (assessments, student work, exam results etc) and use this to identify specific and focused improvement points.  They know what needs to improve.
  • They don’t try to improve everything.  They have a small number of improvement points (based on where they think there will be most gains) and are then relentless in terms of their focus on this e.g. improve the long term memory of students.
  • Having identified improvement points these are then translated into classroom actions (informed by evidence), that teachers need to implement on a day to day basis e.g. improve the long term memory of students, using retrieval practice questions at the start of every lesson.
  • Having agreed on these actions, they then ensure that they are implemented with fidelity across the team – with feedback given when this is not the case.

There are many other things that contribute to the success of these teams, but these features seemed to be key.

We then went on to discuss two of our teaching and learning foci for this year, metacognition and explicit vocabulary instruction, and  how we will be using ‘disciplined inquiry’ to implement these in the classroom.  This involved teachers thinking about these key questions:

  • What’s the problem I’m trying to solve?
  • What does the research evidence say about this?
  • What am I going to do differently in my lessons?
  • How will I monitor my progress?
  • Who’s my critical friend/s?
  • How will I share my success/challenges?
  • How will I evaluate impact?
  • What’s my inquiry question?

Here’s to a great 2018-19.

Posted by Shaun Allison

This entry was posted in CPD Events, General Teaching and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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