I want to help you achieve the grades you (and I) know you are capable of; these grades are the stepping stone to your future. Even if you don’t want to study science or maths further, the grades you get now will open doors in the future.
I would preface my remarks here by saying that the basis for my observations in this article come from practice in the UK. However, conversations with colleagues in Australia, Canada and the United States suggest the same features appear in their systems.
In the UK 1988 was a decisive turning point in education history. The Education Reform Act introduced by Kenneth Baker introduced many new features to the learning and teaching landscape and has shaped development for the last thirty years.
The first and possibly most negative aspect was the introduction of the National Curriculum. This attempted to codify WHAT was to be taught to every student across their student career. It set the education direction as being primarily concerned with curriculum content.
The world, his wife and all their relations were invited to contribute to the National Curriculum and the result was an overly bloated curriculum, often lacking relevance or coherence. The mantra of the time was that the curriculum should be ‘broad and balanced’, which it was. Unfortunately everyone knew what they wanted in the curriculum, but no-one could agree what should be dropped to accommodate it!
The second great innovation was the advent of five days per school year set aside for the In Service Training of Teachers (INSET). Initially, this was a very popular innovation with teachers, as it recognised their requirement to have days of professional study, development an interaction (this was less popular with parents who had to find five extra days of childcare!).
Having previously had no statutory professional development days, school leadership teams were free to invent their own professional development programme and some were very innovative. Initially there was some funding called TVEI (Technical and Vocational Educational Initiative) designed to encourage collaborations and some schools coordinated their INSET days to enable staff to attend events in a number of schools.
Within that sentence was the major issue with INSET days. They became a stage-managed EVENT which, for the most part still holds true today. Rather than addressing issues at a fundamental cultural level, the pattern of the day fragmented around what came to be a familiar pattern. The school, apart from those staff on externally accredited external courses, would have their professional development opportunities constrained to this five day model.
The first element, usually occupying the early part of the day was an inspirational visiting speaker, the content of whose talk may, or may not have had any bearing on the development priorities of the school. The talk element meant that the teachers for the most part were passive participants in the process. Many would describe the experience of the guest speaker as seeing their favourite comedian live… intensely engaging, compelling, humorous and insightful. But the next day, they could not recall what they had heard and it certainly was not going to impact on their practice on a daily basis.
Following the talk there would be some pressing whole school based business such as the implications of new national initiatives on school processes, or some urgent training related to pupil welfare or health.
The afternoon session, when most people were soporific after a good lunch, tended to be devoted to curriculum/departmental time when rather than moving the school forward, teachers were engaged in preparing for the term starting the next day, or closing down the term just past. Important administrative work indeed, but not work designed to professionally challenge and develop teachers.
There was no PROCESS in these events, no reflection and development, little sharing of practice, good, developing or bad and no centrality of the learner in planning.
I’ve observed this as a trainer, guest speaker, school leader and departmental head across the country. The same meagre developmental diet served up repeatedly despite the lack of impact.
Given these experiences I began working on a different approach to teacher professional development. You will notice I avoid the word training from this point, as I believe training has unfortunate connotations and impacts.
Over several years I pulled a template together for a model of Continuous Professional Development that any school could adopt and adapt to suit their development purposes.
The model works irrespective of context, cultural, national or sector.
I’ve been able to condense over a decade work of development work into a coherent whole in a book to be published in March 2019.
Please contact me if you would like to know more, including some sample templates for how to implement the model to address the quality of teaching and learning in your school.
A new approach to personalised learning could be the solution to halting the increasing educational gap between under-privileged and privileged children, according to one of the country’s leading education business experts.
Personalised learning – an approach involving tailoring education to each child’s needs – should be the answer to ensuring every child fulfills their potential. But critics say it has previously done the opposite, with overburdened teachers struggling to differentiate for each and every child and disadvantaged pupils becoming trapped by low predicted grades.
Now Dan Sandhu, CEO of socially focussed learning technology company Sparx, says a new form of personalised learning can deliver the right results: “Sparx has spent 7 years working with schools to research this new approach. The impact on pupil progress, and particularly on disadvantaged pupils, has been staggering in the schools which have adopted it. Free School Meals (FSM) pupils are now making equal progress to non-FSM. As well, a recent test showed one of our schools, with nearly 50 per cent disadvantaged pupils, had the highest rate of progress in Yr 7 and 8 maths among 16 schools across their county.*”
Sparx is working with schools across Devon including many of those in the Ted Wragg Trust and Education South West, and has just started working with Westcountry Schools Trust.
Dan explained: “Together we have developed a platform – initially for maths homework – where the best of modern technology works in harmony with the essential skill of the teacher. The system carefully assesses what level a pupil is at and sets and marks bespoke homework for each student. It adapts to ensure they are being stretched and provides insights for the teachers which help them support each pupil.”
The approach, which involves pupils completing both online tasks and bookwork, is proving extremely popular with teachers and students alike. It is saving each teacher around two hours a week on admin, planning, and marking and students are more motivated and confident in the subject. One school, which had previously reported lower than 20 per cent homework completion rates, saw that figure jump to 98 per cent after introducing Sparx Maths Homework.
Dan, who was voted as one of Education Technology’s top 100 most influential leaders globally, feels confident Sparx’ rigorously tested approach can have a big impact on pupil progress across the ability range. “Our aim is to improve life opportunities for over 5 million learners by 2030. For us there are no shortcuts. We believe in supporting students for the longer term – making a real difference.”
Headteacher Stephen Farmer, whose school Cranbrook Education Campus in Exeter came top in the progress test after piloting the platform, believes it is the way forward in teaching:
“This approach to personalised learning is so much better than anything before. The live nature of it is what makes it stand out from the crowd. It adapts as the pupil uses it, making it harder or easier according to how pupils are doing. With other systems everyone gets the same questions and it doesn’t adapt to get the best out of each pupil.
“Our pupils love it. It’s really built their confidence. And the analytics side of it has been really important for the teachers. It gives them specific detailed information on how each student is doing and what they’re struggling with. We would like a Sparx for every subject!”
Teaching podcasts – UK, America or wherever you are in the world – are a great way for teachers to gather some free and fantastic teaching ideas for the classroom and for SLT to get advice and guidance from school leaders who’ve been there before them.
However, the vast library of educational podcasts available nowadays can be a little overwhelming, and as a teacher we know that you don’t have the time to trawl through the charts to find the one you want. That’s why, to save you time, we have taken a look through all of the charts and lists that are out there, and found the 12 best UK teaching podcasts you should be listening to (and have thrown in two that you won’t be able to stop laughing at for good measure!)
Teaching Podcast 1: The Edtech Podcast
Sophie Bailey’s podcast is all about improving ‘the dialogue between ed and tech through storytelling’ with the aim of having an impact to better innovation in UK schools. This dual focus means that she roams widely in both content and guests. One week you’ll hear the thoughts of Geoff Barton, the General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, the next week there’ll be an in depth explainer on the implication of Blockchain technology for learners, education providers and employers. What more could you want?
Need to know
• The length of the episodes are driven by the topic and the setting, so be warned, some of them can run for well over an hour.
• As a listener you will be given the chance to eavesdrop onto round-table discussions with some of the bigger players in education or sessions from education festivals and conferences from around the world.
• It’s often the first place you’ll hear from new teachers and entrepreneurs using technology to improve educational outcomes.
• 2018 also saw the first ever Edtech podcast festival – one to watch out for in the future.
Who should listen?
Anyone who is interested in education or technology! There is a fantastic mix of topics included in these podcasts, so they are great for everyone.
Sir Ken Robinson outlines 3 principles crucial for the human mind to flourish — and how current education culture works against them. In a funny, stirring talk he tells us how to get out of the educational “death valley” we now face, and how to nurture our youngest generations with a climate of possibility.
Do you want to study a GCSE course from home?
Studying a GCSE at a school or typical college can tie you down to a rigid, frustrating 9-5 style of learning which may not be suit you, particularly if you have a job and want to keep working as you study.
Studying from home is a flexible way of gaining a recognised qualification. You’d be able study at times that suit you – just think about how much easier studying a GCSE could be if you weren’t tied down to set hours and could still do what you want, when you want – study your course when you want to.
Integrate world-class maths teaching methods into your own teaching practice
Get an introduction to Asian maths teaching methods for primary education, with this course from Macmillan Education and University of Southampton.
On this course, you’ll examine the key features of Asian maths teaching methods in greater depth, and put them into practice in your own classroom.
You’ll discover how to create your own lesson plans based on Asian maths teaching methods.
You’ll learn how to design mathematical tasks to develop your maths teaching professionally.
You’ll understand how to integrate Asian maths teaching methods into your own teaching practice.
Improve your communication skills and confidence volunteering with young people
Engaging young people through practical STEM activities is a proven way to get young people excited about STEM subjects, a passion that may lead to further learning and greater awareness about STEM careers.
On this course you will learn how to improve your communication with young people as a volunteer. You will build your confidence in presenting and collaborating so that you’re able to carry out activities that help young people develop an enjoyment of STEM subjects.Play VideoDownload video: standard or HD
What topics will you cover?
This two-week, self-paced course will cover:
- Active listening and an introduction to questioning for learning.
- Non-verbal communication and running a room.
- Starting, delivering and finishing a practical activity with young people.
When would you like to start?
- Available nowThis course started 4 February 2019
What will you achieve?
By the end of the course, you’ll be able to…
- Demonstrate effective verbal and non-verbal communication with young people.
- Demonstrate appropriate use of presentation, collaboration and discussion techniques to inspire young people to continue with STEM subjects or STEM careers.
- Develop their confidence, skills and ability to do practical activities with young people.
Who is the course for?
This course has been created for anyone volunteering with young people in STEM. This includes STEM Ambassadors in the UK, youth volunteering group organisers, field trip educators, scout groups (and similar), outdoor pursuit centres, outreach from NGOs. You will need knowledge of STEM subjects or experience of working in a STEM environment.
To get the most out of this course, learners should complete the two courses prior to this one in the program:
Who developed the course?
The National STEM Learning Centre provides world-class professional development activities and resources to support the teaching of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects.
STEM Ambassadors are volunteers from all STEM disciplines and backgrounds including engineers, designers, architects, scientists and technicians.
Join this course
- Access to this course for 4 weeks
- Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes
- Unlimited access to this course
- Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes
- Certificate of Achievement to prove your success when you’re eligible
- Download and print your Certificate of Achievement anytime
Do you know someone who’d love this course? Tell them about it…
You can use the hashtag #FLSTEMInspiring to talk about this course on social media.
More courses you might like
Learners who joined this course have also enjoyed these courses.NATIONAL STEM LEARNING CENTREInspiring Young People In STEM: Using Feedback to ImproveLearn how to obtain and use feedback to help you improve your volunteering and STEM activities with young people.2 weeks3 hrs per weekGOLDSMITHS, UNIVERSITY OF LONDONLearn Jazz Piano: II. Improvising on Jazz StandardsExplore improvisation in jazz music and further develop your ability to improvise jazz piano.6 weeks3 hrs per weekUNIVERSITY OF LEEDSInnovation: the World’s GreatestUnderstand what innovation means and consider the history and developments of innovations that are important in our daily lives.2 weeks2 hrs per week
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If you’re looking for substitute teaching inspiration, look no further! Whether you’re a seasoned sub or a total newbie, we’ve got you covered with these 50 tips, tricks and ideas from our very own WeAreTeachers HELPLINE! and around the Web.
1. Kids getting antsy with those last awkward ten minutes? Try one of these ideas from Love, Teach.
2. Stay on task, and leave a record. “Follow the lesson plans as much as humanly possible, leave detailed notes for the teacher about what got done or didn’t get done, which students were awesome and not so awesome, and leave your number if you really enjoyed the class.” —Dawn M.
3. Need a break? Try one of these quick popsicle-stick time-fillers from Journey of a Substitute Teacher.
4. If you don’t have anything nice to say… “Be pleasant in the faculty room if you eat there. Never say anything negative about the school, teachers, or students.” —Donna N.
5. Kids won’t stop texting? Put their phone in cell phone jail for the period.
Image from Buzzfeed
6. Dress in layers. “Some rooms are freezing and some are hotter than heck!” —Edith I.
7. Don’t be afraid to be picky. “I have a list of teachers I won’t sub for because no matter what, they always seem to have ‘that’ class. In other words, not very good behavior management which means subbing for them is a nightmare.” —Eric D.
8. Subbing for second? Here are some quick and free emergency substitute activity ideas from Second Grade Locker Room.
9. We love these classroom management tips especially for substitutes from The Cornerstone.
10. Bring your own supplies, either in a backpack…
Students are most affected by the quality of their teachers. Not only do they interact with teachers every day in the classroom, but the quality of that interaction matters for our students’ future. In fact, Stanford University economist Eric Hanushek has noted that the difference between a good and a bad teacher can be a full level of student achievement in a single school year. But students are rarely asked what they think makes a great teacher.
So, we asked. Pearson surveyed students ages 15-19 across the U.S. about what they thought made an effective teacher. Their responses highlight just how important a student-focused approach is to the learning experience. The top five qualities of a great teacher, according to students, are:
1. The ability to develop relationships with their students
The most frequent response is that a great teacher develops relationships with students. The research literature agrees with them: Teachers need to be able to build trusting relationships with students in order to create a safe, positive, and productive learning environment. For example, a student in Boston told us that great teachers are “Willing to listen to students when there is a problem.”
2. Patient, caring, and kind personality
Personality characteristics related to being a compassionate person and having a sensitivity to student differences, particularly with learners, was the second most frequently reported quality. Again, there is research to support that teacher dispositions are strongly related to student learning and development.
3. Knowledge of learners
This is a broad category that incorporates knowledge of the cognitive, social and emotional development of learners. It includes an understanding of how students learn at a given developmental level; how learning in a specific subject area typically progresses like learning progressions or trajectories; awareness that learners have individual needs and abilities; and an understanding that instruction should be tailored to meet each learner’s needs. One student eloquently described it as: “The teacher understands the pace and capacity of the student.”
4. Dedication to teaching
Dedication refers to a love of teaching or passion for the work, which includes commitment to students’ success. Responses often referred to loving the subject matter or simply being dedicated to the work. To a student, this means a teacher should be “always willing to help and give time.”