top of page
  • Writer's pictureAndy Hind

A recent teaching blog - Are you wasting time?

Updated: Jul 13, 2023

Perhaps the more important question should be ...... Are you wasting your pupils' time?

Over the past decades, in their desire to improve learning for every child, schools and individual teachers have changed the way that teaching and learning occurs in classrooms. On a regular basis, new initiatives are introduced into the professional practice of teachers, across the country, because of the urgency to raise standards. These classroom interventions, which may have been seen on a training course, or at a conference, or may have been introduced as a result of visiting another school, are adopted with willingness and enthusiasm, by teams of passionate and conscientious professionals. But are they making a difference and how do you know?

Ability groupings, working walls, VCOP, learning outcomes, AFL, BLP, reduced class sizes, thinking skills and 1-to-1 tuition are just a few examples of the many interventions that have found their way into our education system over the past decades. But which have little or no impact with regard to raising standards, which have an average impact and which make a significant difference? For many schools, the answer might be unknown, mainly due to a lack of time given to deeper professional analysis or practitioner inquiry. If a school notices a significant improvement in pupil learning, are they able to pinpoint which intervention has had the most significant impact on this improvement?

Simply adopting a set of teaching principles or strategies is not sufficient as what works in one school might not have the same impact in another. Context is everything.

It would be fair to assume that almost every intervention will have some form of positive impact on pupil learning, but a school, and every individual teacher, should be seeking out those interventions that have an impact 'greater than average'. If a school is to ensure it is offering the very best education to every child, a professional culture of action, reflection, analysis and learning must exist, in which teachers, in professional learning communities, search for and analyse evidence of impact. It must start with this mindset of analysis, with teachers seeing themselves as evaluators of their own actions, efforts and effects on learning.

The challenge, for any school and individual teacher, is to spend more classroom time on those interventions that really do have a significant effect on improving learning and less on those that do not. Professional development time should be allocated to engaging all staff in meaningful, professional analysis of classroom interventions and then to helping them in mastering those interventions that make a real difference. The outstanding school is vigilant to what is working and what is not working in every classroom and each teacher is continually vigilant to the consequences of their actions.

To what extent do you and your colleagues treat teaching as a 'forensic inquiry'?

How do you and your colleagues deconstruct and reconstruct your classroom practice with a sharp focus on continuous improvement?

A mindset for inquiry

Practitioner inquiry is characterised by the systematic study of practice. It is about teachers’ work and teachers themselves as a basis of research, helping them develop themselves, therefore the practitioner has ownership of their research. Successful inquiry is not just about finding the answer to a question but will deepen understanding by surfacing new questions and ultimately improve learning and teaching. This approach towards continual professional development is a step in a process that begins with reflection and leads to action-based research or as a trigger to further development through reflection or action research. In both cases, the most important feature is that the question generated arises from practice.

Self-evaluation and reflective practice about teaching are fundamental elements of practitioner inquiry if it is to impact practice and, ultimately, learners’ experiences. At its most effective, practitioner inquiry will be an integral aspect of a teacher's day-to-day practice but it does require a different mindset when considering continual professional development.

Being an authentically inquiring professional is not simply about teachers and teaching assistants learning the research skills, techniques and methods of inquiry and conducting inquiries into practice regularly. Instead, it is much more about developing the knowledge, skills, dispositions and understanding required to become the kind of professionals who can question, challenge, understand and know deeply about teaching and learning.

It can and should be a challenging journey. It can and should reveal what Mockler and Groundwater-Smith (2015) call ‘unwelcome’ and often uncomfortable truths about what is actually happening e.g. during the learning and teaching process and through this process extend our knowledge and confidence in our practice. This has important implications for the design of an inquiry.

These implications go deep into the professional culture of the school, the depth of social capital that exists within and across teams and the allocation of time and resources.

As we move towards 2023/2024, how will you and your colleagues look to further embed a professional culture built around deep, transformative professional thinking and learning?

27 views1 comment

1 commentaire

kurl jakson999
kurl jakson999
23 août 2023

Thanks to constantly developing technologies, it is possible to optimize the learning process and make it more convenient and understandable for students. For example, you can do video lessons, with the disclosure of the topic, add pointers and hints to simplify the understanding of the child. Here you can pick up applications that will help in creating your lessons

bottom of page