In his book, Why Knowledge Matters, ED Hirsch Jr. writes that:

Teacher effectiveness is contextual

At first sight this seems completely common sensical and, indeed it is in theory. It is just in practice where too many involved in education undermine this simple adage. Hirsch gores on to say:

We are blaming teachers because of our disappointments with the results of our reforms.

How many times do we hear that we have the best generation of teachers ever as yet another round of top down management or governmentally driven accountability measures undermine that very concept?

Hirsch sees that the disappointing results of reforms is more likely to be structural in nature rather than down to the characteristics and proclivities of teachers. He puts this in the following way:

Educational success is defined by what students learn – the received curriculum.

Hirsch sees that the fundamental problem with the curriculum is…

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to learn is to follow

In my last blog I spoke about the ‘Golden Mean’. This is the Aristotelian principle that what is virtuous is always between two states: one of absolute excess, the other of absolute deficiency. I suggested that this could be quite a helpful way of thinking of teaching and curriculum design. I said that over the next few posts I would try and explain how this insight has informed my thinking on teaching and assessment in KS3 history. Here are three questions that came to mind:

  1. How do I strike the right balance between the sample (the end of unit test) and the domain (in this case, the period of history in question)?
  2. How do I help my pupils remember what they need to remember for the assessment, as well as helping them to remember what I think is just important for them to remember?
  3. And how do I guide them…

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This comic strip summarises the key areas of the period of détente during the Cold War between 1963 and 1979.

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For once I’m quite laid back about something. Whilst it’s not ideal situation to not have specifications approved for teaching in September, I can’t help thinking that whinging about it is a wasted effort and it is possible to spend that effort doing preparation work using the DfE content or even the draft specs.

Some people are indeed spending time planning and with one approved spec many have plumped for that board just because it has been approved.

However, within the online community and colleagues I have spoken to, very few are taking this opportunity to really think about learning and how they might design the course to incorporate research on memory and learning. This is a great time to start afresh and think differently about schemes of learning and topic organisation.

So if people aren’t planning for learning, what are they planning for?

I’ve heard the following reasons at…

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Followers of the blog may remember last year I asked for a bit of help in forming our new Teaching, Learning and Assessment Policy.  I’ve deliberately swapped the place of assessment around in the title to emphasis it’s pivotal point between tweaching and learning.  As we all know; just because I’ve taught it doesn’t necessarily mean the pupils have learnt it.

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1. Ben Riley: ‘Learning as a Science’

An incredibly useful and informative talk on the research around how students learn best from one of the Deans for Impact who are “a group of deans from schools of education around the country, that have united to make sure future teachers are armed with information about what works in the classroom as they begin their careers.”

2.  Harvard EdCast: The Great Teacher Checklist

Podcast from the Harvard Graduate School of Education asking “How do you effectively measure teacher effectiveness?” Interesting conversation on triangulating data to create a broader, more in-depth picture of the impact a teacher is having beyond test scores.

3. This American Life: How to Talk to Kids

One of the best podcasts around. This episode features stories of adults taking very different approaches to communicating with children with some very funny kids saying what particularly annoys them about how they are spoken…

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Source: The #5MinMarkingPlan by @TeacherToolkit and @LeadingLearner