Curriculum Building: Every step matters; know your place; make it count. | Tom Sherrington

Image: Beirut Terraces / Herzog & de Meuron  

In the last few weeks I’ve had a lot of conversations with teachers and leaders in schools in challenging circumstances at both primary and secondary.  A common experience has been the difficult process of trying to build a coherent curriculum in a context of staff turbulence, curriculum reform and recruitment challenges. I’ve also worked with maths and English teachers in FE who are essentially picking up the pieces after years of things not working out for their students.

Even when things are going in your favour in a stable school with…

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School walls are oozing with unhelpful growth mindset cheese…. | Tom Sherrington

google search:  motivational growth mindset posters. If you walk around a lot of schools these days and absorb the MESSAGE that emanates from the walls, you are likely to find yourself saturated by an oozing motivational cheeze-fest. (That’s a typo but it seems appropriate to keep it.).
FAIL: first attempt in learning
Don’t give up until you are proud. 
I can’t do this…. YET! = Perseverance
Instead of ‘I messed up’ say ‘mistakes make me learn’. 
Hard work + Dreams + Dedication = Success. 

Get these slogans blown up and laminated and plaster your corridors and walls in them… Bingo! Go…

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School Houses: Joyous eccentricity, tradition, culture… and the rest. | Tom Sherrington

Last week I was stuck on a train. I’d been to a school which has some great house names and, as I reflected on my own experience of  house systems in various schools, I put out a casual tweet.  Normally you get a few responses – a bit of passing interest – but the responses to this was huge.  Over 1000 twitter replies.   You can see the whole thread here – although this doesn’t include all those who quote-tweeted their responses.  I started off by engaging with all the replies but soon gave up.

Hello Twitter. Please RT and reply with the names of your school’s houses and their overall…

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‘Research Says’ Fruit Machine: A staff-room game. | Tom Sherrington

Here is a game to help develop your colleagues’ research literacy.
Can you spot the bogus study?
Can you generate a plausible cause-effect rationale?

Ask someone to give you three numbers between 1 and 15.  Using the handy table, you then construct the sentence beginning with ‘Apparently, research says that’

For example: You get 2, 6, 11.

This generates:  Apparently, research says that boys get better GCSES by reciting ‘If’ every week during registration.

10, 4, 5 generates: Apparently, research says that Headteachers become more intolerant by attending catch-up intervention clinics…

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A common lesson format. A structure, not a straitjacket. | Tom Sherrington

In my previous school we devised a common format for lessons through staff discussion. The aim was to support the process of embedding certain behaviour routines and expectations and, perhaps more crucially, some pedagogical practices.  This week a Headteacher told me they had borrowed the idea so I thought I would share it again.  This time I have updated it with reference to retrieval practice and made it generic for any school.

It’s not a straitjacket – you could teach in all kinds of ways within the structure. There is almost nothing you couldn’t do.  But a common format, agreed by…

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5 Teaching Fundamentals | Tom Sherrington

Originally, this was set to be  five-post series, but the first two didn’t seem to bite – so I’m making things easier (better) by putting it all into one post.

The five teaching fundamentals are aspects of effective teaching that I think are absolutely essential but are often things that I find I need to suggest as areas for development. The five fundamentals are:
Checking for recall and understanding
Being precise about what you want to be learned
Modelling multiple examples.
Specifying the outputs and timescales.
Making time for practice.

1. Checking for recall and understanding…

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Priority One: Improving the Quality of Teaching.  | Tom Sherrington

The dominant issue in delivering a great education to all young people in a school or college is to ensure that they are being taught well, by someone with the confidence, knowledge and skills required, relevant to the school/college context, in every lesson.  Recruiting, retaining and developing great teachers should be a total frontline priority.  It already is for Headteachers; I’m less sure about governments.

Imagine that the quality of teaching is a product of three factors: Q=XYZ.
X= Professional knowledge: Subject knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge
Y = Personal qualities –…

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