Principles over patch-ups. The power of focused fundamentals – featuring @TurtonSchool | Tom Sherrington

Running a school is complicated: 1000s of individuals; 100,000s of interactions every day – you just can’t control it all.  If you try to micro-manage teachers and students to the nth degree, it can be a recipe for stress and disaster.  Most people don’t do this.  However, when things are in the process of being improved (which is most of the time, let’s face it) there can still be a tendency to over-focus on the imperfections.  There are those that suggest that if you sweat the small stuff the bigger picture takes care of itself; I’ve never found that to be true; you’d have to be in a very…

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How to observe a lesson – and make a difference | Tom Sherrington

This post is based on my discussions with colleagues at Oldham College involved in Advanced Practitioner training.   The context is that the AP role is designed to support the process of improving teachers’ practice.  Their work is explicitly geared towards helping teachers to deliver great lessons and to secure improved learner outcomes based on our Teaching for Distinction programme.  In that context, the observations are not about forming judgements for an accountability process; they are about evaluating what they see in order to provide developmental feedback.

That distinction makes…

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Annoying things controlling schools still do that have no basis in evidence: | Tom Sherrington

As trailed on twitter… a short round-up of annoying things controlling schools still do that have no basis in evidence.

1. Grade individual lessons

There is no justification for this in terms of professional discourse.  It’s voodoo; a control device. No human observer can reliably maintain graded judgements over time, let alone  ensuring that this is done consistently by different people.    Nobody has the power to judge a lesson to be Outstanding and not merely Good based on student learning – it’s a delusion.  Not being rude; just saying it how it is.

At best, grading is a super-crude…

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Edugeeks and Flat-Earthers. Does engaging with research make you a better teacher? #BrewEdHackney | Tom Sherrington

Today I had the immense pleasure of attending the #BrewEd event at Hackney Pirates organised by Clare Sealy.  In planning for it, I’d decided to try doing a talk without slides for the first time.  I’ve become a bit a slave to the clicker so this was a nice change.  The title of the talk:  Does being an edugeek make you a better teacher? 

I started by talking about how, as a Headteacher, you know how good a teacher is.  I’ve written about the triangulation process here: it’s a combination of using observation, using data and taking account of informal knowledge – which includes a…

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Mode A + Mode B = Effective teaching and a rich enacted curriculum | Tom Sherrington

The slide below is one that I often use in my CPD presentations.  The percentages are revealed after some reflection time.  I’m keen to stress that, as a physics teacher, this is how I see my time is divided.  I am not recommending this particular split; I am reporting my experience of it.  Other teachers might have a different sense of it – although I do often get quite strong agreement.

I invented Mode A: Mode B as a short-hand for different elements in the teaching-mix to get across the idea that, whilst some strategies are much more likely to be effective for certain purposes, there are…

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Developing Writing. Exploring the process from YR to Y6. | Tom Sherrington

Exploring writing from YR to Y6 with Cirencester Primary School Staff

At the end of term I spent a fantastic day working with staff at Cirencester Primary School.  As part of the day, we ran an exercise to explore standards in writing  – a process I have now facilitated a few times; it is always absolutely fascinating.

Writing developing from YR to Y6… Some samples

As part of my talk earlier in the day, we discussed two of my slides designed to provoke discussion about the pace and intensity of teaching across the schools – as well as the need to plan the structure of the curriculum…

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Evidence-Informed Teaching. Here’s what you might be doing… | Tom Sherrington

In a previous post, I outlined some key ideas from research that teachers should know about: Evidence-Informed Ideas Every Teacher Should Know About.

A lot of the ideas can be found by reading some of these research summaries: Teaching and Learning Research Summaries: A collection for easy access.     You could also find further ideas in the recent Impact magazine as I describe here: Impact! Superb College of Teachers journal made me think – a lot!

So, once you’ve read, engaged and started to assimilate these ideas into something coherent, what might it all start looking like in practice?…

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