Teacher Training Conference – Teach Smarter Not Harder

Teach Smarter Not Harder Conference 2020

Teaching is an incredible profession, but it is always changing. So how do we make sure that we ‘Teach Smarter, not Harder’…?

We are passionate about teaching, about research, about changing lives. But, changing the lives of children should not come at the expense of the teachers, and so we are constantly looking at ways to do the job better, to train teachers to do what is effective and proven by research, rather than just doing what has always been done.

We read up on the latest pedagogical research, create our own courses – our Deputy Director, Ashley Bartlett, has written a course about Cognitive Science in the classroom. This is delivered to our trainees but also mentors, ITT Coordinators and teachers. We love learning and helping others to learn, so why stop at our trainees…?

ResearchED has created such a wonderful movement with a focus on research informed teaching.  Along with BrewEd, LitdriveUK, EduTwitter, Teachertapp and so much more, there is a real focus on driving our profession forwards, learning from others and really focusing on what works.

Now, as it stands, there is no ResearchED near Leicester (watch this space…), so we created our own conference that will offer something towards the development of teachers within the city and county. And so, we welcomed “Teach Smarter, Not Harder’ – our annual conference to offer out to trainees, alumni, mentors, partner schools and more. A way for us to give even more back.

Teach Smarter Not Harder 2019

In 2019, we had our first conference delivered by the brilliant Tom Sherrington (@teacherhead). We focused on Research informed teaching and ‘10 teaching techniques to deliberately practice.’ Link to Tom’s original post – HERE

1 – Developing routine knowledge recall procedures
2 – All student response: using mini whiteboards really well
3 – Questioning techniques
4 – Think, pair, share
5 – Metacognition and modelling
6 – Whole class feedback instead of marking
7 – Critique method feedback
8 – Deliberate vocab development
9 – Embedded tiering
10 – Third time for excellence


So much value in a short space of time. Are we focusing on the right things? Do we ask three students and assume that means everyone knows, or could we actually ask all students? Are we focusing on long term development and learning, utilising cognitive science and metacognitive strategies to maximise retention and ability to retrieve the information? If not, why not…

Teach Smarter Not Harder 2020

In February we welcomed Tom Bennett, the DfE’s behaviour Tsar to help us understand how to create the right sculpture in our classrooms and deal with behaviour. Most people misunderstand behaviour, assuming it refers to dealing with a student that does not do what you want and reactively addressing undesired behaviour, but it is so much more than that. If we spend time teaching the desired behaviours and helping the students to understand how to behave in class, then they are equipped with the knowledge to be successful. Without that information, how can we expect them to integrate into the class. Then, we need to consider how we support students that this approach may not work effectively for. Crafting an inclusive environment that offers the space, time and focus for people to learn and be successful.

No single strategy will work for all students, but if we can create a positive environment and then look to adapt this to meet the needs of the students, we have a good foundation for success.

On our course our trainees learn about how we learn and the effective ways to teach so that this takes place:

– Metacognition
– Spaced Practice
– Retrieval Practice
– Cognitive Load Theory
– Schema Theory
– Direct Instruction
– Forgetting Curve
– Dual Coding
– Interleaving

And so much more…

Why do we do this?

Why do we do this? Because we want our trainees and the teachers working in our schools to be the best they can be. This doesn’t stop at the end of you teacher training year. This conference adds another layer on top of this. So many positive changes taking place, exciting developments in understanding how we learn, that we can really make a difference. Gone are the days of having years of trial and error to see which strategies work. We can now teach the research informed pedagogy that allow teachers to leave a lasting impact on students, their learning and to help craft a great future for them.

It’s a great time to be a teacher…

If you want to know more about why we teach, click here – WHY TEACH


To follow Tom Bennet on Twitter, here is a link (@tombennett71). Tom Sherrington can be found on twitter by the handle @Teacherhead