Teaching is changing… and it is for the better!
There has been a large shift in thinking in teaching, which has been solidified by the ‘Teacher Workload Reduction Toolkit‘. This paradigm shift is slowly cascading down all tiers of schools. It will continue to do so until this is the profession that we all hope it will be and think it should be.
A renewed focus is putting teacher welfare and wellbeing at the centre of the debate. This is as it should be and how it has been in the best schools for some time now.
At my school, Rushey Mead Academy, there is a big focus on ‘High Impact, Low Effort’ strategies and foci. They were really proactive in taking a stance against unnecessary paperwork, administration and bureaucracy.
Here are a number of examples of how teaching is changing and things that happen at my school (a many of these happen at lots of schools in our partnership, as well):
– We do not complete written lessons plans. This is not to say that we don’t plan, but simply that we do not need to complete a 3-page document to prove this. It can take any form that works for you. Personally, I use my ipad and a piece of software called iDoceo. This allows me to have everything I need at my fingertips – data, assessment, lesson plans, resources, register, tools for selecting students and recording answers.
– Schemes of work are provided for each module, with individual lesson plans written. You are welcome to utilise these and adapt to meet the needs of your students.
– Each faculty has the technology and resources needed for the teachers to deliver powerful and effective lessons. In PE, we have 2 trolleys of laptops, a trolley of ipads, Sports Science Lab, Fitness Suite, Dance Studio, fantastic double Sports Hall, MUGAs and fields. In addition, we have other areas that can be utilised, as and when needed (hall with retractable seating, Drama Studio etc).
– 9 days a year, the school closes at 2pm. Then teachers gather in subject teams to plan upcoming lessons collaboratively as well as to refine and develop existing schemes of work. This is designed to allow all faculties the time to work on professional development, group planning and any area that will directly impact on our ability to deliver the great lessons that our students deserve.
-Marking is a major concern in terms of workload for teachers. At my school, SLT clearly understands the difference between marking and feedback. Whole-class feedback is encouraged as explained by Jo Facer, on her blog.
– Guidance from the top down to ensure all teachers are able to deliver great quality lessons, irrespective of your experience. The school provides a framework for the delivery of lessons, which allows anyone new to the school to engage with the schemes of work and deliver high-quality lessons. This is flexible and teachers have the freedom to adapt or move away from this as and when they have the experience or no longer feel this is needed.
– The phrase ‘High Impact, Low Effort‘ has become a bit of a mantra at the school and all efforts are directed towards these types of activities. By encouraging the teachers to reflect on the activities they undertake and focus on those that have the required impact, we can root out any unnecessary tasks and try to ensure that teaching is changing from the inside.
– Professional Learning (PL) has evolved into what it should be – being better at what we do, working smarter but not harder. We have had multiple high-quality PL sessions with great facilitators, such as Tom Sherrington, author of The Learning Rainforest (@teacherhead), who educated us on teaching practices to deliberately practice and those low impact strategies that should be stopped. A link to Tom’s articles around teaching activities to deliberately practice and those to stop can be found here:
All of these experiences remind me of why I became a teacher, to help the students. The paradigm shift will take some time to really take root and to filter down to all schools, but I am hopeful that we can do this. Teaching can be what it should be and can be, but we need brave schools and SLT teams ready to back the teachers and make the brave calls. Teaching is changing, my school is leading the charge and I hope yours follows soon…
If you want to find out more about the Leicestershire Secondary SCITT and how we train and support excellent teachers, click here. Alternatively, read our post on what you need to know before training as a teacher