Teaching Trends and Predictions for 2020

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Teaching Trends


Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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What will be the teaching trends (not fads) for the year ahead?

Social media is a microcosm of the teaching community, sometimes far removed from the reality of work within our schools, yet one which is equally ahead of the bell-curve.

What will we see in schools throughout 2020?

Beyond the ‘social media-bubble’, I’m blessed with the opportunity to visit schools across the country, and as a result, influence how I envisage the year ahead. In my doctoral research, I have been studying teacher agency and teachers’ use of social media, unpicking education trends over the years. I’ve also been writing blogs advocating a mixture of good ideas to consider and other concepts which need abolishing, occasionally labelled as ‘fads or gimmicks’. In this post, beyond the logistics of schools themselves (For example, government decisions), I would like to make a prediction of the things you are most likely to see happening in your school or ‘the school down the road’.

1. Weekly, Professional Development

I predict more schools will abolish the traditional five-day model for INSET and disaggregate those days into CPD which is spaced and interleaving. Whether these sessions are for 15 minutes per week or for an hour and a half after school, the challenge is: Can your school inform parents now about new timetabling proposals for September? And is your school leadership good enough to reconstruct its timetable to make this happen? If it’s good enough for pupils and their retrieval from long-term memory, my goodness, it’s got to be good for teachers and their professional practice.

2. Coaching

Learning walks and lesson gradings will become a thing of the past and in its place, schools will start to facilitate professional conversations about teaching. I suspect this will require a longer-term shift, and eventually, the default model for lesson observations. Learning walks in their current guise will be largely abolished as schools adopt a more triangulated, ‘lesson study‘ approach to teaching, learning through professional conversation with a micro-focus on teaching vignettes.

3. Research-Informed Appraisal

To support teacher development and to tackle recruitment and workload from within, schools will reform (target) performance-related pay and replace this with a (question) research-informed process. Headteacher aside (because it is currently statutory), schools will facilitate opportunities for teachers to become research engaged, adopting a critical approach from within the classroom, and as a result, raise the profile of action research within the academic community. I have outlined how schools can achieve this in the research-led practice section of Just Great Teaching.

4. Deep Dives

Whether we agree with it or not, or more importantly, is your school using the correct methodology is a more crucial question, the term ‘deep dive’ is here to stay for the foreseeable future. My hope is that all school leaders and inspectors who are conducting these processes, do so sitting beside the student or teacher with an agreed focus in advance (before the activity actually happens), rather than leaving conversations and concrete answers to assumption. Read more about why I think this is important…

Teacher Workload Influences
Termly data (face-to-face and online surveys) on teacher workload. (Data range Sept. 2017 to Feb. 2020)

5. Mental Health

Finally, as more and more schools start to raise the profile of mental health, they will facilitate opportunities for teachers to talk about workload and wellbeing, offering specialist care from external agencies as part of their CPD and HR processes, including doing the simple things in a more substantial and sustained way – for example, good coffee and a warm staff room – and begin to offer genuine opportunities for wellbeing and flexible workload; those schools who maintain the traditional forms of leadership will begin to isolate themselves and wonder why they are struggling to recruit or retain teachers.

This also includes actively promoting the positive CPD work the school is doing to lure other teachers on social media, improve admissions and their profile with the public. These proposals are based on my research, what I observe online and what I see happening on the ground.

If some of these concepts are alien to you, I would be bold to say that your school is lagging behind others in terms of its pedagogical approaches and the support it offers to its teachers…


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