10 Things All Teachers Should Do To Focus Their Efforts

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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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Where should teachers focus their time and effort?

I’ve been reading up on educational research and updating Mark Plan Teach 2.0 for publication. Here are ten things all teachers should try across any academic year…

1. Be explicit about the learning outcomes and keywords that form the foundations of your lesson through a combination of direct instruction self-regulated feedback and ‘nudge theory’.

2. Apply modelling strategies, such as reciprocal teaching, think-pair-share and I do, we do, you do to help students develop their skills in literacy and numeracy.

3. Have the courage to go with the flow of learning instead of following lesson plans to the letter. This must be supported by a whole-school culture that allows teachers to make mistakes and learn from them.

4. Make sure you have a secure grasp of how memory works and how students learn and retain information. Use this to develop a simple, evidence-based teaching and learning policy to achieve ‘collective teacher efficacy’, reduce workload and maximise student progress across your school.

5. Use the question matrix to plan the questions you want to ask your students and how you will frame them in order to check incisively, systematically and effectively that learning has stuck. This will enable you to provide feedback and pinpoint any knowledge and skills you may need to re-teach.

6. Adopt the seven traits of an effective teacher to help improve the impact of your teaching, so you can change lives, benefit the local community and contribute to social mobility.

7. Think deeply about how you can secure Barak Rosenshine’s principles of effective instruction in your practice. Take the time to consider priorities for your own professional development and how you could increase your impact in the classroom.

8. Improve lesson observations in your school by training observers using my four-step process. This will improve the reliability of observations, reduce observational bias and develop an open-door culture. The end result is a happy, confident teaching team who feel supported to develop.

9. Prioritise collaboration. Embed collaborative learning strategies, such as back to back (b2b), into your classroom to increase engagement in your lessons and create an inclusive learning environment.

As a department or whole school, develop the right conditions for teachers to work collaboratively in order to improve practice and ensure CPD goes beyond the functional.

10. Establish a system of coaching in your school to support the professional development of all staff and improve teaching and learning in every classroom.

I know for a fact that every teacher in every school wants to be better, but I also know that continuing professional development (CPD) can be a pretty gloomy and frustrating prospect in many schools. I hope this helps…

Bonus: If you’re struggling with online teaching during COVID, here are some ideas…

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