From idea to implementation, how can school leaders transform the culture of teaching and learning?
One of the most eye-opening experiences of working with thousands of teachers is the nuance between classrooms within one school.
Coherence, not compliance
On my travels, it is clear that our English schools face unique challenges compared to other jurisdictions.
To avoid unnecessary attrition, it is essential that coherence is communicated rather than compliance.
However, this is not easy to achieve in some schools.
In this post, with an exclusive focus on ‘teaching and learning’, I’ve summarised where I believe most schools are currently focusing their time and classroom practice on, and how they go about implementing the idea:
- Memory and developing critical thinking
- Research papers E.g. Rosenshine (17 principles), Sweller (cognitive load theory)
- Dual coding and retrieval practice
- Effective questioning strategies
- School policies that drive teacher development from observation; plus coaching
Whole-school implementation …
The research on whole-school implementation (science) suggests transforming organisational cultures takes at least 2-4 years. Therefore, transforming a school’s teaching and learning culture requires a clear vision and effective implementation strategies.
Here are some key steps that school leaders can take to achieve long-term change:
- Develop a shared vision: School leaders need to work with their staff to develop a shared vision of effective teaching and learning in their school. This should involve creating a set of core values and principles that guide classroom practice. It should not be a one-off event!
- Focus on coherence, not compliance: To achieve a shared vision, school leaders need to focus on coherence rather than compliance. This means creating a culture of collaboration and support where teachers feel empowered to try new approaches and share best practices.
- Prioritise behaviour management: School leaders need to create a positive and supportive learning environment before teaching and learning can happen successfully. This means prioritising behaviour management strategies and providing teachers with the support they need to effectively manage their classrooms.
- Provide ongoing professional development: Effective teaching and learning require ongoing professional development. School leaders must provide their staff with opportunities to learn and grow through formal training and informal sharing of best practices. Many are moving away from one-off INSET days.
- Embrace research-based approaches: School leaders should embrace research-based approaches to teaching and learning. This means staying up-to-date with the latest research on cognitive science and determining how these findings translate into classroom practice.
- Develop effective policies: School leaders must develop effective policies supporting teaching and learning. This includes policies around observation and coaching and policies that support ongoing professional development.
- Implement a 30-day plan: To turn these ideas into action, school leaders should develop an action plan that outlines specific steps for transforming the culture of teaching and learning in their school. This plan should be shared with all staff and regularly reviewed to ensure progress is being made.
Resources to help
- All schools must start with behaviour before teaching and learning.
- Here is a starting point if you need a teaching and learning template.
- This resource provides school leaders with how to get started.
- How to avoid common problems I see in schools.
- There are 15 teaching and policy ideas for you to consider.
- There is a deeper set of ideas and resources collated in one place.
- A 30-day implementation plan.
- An action plan template.
Schools can create brilliant learning environments by developing a shared vision, prioritising behaviour management, providing ongoing professional development, embracing research-based approaches, and implementing a clear plan!