Notes from todays Focus Education Conference
First of all, let me thanks Clive Davies OBE who through some amusing anecdotes and excellent presenting skills meant the day flew by and made my brain hurt with the many questions he made me ask myself about our curriculum in school (as well as many other questions).
To begin with we looked at the 7 myths of teaching.
1. Using praise with lower attaining pupils
- Over nurturing with lower ability children has led to them being too dependent on adults in the classroom for help and nurturing. TA's must not sit with the same group of children being called, "Luv, sweetheat, darling" when they get something wrong or will not take part in the learning. This stifles learning and leads to low aspirations. We need to raise the confidence of these children but we have to do it truthfully and tell the children that they do need to improve and they need to work harder because they are not where they should be. Their parents also need to be very clear about this too. Don't give feedback just to keep them happy.
2. Allowing learners to discover key ideas by themselves.
- Although Clive says this has been discredited recently, I am a firm believer that once children have been taught the necessary skills to become independent and group learners they are able to understand how to discover learning for themselves. But do we mean discover knowledge or discover learning because there is a difference.
3. Grouping pupils by ability
- Hugely discredited and schools are being encouraged to seriously rethink grouping by ability because of the 'mastery' curriculum that is now expected. Teachers should be teaching to the top and then differentiating down. Not teaching to the middle and then teaching upwards and downwards.
4. Encouraging re-reading and highlighting or memorising key ideas.
Another contentious point here because of the 'Talk for Writing' approach that we use in school to help children learn 'patterns of language' and to assist them in developing as writers. We also encourage children to re-read books for understanding and this has had a huge impact on the children's ability to comprehend what they are reading.
5. Addressing low confidence and aspiration before teaching content.
- I didn't make any notes on this! Sorry! - But he basically said that this did not need so much time out of class. Children are inert learners and will learn if the teaching in front of them is stimulating and engaging.
6. Presenting information in preferred learning styles.
The less said about this the better. Every child needs experiences visually, through listening and through action.
7. Being active rather than listening passively (learning pyramid)
Basically - there is not a preferred method for teaching - its what works for that class for that lesson that matters.
I'm a deputy head in Scarborough, England and love using media and tech to develop writing. I'm also a keen advocate of Learning Without Limits and believe in a games based approach to developing mathematicians.