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03 November 2020

Teacher Development: A Guide To Reflection

Teacher Development: A Guide To Reflection

As we move into the second half of term, with the last few months causing challenges in several ways, it is with even more gratification that we look upon our students and see the immense amount of progress that they have all made in the last seven weeks.

But it is not just the students that have been engaging in their learning, as the teachers at Ealing Independent College have also been actively taking part in challenging weekly teacher training sessions focused on all aspects of their pedagogy.

But why do teachers need such regular training - surely they are already experts in their field? And the answer is yes, at Ealing we are indeed fortunate to have an outstanding selection of talented and committed teachers.  Can they still improve as individuals and as a collective?  Yes, of course they can. And as to why we do this, the answer is simple. The best way to improve the progress of students is by investing in the teachers who teach them.

This term, our teacher training sessions have included a blend of practical strategies for improving learning as well as investigations into educational research. 

When teachers are allowed to share good practice and collaborate, a powerful opportunity for professional development is created.  This enables teachers to improve both their subject knowledge and the strategies they use within the classroom, evidenced in The Teaching and Learning International Survey

In the last seven weeks, all full-time staff have been involved in weekly collaborations, with more than half of our staff sharing aspects of outstanding practice with their colleagues. Topics have ranged from ensuring high-quality teacher feedback to extending the ways we can develop critical thinking in our students by using higher-order questioning.

Understanding the impact we have as teachers on students is complex and challenging. Luckily, education is one of the most extensively researched topics throughout the world. In the last seven weeks, the teaching staff at Ealing have looked deeply into numerous aspects of research to ensure their practice is research-led and they have an awareness of their impact.

So far this term, we have investigated Barak Rosenshine’s “Principles of Effective Instruction”, which encouraged us to understand better how students learn through Arthur Shimamura’s brilliant piece of research titled “MARGE” and Graham Nuthall’s illuminating book “The Hidden Lives of Learners”. Through this process, teachers at Ealing have developed a better understanding of long-term and short-term memory, allowing them to create lessons and activities that focus on retrieval practice, with the aim of making this a habit which students naturally incorporate into their learning style.

The second phase of Barak Rosenshine’s research led the staff to investigate questioning. During his widespread research on classroom practice. Barak Rosenshine found that the teachers of pupils who consistently made the most progress spent up to half of their lessons asking questions or creating opportunities for students to question each other. These findings guided us as a collective to define what good questioning is and how we can develop techniques such as inclusive questioning.

After six sessions devoted to teachers sharing good practice and taking the time to better understand educational research, our last session was devoted to reflection and well-being. Reflection always brings me back to Stephen Covey's "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People". The overarching theme is that, if we want to improve any aspect of our lives, we must be proactive in enhancing all elements of our lives, including well-being, health and pedagogy.

In order to guide reflection, teachers have been completing a CPD Journal to record the insights they have gained from the teacher training sessions, strategies for implementing these methods within the classroom and finally to produce a reflection on how these ideas could be improved once used in the classroom. Through reading these entries over the weekend, not only has it been extremely informative in helping me to plan the CPD needs of the staff for next half term, but it has also confirmed to me what I already knew. At Ealing, we have a broad range of incredibly talented staff who are doing wonderful things in their lessons. What stood out was how every staff member was engaging deeply in how to improve their lessons regardless of their experience. This purposeful level of self-reflection is a habit which quickly passes down to students and is one of the things that makes EIC such a special place.

Adrian Winiecki

Head of Teacher Development. 

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